Rawls Theory of Social Justice: How decisions are made to benefit all. “Until the great mass of the people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each other’s welfare, social justice can never be attained” (Helen Keller). This quote suggests that social justice can be attained with the involvement of the many. Social Justice can be defined as fair and proper administration of laws and natural laws, that all persons irrespective of ethnicity, gender, possessions, race or religion are entitled too, and equally applied.
Social justice, sometimes called civil justice, refers to the concept of a society in which justice is achieved in every aspect of society, and not only in the administration of law. Social justice affords all individuals and groups, fair treatment and an impartial share of the benefits of society. This paper seeks to explain the concept of John Rawls “Theory of Social Justice” and how this theory helps man make decisions that benefit all of society, equitable.
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John Rawls, an American moral and political philosopher, whose major work, A Theory of Justice, had a profound impact on ethics and political theory. Rawls believed there must be an alternative view of justice than the view of the Utilitarianism where the action that benefits the greatest is the best. Rawls believed that this is a treat to individual’s rights and freedoms even if it occurs in the minority. Rawls believed that the principles of justice and fairness among individuals must apply equitable.
John Rawls, social justice theory seeks to create a society where the principles of justice and fairness are provided and to ensure the protection of equal access to liberties, rights, and opportunities, as well as taking care of the least advantaged members of society. The concept is based around a social contract, which is the voluntary agreement among people with each another and the government which results in an organized society. What must be noted is that Rawls theory is intended for the application at the institutional holistic level where it seeks to address social rather than individual ethics.
The agreement entails, where certain rules are agreed upon and followed with the hope or aim or producing a result that is good for society. The decisions that are made are based on a position where selfish motives among the decision makers are removed and no thought of the implication and consequences of the decision to themselves. The two components of Rawls theory are hinged upon; the original position (the veil of ignorance) and two principles which are liberty and equality.
The original position is a hypothetical position or strategy where persons divest themselves of all preconceptions and prejudices and thereby creating a position for the decision makers where they all begin, Behind this veil, you know nothing of yourself ,your natural abilities, or position in society. You know nothing of your sex, race, nationality, or individual tastes. Behind such a veil of ignorance all individuals are simply specified as rational, free, and morally equal beings each being equal with each other.
At this point all persons are without bias and see the world through or behind a veil of ignorance; they become ignorant and are unhindered and free to make a decision that can benefit all equally. At this point the principles of liberty and equity are applied to the decision that is to be made The principle of liberty refers to the basic freedoms such as the freedom or right to political freedom (the right to vote or join any political party), freedom of speech, freedom of conscience freedom of assembly, freedom to own and enjoy your property, and freedom from the arbitrary abuse of the powers of arrest.
These freedoms must be guaranteed and be supreme and must not be violated under any circumstances. What must be noted, while these rights are guaranteed in the constitution, section 4 & 5 called the bill of rights, however, they are not unfettered and they can be taken away from a person through due process. According to Rawls, equity is arranged in two ways.
First, equity refers to the situation where all in society are given or have access to resources and any inequalities that may exist are removed or nullified. This means that the poor or least advantage in society has equal benefit from the machinery of the state (referred to as the difference principle). Rawls’s view implies that no advantage can morally exist if it does not benefit the most highly disadvantaged .
The difference principle according to Rawls suggests that in society certain projects require giving some persons more power, income, status than others, such as upper level management and specialists in relevant fields; however, the following conditions must exist where; first, the project must make the disadvantaged better off than they presently are and empower them to the extent consistence with their well being. Second, access to the privileged positions is not blocked by discrimination according to irrelevant criteria, and positions and offices must be open to everyone at this point .
This means that conditions of equity, fair play and opportunity exists. Rawls suggests in this case, not only merit is used but also a reasonable opportunity to acquire the skills is available. The decision that is made based on these criteria with equity and liberty through a veil of ignorance results in a decision that is just ,right ,fair, free from bias and is good for all in society. In conclusion, social justice can be defined as fair and proper administration of laws and natural laws that all persons and groups receive fair treatment and an impartial share of the benefits of society.
John Rawls believed there must be an alternative view of justice than the view of the Utilitarianism where any action that benefits the greatest is the best . Rawls believed that the principles of justice and fairness among all individuals must apply equitable. John Rawls’s social justice theory involves the principles of justice and fairness and of equal access to liberties, rights, and opportunities, as well as taking care of the least advantaged members of society.
It involves a theoretical strategy where an agreement exists between individuals where certain rules are agreed upon and followed with the hope or aim or producing a result that is good for society. The decisions made are based on a position called the original position (the veil of ignorance) where all prejudices and bias are removed and selfish motives are removed and no thought of the implication and consequences of the decision to themselves with the use of two principles which are liberty and equality.
It has been suggested that a jury doing its duty is the closest example of social justice displayed. The jury members are instructed by the court to view the evidence presented only and make a decision based on this only and not what they know or think they know or on their value system or ethics. “Equality is the public recognition, effectively expressed in institutions and manners, of the principle that an equal degree of attention is due to the needs of all human beings. ” Simone Weil