Analysing John Rawls' Theory Of Justice And Its Principles, And The Conflicts Which May Arise From Its Implementation.

1651 words - 7 pages

Justice as FairnessThe late John Rawls, in 'Justice as Fairness', acknowledges that society exists for the "mutual benefit of all its members" (Nuttall 2002:223). They should be better off living in a society than not. However, he also indicates that there is a conflict of interest between members within the society, as each tries to accumulate a larger share of wealth and goods available.Rawls' theory of justice is seen as the solution to the conflict of interests in society, and revolves around the adaptation of two fundamental principles of justice, which would, in turn, guarantee a just and morally acceptable society. The first principle guarantees the right of each person to have the most extensive basic liberty compatible with the liberty of others. The second principle states that social and economic positions are to be (firstly) to everyone's advantage and (secondly) open to all.Rawl believes that the first principle (the liberty principle) should take precedence over his second (the difference principle). The liberty principle entails that each citizen should have the right to political liberty (ie to vote and stand for election), liberty of conscience and freedom of thought, the right to hold personal property, freedom of speech and assembly, and freedom from arbitrary arrest and seizure. Rawl wishes to see all these freedoms distributed equally, as he asserts that this is the basis of a just society.The first part of Rawls' second principle of justice states that social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that they are reasonably expected to be everyone's advantage. Rawls refers to this portion as 'the difference principle'. The difference principle implies two things. First, that those who posses fewer natural assets such as wealth or education, deserve special consideration and compensation. Second, Rawls implies that the rich should willingly give up a portion of their wealth to the poor since they would gain more than they gave up by enjoying the benefits of a mutually co-operative society (Nuttall 2002:226).If Rawls were to consider that perhaps the losses felt by the rich may indeed outweigh the benefits felt in return and also outweigh the gain in happiness of the poor, then I wonder how solid he would feel his argument is. Rawls bases his difference principle on the assumption that wealth is a natural asset, that people gain it by being in the right place at the right time. This becomes believable when examples such as that of David Beckham are cited; while Beckham may work hard for the millions he earns, I have no doubt in my mind that there are others in this country who work several fold harder and longer and receive a tiny percentage of his income. This would give notice to the idea of the natural lottery, which implies that the distribution of such things as wealth and education are arbitrary. If this were the case unconditionally, then Rawls' theory would undoubtedly hold true. The idea that wealth is...

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