2 Distributive Justice – essential questions Is it fair that some people work hard but make little money while others are born rich?Is it fair when people who make important contributions to society gain the same or fewer rewards in life as those who make no contributions at all?If some people have disabilities, through no fault of their own, is it fair that they must bear this burden without help from the rest of society?
3 Key Question: What is the basis for a just distribution of benefits and burdens in a society? In society, everyone experiences some benefits and some burdensBenefits: consumer goods, access to education, health care, enjoyable work and leisureBurdens: unpleasant work, doing without benefits, taking care of dependentsDistributive Justice
4 How Should Things be Divided? Three main ways to divide (based on distributive justice)1) Simple Equality (Egalitarianism): Dividing benefits and burdens equally amongst everyone2) Equity: this takes account of special needs. For example, using tax payers money to build wheel chair ramps3) Merit (Meritorians): some people deserve more benefits and less burdens.
5 Egalitarianism This encompasses both simple equality and equity Its argument: people are born into a world not of their own makingIt is a matter of blind luck that some people have more of the riches or suffer more of the painsCanada vs. KenyaTherefore, distributive justice recommends that we should take active measures to ensure that distributive justice is achieved
6 Meritorians Meritorians argue against the Egalitarians The argument: some people are born with certain advantages or disadvantages; however, it is the person’s abilities and work that determine whether he or she earns the right to retain the advantages or to overcome the disadvantagesEgalitarians agree but argue that whether they are prepared to work hard are also a matter of luck
7 Equality treating people exactly the same Some philosophers argue that there is a difference between treating people justly and treating them equally.Sometimes it is just to treat people unequallyFor example, it is just to provide people who are differently-abled with wheel chairs and guide dogs and not to provide others, who do not require these services, with the same assistance.
8 Plato’s Theory on Distributive Justice Plato designed an ideal society around a theory of justice based on people’s special talentsTalents are different from person to person and are natural to themA just society is one in which each office or job is performed by a person who is especially qualified for itPeople’s positions in society are determined in accord with their special abilities, the rewards of the position are also determined by what is needed to perform that job wellFor example, if Len (from the cake example) was best suited for manual labour, than he should get the biggest piece of cake as he needs the energy to do his physical workPlato was also anti-democratic. He believed that there were people who should govern countries (based on their special talents) and make decisions for an entire society. This person would be entitled to decide whether the cake should be offered to the table at all
9 Libertarianismis the political philosophy that holds that individual liberty as the basic moral principle of societyIt advocates for strict limits to government activity and shares the goal of maximizing individual liberty and political freedom.
10 Cake Example: If grandma put the cake in front of Simone, she might argue that grandma gave it to her and that she owns it. The others could trade something or buy a piece of the cake from herThe cake was originally owned by grandma as she mixed it with her own labour
11 Natural LawThere is a higher moral law than the laws of private property, which require people to use their property to help othersNatural law theorists do not reject the idea of private propertyinsist that people have an obligation to help those who are less fortunate and to put their wealth to good use even if this means violating a right to use their private property any way they please
12 Should there be Private Property? Some philosophers argue that individuals are custodians, not owners, of propertyIt is their responsibility to distribute property justlyThis egalitarian view point is held by socialists
13 Is it Natural to Want to Own Things? Libertarians and egalitarians have a basic disagreement about whether it is human nature to want private propertyLibertarians: think it is naturalEgalitarians: think it is not natural. Living in a society where private property is considered important is what makes people want itRead Philosophy in Every day life p. 213Is it society’s influence or natural instinct to want to own things?
14 Social ContractSocial Contract: the appropriate relationship between individuals and their government.Social contract arguments assert that individuals unite into political societies by a process of mutual consent, agreeing to abide by common rules and accept corresponding duties to protect themselves and one another from violence and other kinds of harm
15 Locke’s Contract Locke was a libertarian Locke defended the a doctrine that individuals have rights that limit the powers of governmentLocke welcomed the change that the (British) monarch was losing its ability to rule without inputHe argued that the main political power in society should be an elected parliamentThough, people had rights that neither monarchs or parliaments could violateLife, liberty and private property
16 Hobbes’ Contractpeople are mainly interested in preserving their own lives and advancing themselves and people will take whatever means necessary – including killing and threatening others – to do thisIn a world without government who keep the peace through rules, the result would be “war of all against all” and life would be “nasty, brutish, and short.”Through self-interest, people (who are rational) must give up all of their powers to a state and make a social contractGovernment would then have the ability to make and enforce rules and social policies
17 Rawl’s ContractJohn Rawls believes that rational people would want to live under two general rulesFirst, they would want each person to have as much personal liberty as is compatible with everyone else having the same libertiesSecond, they would want to ensure that they are not penalized if they find themselves in a disadvantaged position – any unequal treatment of people must work to the advantage of the least advantaged person
18 Rousseau’s ContractRousseau argued that inequalities are not natural and are avoidableHe believed that the benefits of the world belong to everyone in it“The fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.”Therefore, benefits and burdens should be equal to us all