Discuss John Rawls’ theory of justice

Discuss John Rawls’ theory of justice.

Justice is of central importance in political practice and theory. discuss John Rawls’ theory of justice In defending or opposing laws, public policies and administrative decisions of governments, appeals are made to notions of justice. Justice is also invoked in social and political movements, civil disobedience and satyagraha campaigns. Thus, the civil rights or civil liberties movements are essentially movements for justice. So are the dalit, feminist and environmental movements. Discuss John Rawls’ theory of justice While a decent or good society or polity must have several virtues, justice is, according to a widespread view, the first of them.

Rawl’s Theory of Justice

Critique of Utilitarianism

Rawls’s principles of social justice are a corrective to the liberal-utilitarian principle of the greatest happiness of the greatest number. Discuss John Rawls’ theory of justice What then are his objections to utilitarianism? Rawls recognises that liberal utilitarianism marked a progressive, welfare-oriented departure from classical liberalism’s preoccupation with individualistic rights. Discuss John Rawls’ theory of justice Yet, utilitarianism is, in Rawls’s view, a morally flawed theory of justice. Its moral flaw is that it justifies or condones the sacrificing of the good of some individuals for the sake of the happiness of the greatest number. For the utilitarians, the criterion of justice in a society is the aggregate sum of utility or happiness or welfare it produces, and not the well-being or welfare of each member of the society.

Rawls’s Liberal-Egalitarian Principles of Justice

According to Rawls, a stable, reasonably well-off society is “a cooperative venture for mutual advantage.” Discuss John Rawls’ theory of justice Along with cooperation, there is also conflict among its members regarding their share of the burdens and benefits of social living. The purpose of principles of social justice is to ensure that the distribution of the benefits and burdens of society is just or fair to all its members. Discuss John Rawls’ theory of justice The basic institutions of society should, according to Rawls, be so constructed as to ensure the continuous distribution of “social primary goods” to all the members of society in a fair or just manner. “Social primary goods” are goods, which are distributed by the basic structure of a society. They include rights and liberties, powers and opportunities, and income and wealth.

The Social Contract Procedure

So far, our focus has been on the content or substance of Rawls’s principles of social/distributive justice. Discuss John Rawls’ theory of justice Let us now turn briefly to his method or procedure of argumentation in defense of those principles. Why, according to Rawls, should we accept his principles, rather than some other principles (say, the utilitarian or libertarian principles), as principles of just or fair distribution? Briefly stated, Rawls’s response is that a social contract method or procedure of political deliberation respects the Kantian liberal-egalitarian moral idea of the freedom and equality of all persons and that an agreement or contract arrived at through such a method or procedure is just or fair to all the parties to that contract.

The Basic Structure of Society

Rawls has persuasively shown that social justice is of crucial importance to social life and that it should inform constitutions, laws, policies, legal processes, etc. Discuss John Rawls’ theory of justice In fact, according to him, the primary subject of justice is the basic structure of society. Discuss John Rawls’ theory of justice His principles of social justice justifies, and is justified by, liberal democracy, a regulated market economy and the liberal-egalitarian welfare state. He states that for translating his Difference Principle into practice, the government should have four branches, viz.

i) an allocation branch “to keep the price system workably competitive and to prevent the formation of unreasonable market power”

ii) a stabilisation branch to bring about “reasonably full employment” and, jointly with the allocation branch, to maintain the efficiency of the market economy

iii) a transfer branch to attend to “the claims of need and an appropriate standard of life” and

iv) a distribution branch “to preserve an appropriate justice in distributive shares” by taxation meas ures and adjustments in propertyrights.

A Theory of Justice was published in 1971 by American moral and political philosopher John Rawls. It attempted to resolve the problem of distributive justice in society. Rawls was opposed to the traditional philosophical arguments on what constitutes a just institution, and the justification for social actions and policies. Discuss John Rawls’ theory of justice The utilitarian argument holds that society should pursue the greatest good for the greatest number, an argument that is consistent with the idea of the tyranny of majorities over minorities.

In opposing the utilitarian arguments, Rawls attempted to establish an unbiased version of social justice based on the social contract approach. Discuss John Rawls’ theory of justice The social contract approach holds that society is in a form of agreement with all those within the society. The approach originated from an 18th-century philosophical and intellectual movement called the Age of Enlightenment.

The movement assumes that members of a society have consented to surrender some of their freedoms and submit to the authority of the ruler in exchange for the maintenance of social rights and the protection of their remaining rights. Rawls opines the idea of justice as fairness, and he identifies social justice as the first characteristic of social institutions.

Born on February 21, 1921, in Maryland, John Rawls attended school in Baltimore. Rawls pursued a Bachelor of Arts degree at Princeton University, where he graduated summa cum laude in 1943. Immediately after graduating from Princeton University, he served in the military between 1943 and 1946. Discuss John Rawls’ theory of justice After his military service, Rawls returned to Princeton in 1946 for his doctorate in Moral Philosophy.

Rawls is recognized as an American moral and political philosopher, and he authored “A Theory of Justice” in 1971, “Political Liberalism” in 1993, “Justice as Fairness: A Restatement” in 2002, among other books. Discuss John Rawls’ theory of justice He’s been referred to as the most important ethics and political philosopher of the 20th century. In 1999, then US President Bill Clinton awarded Rawls the National Humanities Medal for the philosopher’s contributions to the academic and political space.

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