Primary goods

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Primary goods are presented in the important book A Theory of Justice (1971) written by the American philosopher John Rawls. Rawls identifies primary goods as the “things that every rational man is presumed to want”. Thus primary goods are the common base for the unanimous selection of the justice principle in the original position.

Primary goods are subdivided in two categories:

  • Natural primary goods: this category includes intelligence, imagination, health, etc.
  • Social primary goods: this category includes rights (civil rights and political rights), liberties, income and wealth, the social bases of self-respect, etc.

See also[edit]


  • Rawls J., A Theory of Justice, Belknap, United States, 1971.
  • Sen A., Equality of What?, The Tanner Lecture on Human Values, Stanford University, May 1979.