Justice as Fairness

Justice as fairness is Rawls's theory of justice for a liberal society. As a member of the family of liberal political conceptions of justice it provides a framework for the legitimate use of political power. Yet legitimacy is only the minimal standard of political acceptability; a political order can be legitimate without being just. Justice is the maximal moral standard: the full description of how a society's main institutions should be ordered.
Rawls constructs justice as fairness around specific interpretations of the defining liberal ideas that citizens are free and equal and that society should be fair. He holds that justice as fairness is the most egalitarian, and also the most plausible, interpretation of liberalism's fundamental concepts.

John Rawls
Published in: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
2008