The Role of Justice in Society

2376 Words10 Pages
The Role of Justice in Society Through the egalitarian reasoning of John Rawls and the act-utilitarianist perspective of J.J.C. Smart, I will analyze the concept of justice. In accordance with Rawls, I intend to argue that any changes in society that will increase the burden carried by the poorest 5% are unjust, even if these changes increase the average level of happiness for the other 95%. With regard to ethics, justice is defined as fairness, where all situations should be treated alike. For one to exhibit justice, one must portray the quality of being fair and reasonable in all situations. While egalitarians evaluate justice based on equality, utilitarians are only interested in justice as a means to an end. Smart advocates the principle of utility, which defines the morally action as whatever produces the greatest net happiness for everyone affected by that act. To identify an act as ‘just,’ Rawls employs the theory of justice as fairness. This theory stresses the principle of equal rights, and that an act is ‘just’ if equality is realized by everyone affected by the act. Before delving into John Rawls’ views on a ‘just’ society it is essential to understand his perception of the role of justice in society, as described in his book A Theory of Justice. Justice in society enforces individual’s rights and to “[deny] that the loss of freedom for some is made right by a greater good shared by others”. When the notion of justice becomes shared by all citizens, and equality is achieved, civility between members of society will restrict the use of some individuals as means to personal ends. Overall, Rawls argues that the most distinctive role of justice in society is to equally distribute rights and duties to individuals. The underlying egalitarian viewpoint is that individuals do not possess any characteristics that would “justify inequalities in the distribution of social benefits and burdens”. The principles of justice, as depicted in Rawls book, are chosen by individuals an initial position of equality. These principles can be applied to solve structural issues in society such as the distribution of social and economic advantages, the distribution of basic rights and duties to citizens. Rawls argues that in order for the principles of justice to establish an ideal society, where equality between citizens is realized, several hypothetical ... ... middle of paper ... ... interest while in pursuit of maximizing happiness. Overall I agree with the principles set forth by John Rawls in his book A Theory of Justice, because it protects against discrimination of the lowest 5 of the population whose voice is usually discredited and overlooked in society. Works Cited Bayles, Michael, ed. Contemporary Utilitarianism. Garden City: Anchor, 1968 Hoffman, Michael W, Robert E. Fredrick, and Mark S. Schwartz. Business Ethics Readings and Cases in Corporate Morality. 4th Canadian ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2001 Lamont, Julian. "Distributive Justice." The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2003 Edition). Main. Edward N. Zalta. 13 March 2004. . Nussbaum, Martha. The Enduring Significance of John Rawls. Evatt Foundation. 13 March 2004. Rawls, John. A Theory of Justice. Revised Canadian Ed. Cambridge: The Belknap Press, 1971 Scott, Alex. John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice. 14 March 2003. Smart, and Bernard Williams. Utilitarianism: For and Against. Trowbridge: Redwood Burn, 1973 Utilitarianism Resources. BLTC Research. 15 March 2004. Williams, Jon. An Examination of John Rawls’s Critique of Utilitarianism. 13 March 2004

More about The Role of Justice in Society

Open Document