Vanderbilt Law Review


Gilbert Merritt

First Page



A Theory of Justice,' John Rawls's new book on social and legal philosophy, appears likely to become a monument of systematic thought comparable to Locke's Second Treatise of Government and Mill's Utilitarianism. It provides answers systematically to the most difficult questions of our time and promises to shape the thought and action of men for many years. Daniel Bell, a noted social scientist, has said that in Rawls "we can observe the development of a political philosophy which will go far to shape the last part of the 20th Century, as the doctrines of Locke and Smith molded the 19th."'


This Review, intended to introduce Rawls's thought to the broad legal community, will describe the structure of A Theory of Justice,emphasize its fundamental concepts, and indicate the impact that its application to our legal system may have.