Social Justice in the Liberal State


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Bruce Ackerman

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An original and compelling vision of a just society

“A ‘new view’ of the theoretical foundations of liberalism that will ‘challenge us to clarify our own implicit notions of liberal democracy.’ ”—The New York Times Book Review

Winner of a Certificate of Merit for the American Bar Association's 1981 Gavel Award for outstanding public service

First published in 1980 and continuously in print ever since, Bruce Ackerman's classic Social Justice in the Liberal State offers a new foundation for liberal political theory— a world in which each of us may live his or her own life in his or her own way, without denying the same right to others. Full of provocative discussions of issues ranging from education to abortion, it makes fascinating reading for anyone concerned with the future of the liberal democratic state.

“Professor Ackerman has tackled age-old problems of social justice with the refreshing technique of a series of dialogues in which the proponent of a position must either confront his opponent with an answer, constrained by the three principles of rationality, consistency, and neutrality, or submit to a checkmate. The author’s ability to combine earthiness with extreme subtlety in framing the dialogues has produced a novel, mind-stretching book.”—Henry J. Friendly, Senior Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

“What limits should we place on genetic manipulation? How many children should we have? How should we regulate abortions and adoptions? What rights does the community have, what rights do parents have in the education of children? What rights do children have? What resources must we leave to future generations? To see all these as questions of distributive justice is to connect them in a new way (and to make) a significant contribution.”—Michael Walzer, The New Republic 

“The breadth of the attack on the fundamental issues of man and society is impressive.”—Foreign Affairs 

Bruce A. Ackerman is professor of law at the Yale Law School.

Winner of a Certificate of Merit for the American Bar Association's 1981 Gavel Award for outstanding public service
ISBN: 9780300027570
Publication Date: September 10, 1981
464 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
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