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Theories of Justice Justice as a virtue Distributive justice Utilitarianism Justice as fairness (Rawls) Entitlement theory of justice (Nozick)

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Presentation on theme: "Theories of Justice Justice as a virtue Distributive justice Utilitarianism Justice as fairness (Rawls) Entitlement theory of justice (Nozick)"— Presentation transcript:

1 Theories of Justice Justice as a virtue Distributive justice Utilitarianism Justice as fairness (Rawls) Entitlement theory of justice (Nozick)

2 Justice as a virtue Michael Slote, Justice as a Virtue, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Individual trait Social justice –the first virtue of institutions (John Rawls) Justice and ethics –Not all ethical questions are questions of justice –Justice is a virtue that relates to matters of goods, property and distribution

3 Justice and reason Plato –Virtue ethical conception of justice Aristotle –Meritocratic conception of social justice Rationalism –Plato and Aristotle conceptualize justice as moral reasoning

4 Justice and benevolence Moral sentimentalism –Francis Hutcheson (1694 –1746) –David Hume ( ) Natural motives –Benevolence, curiosity, prudence Artificial virtues –Justice, law-abidingness, fidelity to promises, modesty Being virtuous depends on capacity for sympathy –Justice=respect for property Potential for conflict between –Universal/impartial benevolence and –Justice and moral obligation

5 Justice without morality Social contract theory Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau Utilitarianism Consequentialism –Opposed to deontological arguments about goodness of motives determining the moral status of an action Questioning the importance of justice –JS Mill: justice derives from human tendencies to retaliate and to empathize

6 Distributive justice Strict egalitarianism Equality of outcome –Indices for measuring value of goods –Time frames for achieving pattern of distribution –Preservation of pattern Equality of opportunity Meritocratic/desert-based justice Needs-based –Marx: From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs Contribution-based –Social Darwinism

7 Utilitarianism Henry Sidgwick, The Methods of Ethics (1907) 18/19th century, evolved from enlightenment project, classic liberalism Individualist philosophy, but utilitarianism explicitly proposes a moral philosophy that serves to evaluate social arrangements Teleological theory of ethics Two main concepts of ethics The right and the good The good defined independently from the right Judgments of value The right defined as that which maximizes the good

8 Human nature and social welfare Principles for society are derived from principles for individuals Individual strives to realize his own interests, his own greatest good Homo economicus Happiness (Bentham) –Balancing desires –Principle of utility Society aims to advance the welfare of the group –Balancing desires, satisfactions and dissatisfactions of members –Principle of social utility Utilitarians are no egoists; i.e. someone else can be happier than oneself, as long as joint happiness does not decrease

9 Utilitarian justice Any policy or institution which produces a net gain in terms of utility or pleasure for society, is considered just Just is what benefits more than it disadvantages Utilitarian theory of justice is indifferent to the distribution of satisfactions among individuals –Striving for maximum social fulfilment –Net balance principle; no requirement of equality

10 Justice as fairness John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (1971) Justice as the first virtue of social institutions Subject of justice: The basic structure of society Concerning general rules, which are to be permanent The basis for deciding individual cases (of allocation) consistently Justice as fairness Principles of justice are agreed to in an initial situation that is fair Rules decided by members who are on equal terms Rules are to apply for indefinite future Rules applying to every member alike Rules decided upon in the absence of a dominant faction

11 The Original Position Rawlsian thought experiment The original position is defined in such a way that it is a status quo in which any agreements reached are fair. It is a state of affairs in which the parties are equally represented as moral persons and the outcome is not conditioned by arbitrary contingencies or the relative balance of social forces. Thus justice as fairness is able to use the idea of pure procedural justice from the beginning. (120) Imperfect procedural justice: e.g. criminal trial Pure procedural justice: e.g. gambling The idea of the original position is to set up a fair procedure so that any principles agreed to will be just. (136) Rawls original position is a moralists device to propose universal principles of justice for a world of egoists –OP renders egoists morally equal when deciding upon a just social arrangement –Egoism is restricted by ignorance

12 The Veil of Ignorance the parties are situated behind a veil of ignorance. They do not know how the various alternatives will affect their own particular case and they are obliged to evaluate principles solely on the basis of general considerations. No knowledge of own status, social background, talents, psychological make-up, economic, social circumstances, culture, civilization, etc. The veil of ignorance makes possible a unanimous choice of a particular conception of justice. (140) Initial choice: Equal liberty for all (incl. equality of opportunity) –First Principle of Justice Equal distribution of income and wealth Why not allowing for inequalities that work to make everyone better off (Pareto-optimality)?

13 The Difference Principle Inequality is unjust Unless necessary to improve the position of those who are worst-off Rawlsian justice is egalitarian, but not fundamentally rejecting inequalities Just inequalities: incentives Inequality is unjust even if it leaves the worst-off in the same position as before and everyone else better off Weaker principle: inequality unjust if its removal or reduction would improve position of weakest in society Unique concern with the weakest members of society!

14 Entitlement Theory of Justice Robert Nozick Distributive Justice (1973) Anarchy, State and Utopia (1974) Historical vs. current time-slice principles of justice Entitlement theory is historical Justice of a distribution depends on how it came about –Original acquisition of holdings –Transfer of holdings –Rectification of injustice in holdings

15 Liberty and justice Utilitarianism and Rawlsian theory are all ahistorical, current time-slice principles of justice Marxism has a historical element –Claims that workers deserve the product and full fruit of their labor (51) –Entitlement based on past history, valuing work vs. ownership Must the look of justice reside in a resulting pattern rather than in the underlying generating principles? (55) Liberty upsets patterns Those who work overtime because their needs are material are punished (taxed) while those who do not because their needs are immaterial are not Patterned principles of distributive justice necessitate redistributive activities. The likelihood is small that any actual freely arrived at set of holdings fits a given pattern; and the likelihood is nil that it will continue to fit the pattern as people exchange and give. (65)

16 Entitlement and Welfare Understood taxation (beyond what is required for minimal state) as stealing, and as akin to forced labour Used by New Right (Reagan), but less so by Thatcherism, to justify erosion of welfare state Remaining sources of welfare/taxation –Basic taxation for running minimal state –Compensation for acquisition of natural resources –Rectification of historical injustices (illegitimate appropriations) –Inheritance tax for second-generation transfers

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