Samuel Freeman is the Avalon Professor in the Humanities and Professor of Philosophy and of Law at the University of Pennsylvania. Among his books are Justice and the Social Contract and Rawls. (July 2014)

The Case Against Moralism

Bernard Williams
Since Plato, philosophers have offered accounts of the ethical values and moral principles we should pursue individually and as a society. Although nearly moribund for most of the last century, ethical theory was revived in the 1970s, because of the influence of John Rawls’s A Theory of Justice (1971), a …

It’s in Your Own Best Interest

Children buying toy cars, Paris, 1967; photograph by Henri Cartier-Bresson
Public, political, and academic opinion about the role of government has changed considerably since the early 1980s. There is now a widespread presumption that private, free-market solutions are the appropriate way to address not just economic but also social and political issues. In the spirit of our free-market era, Simpler: …

Why Be Good?

Derek Parfit, 1991
Philosophers have long sought to formulate a theory that explains the purposes of commonsense moral rules and provides principles enabling us to resolve the frequent moral dilemmas we encounter. Thomas Hobbes wrote that familiar moral rules are not relative to one culture or another but are “articles of peace,” necessary …

A New Theory of Justice

Amartya Sen giving the keynote address at the fifth annual Global Development Network conference, New Delhi, India, January 2004
Since the publication of John Rawls’s A Theory of Justice in 1971 there has been an outpouring of philosophical literature on social, political, and economic justice unmatched in the history of thought. During the previous two hundred years, utilitarianism had been the predominant view in Anglo-American political philosophy. Utilitarianism argues …