The Justice And Distributive Justice

1851 Words8 Pages
As humans, we have innate and strongly held feelings regarding what we consider fair. This idea of fairness is held in high regard by many people and can greatly affect their satisfaction in life. Fairness is fundamental to our ideas of justice. There are two concepts of justice that people hold. These are retributive justice and distributive justice. Retributive justice concerns the distribution of rewards and punishments based on what people deserve. This type of justice is applied on an individual basis. Distributive justice, on the other hand, is applied across society and is the type of justice that directly appeals to our sense of fairness in life. Distributive justice concerns the distribution of benefits in society, as well as the duties that come with these benefits. It specifically entails that resources in a society should be fairly distributed to all members of society. Distributive justice is a highly debated topic, especially in ethics and morality. Despite people having very strong feelings regarding what is fair, and how fairness affects our lives, moral theories can not reach a consensus regarding what method of distributive justice appeals to our sense of fairness and why. One popular moral theory that has been specifically attacked for possibly ignoring this important concept of fairness is utilitarianism. Utilitarianism says that the morality of a situation should be judged based on the consequences it produces. One of the most widely accepted versions of utilitarianism is J.S. Mills Greatest Happiness Principle. This states that something is moral if it maximizes overall happiness. Julia Driver raises an objection to this principle and its application in distributive justice. She says that “Utilitarianism s... ... middle of paper ... ...es their life. In an egalitarian society, the 25 are just as happy at the margin of happiness, and the 75 are extremely happy because they had so little and now they too are at the margin. While happiness points might amount to less in an egalitarian society, the overall happiness of society is actually greatly increased due to the idea of diminishing marginal utility. This clearly shows that egalitarian distribution does in fact lead to the maximization of happiness and would be the distribution that utilitarianism would choose. Overall, I do agree with Driver that utilitarianism is inconsistent with most people’s ideas of distributive justice because they ignore the importance of fairness. However, Driver’s objection does not stand because her method of raising it is flawed and because she completely misunderstands the type of society a utilitarian would promote.
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