John Rawls

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John Rawls

  1. 1. John Rawls Neo-Kantian Social Justice
  2. 2. John Rawls Justice
  3. 3. Rawls’s Social Justice <ul><li>Rawls’s theory is Neo-Kantian because it begins with a rational estimate of what everyone would think, believing that what everyone would think behind the veil of ignorance is the fair and just thing to do. </li></ul><ul><li>The guiding principle for determining social justice is “Justice as Fairness.” </li></ul>
  4. 4. Rawls’s “Original Position” <ul><li>The “original position” is a “hypothetical device” for developing and examining the justice of societal principles and laws. </li></ul><ul><li>A law, a political structure, a society, a government and people. </li></ul>The Veil of Ignorance
  5. 5. The Original Position <ul><li>Behind the veil of ignorance, we assume hypothetically that we do not know anything about our possible position within the society for which we are developing laws. </li></ul>
  6. 6. The Original Position <ul><li>Behind the veil of ignorance, we must assume we do not know whether we will be rich or poor, male or female, young or old, felon or victim, black or white within the state we are organizing or under the law we are proposing. </li></ul><ul><li>Our guiding principle is “Justice as Fairness.” </li></ul>
  7. 7. Two Guiding Principles <ul><li>First, the Principle of Equal Liberty--”each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive basic liberty compatible with similar liberty for others.” </li></ul><ul><li>Second, the Difference Principle--”Social and economic inequalities are just only if they result in compensating benefits, particularly for the least advantaged in society .” </li></ul>
  8. 8. Principle of Equal Liberty <ul><li>This principle guarantees as much liberty as possible to individuals. As long as my freedoms do not hinder the fundamental liberty of others, I should be free to act as I choose. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Difference Principle <ul><li>We can have economic and class differences if even the worst off in society are benefited in some way. </li></ul><ul><li>Social and economic inequalities must be such that everyone has a fair and equal opportunity of obtaining them. </li></ul>
  10. 10. “The Maximin Solution” <ul><li>By combining the principle of equal liberty and the difference principle, we can obtain the “ maximin solution ,” which means we will benefit the least advantaged in society. </li></ul><ul><li>The worst outcome of a decision must be better than the worst outcome of alternative solutions. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Neo-Kantian Position on Human Worth <ul><li>“[E]ach person possesses an inviolability founded on justice that even the welfare of society as a whole cannot override. . . . Therefore . . . The rights secured by justice are not subject to political bargaining or to the calculus of social interests.” ( i.e., utilitarianism is wrong ) (Rawls) </li></ul>
  12. 12. Rawlsian Justice at Work: Nationalize Health Care? Thoughts Behind the Veil. <ul><li>Pro: Everyone would have equal access to doctors and specialists. No one would be turned away from a kidney transplant because they lacked funds. </li></ul><ul><li>Con: Those with the wealth to pay for costly treatment would lose that ability. Perhaps fewer and lesser qualified people might become doctors. </li></ul>If a private health care system mandated that no one would be turned away and if the care were better, we could accept the inequality of private care.
  13. 13. Rawlsian Justice: Affirmative Action—Good or Bad: Reasoning Behind the Veil <ul><li>Pro: Will it help those least well off in society even if it means some injustice for otherwise qualified candidates for education or jobs? Am I more likely to be a minority that will be benefited or someone who might be hurt? </li></ul><ul><li>Does this violate the Rawlsian view that the goods of society must be open to all? Will it simply create a new class of “least-well-off” people? </li></ul>
  14. 14. Other Applications <ul><li>Should we increase the minimum wage? </li></ul><ul><li>Should we pass a law requiring all motorcycle riders to wear helmets? </li></ul><ul><li>Should we legalize homosexual marriages? </li></ul><ul><li>Should we increase taxes on the wealthiest Americans—those making over $150,00 per year and reduce the tax burden on those earning under $40,000 per year. </li></ul>

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