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Philosophy 2801F/G Chapter Notes -Justice As Fairness, Intuitionism, Social Contract

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PHIL 2801F/G

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There are limits to the way individuals can be legitimately sacrificed for the benefit of others
To treat people as equals we must protect them in their possession of certain rights and liberties
Political theory was caught between two extremes: utilitarianism on the one side, and an
incoherent jumble of ideas and principles on the other
Second option intuitionism which is a little more than a series of anecdotes based on particular
intuitions about particular issues
Intuitionism is an unsatisfying alternative to utilitarianism
Having two features they consist of a plurality of first principles which may conflict to give
contrary directives in particular types of cases and second they include no explicit method, not
priority rules for weighing these principles against one another
Rawls sets himself to develop a systematic political theory that structures our different
We cannot take for granted that there must be a complete derivation of our judgements of
social justice from recognizable ethical principles
The only way therefore to dispute intuitionism is to set forth the recognisably ethical criteria
that account for the weights which, in our considered judgments we think appropriate to give to
the plurality of principles
General conception of justice consists of one central idea, all social primary goods liberty and
opportunity, income and wealth and the bases of self respect are to be distributed equally
unless and uneqla distribution of any or all of these goods is to the advantage of the least
We treat people as equals not by removing all inequalities but only those which disadvantage
Inequalities are allowed if they improve my initially equal share but are not allowed if as in
utilitarianism they invade my fair share
Giving the less well off a kind of veto over inequalities
This general conception is not yet a full theory of justice for the various goods being distributed
according to that principle may conflict
We need a system of priority amongst the different elements
First Principle each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive total system of equal
basic liberties compatible with a similar system of liberty for all
Second principle social and economic inequalities are to barranged so that they are both to
the greatest benefit of the least advantage and attached to offices and positions open ot all
under conditions of fair equality of opportunity
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First priority rules (liberty) the principles of justice are to be ranked in lexical order and
therefore liberty can be restricted only for the sake of liberty
Second priority rule (efficiency and welfare) the second principle of justice is lexically prior to
the principle of efficiency and to that of maximizing the sum of advantages and fair opportunity
is prior to the difference principle
These principles form the special conception of justice equal liberties take precedence over
equal opportunity which takes precedence over equal resources
An inequality is only allowed if it benefits the least well off
Difference principles governing the distribution of economic resources
The assumption that civil and political rights should have priority is widely shared in our society
He argues that his theory better fits our considered intuitions concerning justice and that it gives
a better spelling out of the very ideals of fairness that the prevailing ideology appeals to
Outcome of a hypothetical social contract
Original position has a rational interest in adopting Rawlsian principles for the governing of
social cooperation
While Rawls also requires equality of opportunity in allotting positions he denies that the people
who fill the positions are thereby entitled to a greater share of societies resources
The ideology of equal opportunity seems fair to many people it ensures that peoples fate is
determined by their choices rather than their circumstances
Our fate should not be privileged or disadvantage by such morally arbitrary factors as the racial
or ethnic group we were born into
Success or failure will be the result of our own choices and efforts
It is fair for individuals to have unequal shares of social goods if those inequalities are earned
and deserved by the individual
The base of the prevailing view is that peoples fate should be determined by their choices by the
decisions they make about how to lead their lives not by the circumstances which they happen
to find themselves in
Only recognizes differences in social circumstances while ignoring differences in natural talents
this is an arbitrary limit on the application of its own central intuition
No one deserves to benefit from their natural talents but it is not unfair to allow such benefits
when they work to the advantage of those who were less fortunate in the natural lottery and
this is precisely what the difference principle says
The prevailing view of equality of opportunity is unstable and we should recognize that our
place in the distribution of natural talents is morally arbitrary
The difference principle says that all inequalities must work to the benefit of the least well off
This argument explain why the difference principle applies to all inequalities rather than just to
those inequalities which stem from morally arbitrary factors
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