The Relationship Between Justice and the Good

Powerful Essays
The relationship between justice and the good is and has been debated for thousands of years between many intelligent philosophers. Many theorists have attempted to to explain the exact characteristics and outline a moral distribution of possessions. From just after the First World War to present day, liberal perspectives emerged and flourished across a variety of ideological theories and continue to influence political thinking in regards to rights, equality and freedom. With this emergence came two very influential theorists in libertarian political philosophy, Robert Nozick and John Rawls, who take very different approaches to how justice relates to the good. Both Nozick and Rawls argue for liberty above equality, and that there is some degree of equality necessary within a society, however approach it from very different angles.
Rawls investigates the nature of individuals and their relations with justice, while comparing other individuals leading to the overall moral nature (Rawls, 196). Rawls believes society is one that is shaped by peace and conflict of interests, and peace is social cooperation, thereby offering the opportunity for individuals to live a better life than if they had to live alone. Society is shaped by a conflict of interests because everyone would rather have a larger share of property than a smaller one, of which they would achieve alone (Rawls, 196). The concern with distributive justice is seen to compensate the misfortune in society. Some have more property than others by pure luck and is the responsibility of everyone to distribute the scarcity in life.
Rawls’ theory of distributive justice introduces the “original position” associated with the “Reflective Equilibrium” (Rawls, 199), where individuals ...

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...nd offers an appealing argument of the acquisition of justly held goods, through his principles of acquisition, transfer and rectification he offers as a plausible method for why people should be entitled to the outcomes from their natural assets such as ability, talent and knowledge. It is unlikely that those who inherit large sums of property will question this entitlement, even if that person does not deserve it, or there were other people in society who would benefit from it more.


Rawls, John “A Theory of Justice” in Elizabeth Smith and H Gene Blocker (eds.) Applied Social and Political Philosophy (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1994) pp 194 210

Nozick, Robert “Anarchy, State and Utopia” in Ethizabeth Smith and H Gene Blocker (eds) Applied Social and Political Philosophy (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1994) pp. 210-19
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