Essay on "Justice and Fairness"

Essay on "Justice and Fairness"

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Liberal philosopher, John Rawls, has been credited as being one of the largest contributors to the field of social justice of the twentieth century. In his book `Justice as Fairness', Rawls describes his views on the issue of justice in a social sense and outlines the major features of his theory of justice. From his discussions on this topic, one could derive a legitimate assumption of how Rawls' would apply his views on justice to the question of how we should respond to poverty, this I have done in the final segment of my essay.

`Justice as Fairness' gives a lengthy description of the primary subject of justice, which states that it is "The way in which the major social institutions describe fundamental rights and duties and determine the division of advantages from social co operations." Put simply this means that, according to Rawls, social justice focuses on the basic structure of a society and its social institutions, its political constitution and its economic and social arrangements.

Rawls acknowledges that within societies people are born into differing social positions, and he also recognises that "institutions of society favour certain starting places over others." It is for this reason that Rawls has put forward his theory of justice and states that "It is these inequalities, presumably inevitable in the basic structure of any society, to which the principles of social justice must in the first instance apply."

In his theory of justice, Rawls aims to introduce a notion of justice that draws on both Kantianism and Utilitarianism, in that state institutions must universally apply to the notion that they are to respect individual humanity while being consistently conscious of the consequences that their ac...


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...egarding their classes within the state, which is essentially the idea of maximin. Therefore Rawls' approach to justice conveys the notion that our response to poverty should begin on a state level, for it is through the building of just state institutions that his two main principles can begin to take effect, which in turn, as Rawls' would argue, would lead to a more just and equal state which benefited persons of all social rankings.

Therefore Rawls believes that in order to achieve a just state, it must be constructed in the most unbiased way possible. And so one might say that the original position is "the appropriate initial status quo, and thus the fundamental agreements reached in it are fair. This explains the propriety of the name `justice as fairness': it conveys the idea that the principles of justice are agreed to in an initial situation that is fair."

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