Distributive Justice In A Defense Of Pluralism And Equality By Michael Walzer

762 words - 4 pages


Distributive justice requires the philosophical powers of reflection of the greatest theorists. In order to solve certain social issues, the most pragmatic solution must be concocted carefully to solve the biggest loopholes. Michael Walzer is no stranger to the complexity of social inequality. In his book A Defense of Pluralism and Equality, he argues that every society decides on the value of a social good and therefore should distribute those good according to the meanings they have. The social goods (healthcare, office, membership, money, politics, education) are divided into spheres each having their own distributive arguments. Walzer’s acceptance of the pluralistic nature of human group and ideology leads to his argument of a complex equality, one that contrasts the ideas of equality explicit in Rawlsian Liberalism.

In essence, liberalism emphasizes equal opportunity so everyone has equal access to goods. For this to work, political theorist John Rawls proposes a monolithic society, one that creates principles bound by his proposition of an original position (a set of political principles that to which every member of society agrees) behind a veil of ignorance (though experiment which freeing man from current attachments). This form of egalitarianism requires people start at the same realms in life and compensate for what disadvantages may have been made either through socially or naturally. Walzer, however, does not agree with this system. He insists that this system is practically impossible since human cannot detach themselves from their history and membership since the choices have been made. The questions he says is not what rational individuals would choose under universalizing conditions but rather what would individuals choose given a context of having a shared culture and understanding and would common understandings do they really share. It is doubtful that justice can be distributed in only one way. Therefore, Walzers proposes a solution of pluralistic means. Rather than create a new set of rules, Walzer wants society to embrace what they already share and distribute the goods according to how the society values them. Walzer puts these goods into separate “spheres”. While Rawls’ equality proposes everyone being allocated almost the same amount of material and goods, Walzer proposes that a citizen’s standing in one...

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