Free and Equal: Rawls' Theory of Justice and Political Reform

By Joseph Grcic | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION

“If you prick us do we not bleed?
If you tickle us do we not laugh?
If you poison us do we not die?
And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?”

—Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

For many Americans, the American Dream seems more like a vague hope than a real possibility. It is becoming increasingly clear that our society is faced with profound social and political problems. To solve these problems, we must first become aware that they exist and then look for solutions. Some of the problems are described below, and the solutions which will be defended here are based on a deeper understanding of the underlying principles of the Constitution informed by the ideas of the philosopher John Rawls.

We often hear that “America is Number One,” but America is also first in some things that are not consistent with the ideals and values which define the American Dream. For example: the United States is number one in the number of people in prison (2.3 million). China, with more than five times the population, is second with 1.5 million.1

1. US Department of Justice: www.ojp.usdoj.gov; 2007; Loury, Glenn C., Race, Incarceration and American Values, Cambridge: MIT Press, 2008, pp. 5-6; The New York Times, 2/19/09, “Hispanics are Largest Ethnic Group in Federal Prisons, Study Shows,” by Solomon Moore, p. A16; www.internationalheraldtribune. com 4/23/08. These numbers include those in prisons and in jails (awaiting trial or sentencing).

-1-

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