John Bordley Rawls (February 21, 1921 – November 24, 2002) was an American moral and political philosopher. He held the James Bryant Conant University Professorship at Harvard University and the Fulbright Fellowship at the University of Oxford. Rawls received both the Schock Prize for Logic and Philosophy and the National Humanities Medal in 1999, the latter presented by President Bill Clinton, in recognition of how Rawls's work "helped a whole generation of learned Americans revive their faith in democracy itself."
His magnum opus, A Theory of Justice (1971), was said at the time of its publication to be "the most important work in moral philosophy since the end of World War II", and is now regarded as "one of the primary texts in political philosophy". His work in political philosophy, dubbed Rawlsianism, takes as its starting point the argument that "the most reasonable principles of justice are those everyone would accept and agree to from a fair position". Rawls attempts to determine the principles of social justice by employing a number of thought experiments such as the famous original position in which everyone is impartially situated as equals behind a veil of ignorance. He is one of the major thinkers in the tradition of liberal political philosophy. According to English philosopher Jonathan Wolff, John Rawls was the most important political philosopher of the 20th century.