A Theory of Justice Presented by John Rawls Essay

A Theory of Justice Presented by John Rawls Essay

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In A Theory of Justice John Rawls presents his argument for justice and inequality. Rawls theorizes that in the original position, a hypothetical state where people reason without bias, they would agree to live in a society based on two principles of justice (Rawls 1971, 4). These two principles of justice are named the first and second principles. The first is the equal rights and liberties principle. The second is a combination of the difference principle and the fair equality of opportunity principle, or FEOP (Rawls 1971, 53). Rawls argues that inequality will always be inevitable in any society (Rawls 1971, 7). For example, there will always be a varied distribution of social and economic advantages. Some people will be wealthier than others and some will hold places of greater importance in society. Rawls’s argument is that to ensure the stability of society the two principles of justice are needed to govern the assignment of rights and regulate the inequality (Rawls 1971, 53). Any infringement of an individuals rights or inequality outside the parameters of the principles of justice are unjust.
In order to understand Rawls, one has to understand the theoretical concept of the original position. It lays the groundwork for Rawls’s argument by providing a foundation for society. Calling it a state where people reason without bias is a very general definition that does not at all fully explain all of the different aspects of the original position. The original position, according to Rawls, has to do with a social contract (Rawls 1971, 11). People agree to rules in society that are pursuant to their own general well being. However, they decide on these rules behind what Rawls calls a veil of ignorance. Behind this veil of ignor...


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... his principles of justice to evaluate such an inequality. If rights were not being infringed then he would immediately move on to the second principle criteria. In this scenario, if the workers were getting the greatest benefit then the inequality presented would be justified. For example, if the corporation were putting the increased profits into safer equipment for its workers, or providing insurance, compensation, etc. then it could be said that the inequality is justified. However, if the corporation were keeping it’s profits then the workers are least advantaged, but not getting the greatest benefit, so the inequality would be unjust in Rawls eyes. Allowing the inequality to continue would lead to instability in society and it would violate Rawls’s principles.




Works Cited

Rawls, John. A Theory of Justice. Cambridge, MA: Belknap of Harvard UP, 1971. Print.

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