In Paul Anand, Prastanta Pattanaik & Clemens Puppe (eds.), Handbook of Rational and Social Choice. Oxford University Press. pp. 433--456 (2009)

Authors
Fabienne Peter
University of Warwick
Abstract
Rawls’ 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’ theory of justice for economics. Early contributions in welfare economics and social choice theory typically attempted to incorporate Rawls’ ideas into a welfarist framework. Current research in normative economics comes closer to Rawls’ original proposal of a non-consequentialist theory of justice. In my article, I shall first introduce Rawls’ theory of justice and then address some of the debates his theory has triggered in normative economics.
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