POLI 100 Lecture – 24 January th 01/24/2014
Basic formulation: giving others what they are entitled to
How should resources be distributed?
Wealth, income, education opportunities be distributed?
Presupposed scarcity – someone has to fall short somewhere.
Types of Justice
fairness of the process through which an outcome is reached
Social or distributive justice
fairness of the outcome itself.
Both of these are just but in conflict with one another.
All theories of justice involve a presumption of equality if not in terms of outcomes, at least in the sense
of consistency of treatment.
Need based Justice
Closely associated with socialism.
“From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs
Also evident in the welfare systems of liberal democratic states
Basic levels of needs that have to be met
Merit based Justice In this case, the social goods of the society are distributed according to merit or desert, for the ideal
benefit of the society.
So, it is best to distribute wealth to those who know what to do with that wealth for the betterment of the
Rewards can be distributed differently so as to encourage development and use of talent.
Calls for an equality of opportunity, so everyone has the chance to succeed even if not all of them
succeed. But is there really an equal opportunity? For instance, rich ids succeed more since they have
Calls for elimination of structural disadvantages > for example, lighter skin colour preferred over darker
one so people’s opportuites can be limited in this way.
Rawl’s Theory of Justice
A Theory of Justice (1971)
Based on a hypothetical “original position” where individuals choose what their future society will look
Decision are made from behind a “veil of ignorance” so that the individuals will have no idea where they
fit into a society
Rawls assumes selfinterested individuals who also desire “primary goods” such as wealth, good
health, education etc.
Rawl’s Two Principles of Justice
1. Each person is to have an equal right to … take from book
You are free as long as you freedom doesn’t come in the line of someone else’s freedom.
Often referred to the “liberty principle
2. Take from book.
Some people can be more educated than other but those differences should work to the benefit of
the whole society and those differences should be attached to officies that everyone can run for.
Often called the “difference principle”
Critiques of Rawls
Rawls assumes a “minimax” strategy,