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The Handbook of Rational and Social Choice$
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Paul Anand, Prasanta Pattanaik, and Clemens Puppe

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199290420

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199290420.001.0001

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Rawlsian Justice *

Rawlsian Justice *

The Handbook of Rational and Social Choice

Fabienne Peter

Oxford University Press

Rawls's theory of justice builds on the social contract tradition to offer an alternative to utilitarianism. Rawls singles out justice‐not maximum welfare or efficiency‐as “the first virtue of social institutions”. Economists were quick to realize the relevance of Rawls's theory of justice for economics. Early contributions in welfare economics and social choice theory typically attempted to incorporate Rawls's ideas into a welfarist framework. Current research in normative economics comes closer to Rawls's original proposal of a non‐consequentialist theory of justice. This chapter first introduces Rawls's theory of justice and then addresses some of the debates his theory has triggered in normative economics.

Keywords:   Rawls, justice, utilitarianism, welfarism, efficiency, maximin, primary goods

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