Katrina Forrester


In the Shadow of Justice:
Postwar Liberalism and the Remaking of Political Philosophy

in conversation with ADOM GETACHEW

This event includes a book signing


September 27, 2019
3:00 PM ET


Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138


This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store and the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics welcome KATRINA FORRESTER—Assistant Professor of Government and Social Studies at Harvard University—for a discussion of her new book, In the Shadow of Justice: Postwar Liberalism and the Remaking of Political Philosophy. This event is also sponsored in part by Mass Humanities.


BRANDON M. TERRY, originally scheduled to join this event in conversation, is no longer able to attend. We're pleased to announce that author and professor ADOM GETACHEW will be joining Katrina for this discussion.

About In the Shadow of Justice

In the Shadow of Justice tells the story of how liberal political philosophy was transformed in the second half of the twentieth century under the influence of John Rawls. In this first-ever history of contemporary liberal theory, Katrina Forrester shows how liberal egalitarianism―a set of ideas about justice, equality, obligation, and the state―became dominant, and traces its emergence from the political and ideological context of the postwar United States and Britain.

In the aftermath of the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War, Rawls’s A Theory of Justice made a particular kind of liberalism essential to political philosophy. Using archival sources, Forrester explores the ascent and legacy of this form of liberalism by examining its origins in midcentury debates among American antistatists and British egalitarians. She traces the roots of contemporary theories of justice and inequality, civil disobedience, just war, global and intergenerational justice, and population ethics in the 1960s and ’70s and beyond. In these years, political philosophers extended, developed, and reshaped this liberalism as they responded to challenges and alternatives on the left and right―from the New International Economic Order to the rise of the New Right. These thinkers remade political philosophy in ways that influenced not only their own trajectory but also that of their critics.

Recasting the history of late twentieth-century political thought and providing novel interpretations and fresh perspectives on major political philosophers, In the Shadow of Justice offers a rigorous look at liberalism’s ambitions and limits.

Praise for In the Shadow of Justice

"With exquisite documentation and extraordinary power, In the Shadow of Justice reconstructs a set of contingent developments in Anglo-American philosophy that acquired the force of apparent necessity and defined the philosophical agenda for two generations. This is one of the most effective and unsettling works of genealogical intellectual history that I have ever read and it is destined to be an instant classic." ―Samuel Moyn, author of Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World

"In the Shadow of Justice is a splendid reconstruction of the intellectual roots of liberal egalitarianism. But it is also so much more. Forrester tells a subtle story of how liberal politics and ideology both enabled and constrained the quest for justice in postwar thought. She has given us one of the very best books on Rawls, and an exquisite model of how to engage with normative political theory to understand the times in which we live." ―Lea Ypi, author of Global Justice and Avant-Garde Political Agency

"This important book is the first to put liberalism in postwar Anglo-American political thought in proper historical perspective. It deepens our understanding of the tradition of liberal egalitarianism, the origins of John Rawls’s theory in particular. Forrester is critical of that tradition’s blind spots, but also rightly emphasizes what unsuspected resources egalitarianism might still provide for thinking through our present political challenges." ―Jan-Werner Muller, author of Contesting Democracy: Political Ideas in Twentieth-Century Europe and What Is Populism?

Adom Getachew
Adom Getachew

Adom Getachew

Adom Getachew is the Neubauer Family Assistant Professor of Political Science and the College at the University of Chicago. She holds a joint PhD in Political Science and African-American Studies from Yale University. She is the author of Worldmaking after Empire: The Rise and Fall of Self-Determination.

Katrina Forrester
Katrina Forrester

Katrina Forrester

Katrina Forrester is Assistant Professor of Government and Social Studies at Harvard University. Her first book In the Shadow of Justice is out now in paperback. She is co-editor of Nature, Action and the Future and her writing—on pornography, sex work, policing, surveillance, technology, climate change, the gig economy, and other topics—has appeared in the New Yorker, London Review of Books, Harper's, the Guardian, the Nation, Dissent, n+1, Jacobin, and elsewhere.

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

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Event Series: Ethics in Your World

The “Ethics in Your World” series, presented with Harvard University’s Edmond & Lily Safra Center for Ethics, features leading thinkers taking on tough problems that matter to us all. Learn more about the Edmond & Lily Safra Center for Ethics at ethics.harvard.edu.

Co-Sponsored by Mass Humanities

Mass Humanities

Mass Humanities conducts and supports programs that use history, literature, philosophy, and the other humanities disciplines to enhance and improve civic life in Massachusetts. Learn more at masshumanities.org.

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