Cambridge (Massachusetts), Nov. 26 (Reuters): John Rawls, a towering figure of 20th century political philosophy who embraced the rights of the individual over the greater good of society, has died at the age of 81, Harvard University said yesterday.
The reclusive Harvard professor died yesterday of heart failure at his home in Lexington, Massachusetts.
Rawls revived liberal political philosophy in with his 1971 book A Theory of Justice, in which he argued for a political philosophy based on equality and individual rights.
“Justice denies that the loss of freedom for some can ever be made right by a greater good shared by others,” Rawls wrote. “Therefore, in a just society the rights secured by justice are not subject to political bargaining or to the calculus of social interests.”
Though his writing was described by one critic as “slow-moving and graceless,” his theories travelled widely — reportedly influencing the Chinese dissidents who demonstrated in Tiananmen Square in 1989.