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MGMT 1040 (37)


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York University
MGMT 1040
William(bill) Woof

Chapter 3: Justice and Economic Distribution • Education is a crucial determinant of future income • How much inequality and what sort of socioeconomic disparities a society is willing to accept reflect both its moral values and the relative strength of its contending social and political forces • This chapter focuses on the subject of economic justice, which concerns the constellation of moral issues raised by society’s distribution of wealth, income, status and power. 4 topics will be examined in this chapter: 1. The concept of justice, its relation to fairness, equality, rights, and what people deserve, and some rival principles of economic distribution 2. The utilitarian approach to justice in general and economic justice in particular 3. The libertarian theory, which places a moral priority on liberty and free exchange 4. The contractarian and egalitarian theory of John Rawls The Nature of Justice • Talk of justics or injustice typically focuses on atleast one of several related ideas— fairness, equality, desert, or rights • First, justice is often used to mean fairness. Justice frequently concerns the fair treatment of members of groups of people or else looks backward to the fair compensation of prior injuries • Justice is frequently held to require that our treatment of people reflect their fundamental moral equality • We all believe that some differences in the treatment of persons are consistent with equality (ex: punishment), and neither respect for equality nor a commitment to equal treatment necessarily implies an equal distribution of economic goods • Justice also requires that people get what they deserve or, as a number of ancient moralists put it, that each receive his or her due • This is in relation to the fourth and final idea, that one is treated unjustly when one’s moral rights are violated. John Stuart Mill describes in his view what distinguishes injustice from other types of wrongful behaviour is that it involves a violation of the rights of some person • “Justice implies something which it is not only right to do, and wrong not to do, but which some individual person can claim from us as a moral right.” Rival Principles of Distribution • Distributive justice—that is, to the proper distribution of social benefits and burdens has various principles proposed to it • Among these most frequently recommended as a basis of distribution are: to each an equal share, to each according to individual need, to each according to personal effort, to each according to social contribution and to each according to merit • No single principle seems to work in enough circumstances to be defended successfully as the sole principle of justice in distribution • Michael Walzer pursues a more sophisticated version in his book Spheres of Justice • Different norms and principles govern different distributive spheres, and these are shaped by the implicit social meanings of the goods in question • His view implies that when it comes to issues of distributive justice, the best philosophers can do is try to unravel the implicit, socially specific norms that govern the distribution of different goods in a particular society • He seeks some general theory of justice in economic distribution, on the basis of which we can assess current social practices The Utilitarian View • What it identifies as rights are most certain moral rules, the observance of which is of the utmost importance for the long run, overall maximization of happiness • People are bound to estimate consequences differently, thus making the standard of utility an inexact and unreliable principle for determining what is just • Justice has in this case two sides to it, which it is impossible to bring into harmony, and the two disputants have chosen opposite sides; the one looks to what it is just that the individual should receive, the other to what is just that the community should give Utilitarianism and Economic Distribution • Utilitarian theory of justice ties the question of economic distribution to the promotion of social well-being or happiness • Deciding what sort of economic arrangements would best promote human happiness requires the utilitarian to consider many things, including 1. The type of economic ownership (private, public, mixed) 2. The way of organizing production and distribution in general (pure laissez faire, markets with government planning and regulation, fully centralized planning) 3. The type of authority arrangements within the units of production (worker control versus managerial prerogative) 4. The range and character of material incentives 5. The nature and extent of social security and welfare provisions Worker Participation • The relation of masters and workpeople will be gradually superseded by partnership, in one or two forms; in some cases, association of the labourers with the capitalist; in others, and perhaps finally in all, association of labourers among themselves. • These developments promote the fuller development and well-being of the people involved • The form of association, however, which if mankind continue to improve, must be expected in the end to predominate, is not that which can exist between a capitalist as chief, and workpeople without a voice in the management, but the association of the labourers themselves on terms of equality, collectively owning the capital with which they carry on their operations, and working under managers elected and removable by themselves • Transformation implied for Mill was nothing less than “the nearest approach to social justice, and the most beneficial ordering of industrial affairs for the universal good, which it is possible at present to foresee Greater Equality of Income • they are likely to believe that making the distribution of income more equal is a good strategy for maximizing happiness • “the declining marginal utility of money” • Simply means that successive additions to one’s income produce, on average, less happiness or welfare than did earlier additions • Obvious implication is that a more egalitarian allocation of income—that is, an allocation that increases the income of those who now earn less—would boost total happiness • Brandt defends equality of after-tax income on utilitarian grounds, subject to the following exceptions: supplements to meet special needs, supplements necessary for incentives or to allocate resources efficiently, and variations to achieve other socially desirable ends, such as population control. The Libertarian Approach • Libertarianism identify justice with an ideal of liberty • Justice consists in permitting each person to live as he or she pleases, free from the interference of others • Libertarians firmly reject utilitarianism’s concern for total social well-being • As long as you are not doing something that interferes with anyone else’s liberty, then no person, group, or government should disturb you in living the life you choose—not even if its doing so would maximize social happiness • Liberty allows only a minimal or “night watchman” state. Such a state is limited to the narrow functions of protecting its citizens against force, theft, and fraud; enforcing contracts; and performing other such basic maintenance functions Nozick’s Theory of Justice • Begins from the premise that people have certain basic moral rights, which he calls “Lockean rights”. • These rights are negative because they require only that people forbear from acting in certain ways—in particular, that we refrain from interfering with others • These negative rights are natural in the sense that we possess them independently of any social or political institutions • Each individual is autonomous and responsible, and should be left to fashion his or her own life free from the interference of others—as long as doing so is compatible with the rights of others to do the same • A belief in these rights shapes Nozick’s theory of economic justice, which he calls the “entitlement theory” • Maintains that people are entitled to their holdings (goods, money and property) as long as they have acquired them fairly • First principle of theory concerns the original acquisition of holdings—that is, the appropriation of unheld goods or the creation of new goods • Second principle concerns the transfers of already owned goods from one
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