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The Law of Peoples: With

The Law of Peoples: With "The Idea of Public Reason Revisited" / Edition 1

by John Rawls John Rawls
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This book consists of two parts: “The Law of Peoples,” a major reworking of a much shorter article by the same name published in 1993, and the essay “The Idea of Public Reason Revisited,” first published in 1997. Taken together, they are the culmination of more than fifty years of reflection on liberalism and on some of the most pressing problems of our times by John Rawls.

“The Law of Peoples” extends the idea of a social contract to the Society of Peoples and lays out the general principles that can and should be accepted by both liberal and non-liberal societies as the standard for regulating their behavior toward one another. In particular, it draws a crucial distinction between basic human rights and the rights of each citizen of a liberal constitutional democracy. It explores the terms under which such a society may appropriately wage war against an “outlaw society” and discusses the moral grounds for rendering assistance to non-liberal societies burdened by unfavorable political and economic conditions.

“The Idea of Public Reason Revisited” explains why the constraints of public reason, a concept first discussed in Political Liberalism (1993), are ones that holders of both religious and non-religious comprehensive views can reasonably endorse. It is Rawls’s most detailed account of how a modern constitutional democracy, based on a liberal political conception, could and would be viewed as legitimate by reasonable citizens who on religious, philosophical, or moral grounds do not themselves accept a liberal comprehensive doctrine—such as that of Kant, or Mill, or Rawls’s own “Justice as Fairness,” presented in A Theory of Justice (1971).

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674005426
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 03/02/2001
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 208
Product dimensions: 5.38(w) x 8.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

John Rawls was James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University. He was recipient of the 1999 National Humanities Medal.

Table of Contents


The First Part of Ideal Theory

The Law of Peoples as Realistic Utopia

Why Peoples and Not States?

Two Original Positions

The Principles of the Law of Peoples

Democratic Peace and Its Stability

Society of Liberal Peoples: Its Public Reason

The Second Part of Ideal Theory

Toleration of Nonliberal Peoples

Extension to Decent Hierarchical Peoples

Decent Consultation Hierarchy

Human Rights

Comments on Procedure of the Law of Peoples

Concluding Observations

Nonideal Theory

Just War Doctrine: The Right to War

Just War Doctrine: Conduct of War

Burdened Societies

On Distributive Justice among Peoples


Public Reason and the Law of Peoples

Reconcilation to Our Social World


The Idea of Public Reason

The Content of Public Reason

Religion and Public Reason in Democracy

The Wide View of Public Political Culture

On the Family as Part of the Basic Structure

Questions about Public Reason



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