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john Rawls Theory of Justice- the original position and veil of ignorance/justice as fairness
Define "justice" according to Rawls Summarize Rawls' two principles of justice Critique the premise of Rawls' theory, the "original position"
Terms in this set (29)
What was Rawls social contract theory used to generate?
contract theory are principles of justice for assigning basic rights
and duties and determining the division of social benefits in a society. Rawls argues that the two
principles that would be reached through an agreement in an original position of fairness and
1) each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive basic liberty
compatible with a similar liberty for others and
2) social and economic inequalities are to be
arranged so that they are both a) reasonably expected to be to everyone's advantage; and b)
attached to positions and offices open to all.
what does rawls say about tolerating injustice?
an injustice is tolerable only when it is necessary to avoid an even greater injustice.
What is the role of justice?
justice is the basic structure of society, or more exactly, the way in which the major social institutions
distribute fundamental rights and duties and determine the division of advantages from social
cooperation; It does not allow that the sacrifices imposed on a few are outweighed by the larger sum of advantages enjoyed by many.
what is the main idea of the theory of justice?
his main idea is that free and rational persons concerned to further their own interests would accept in an initial position of equality as defining the fundamental terms of their association
what is one feature of justice?
one feature is to think of the parties in the initial situation as rational and mutually disinterested; they are conceived as not taking an interest in one another's interests (the veil of ignorance)
why is Rawl's "original position" used as the appropriate setting for a social contract?
the original position is understood as a purely hypothetical situation characterized so as to lead to a certain conception of justice;
Among the essential features of this situation is that no one knows his place in society, his class
position or social status, nor does anyone know his fortune in the distribution of natural assets
and abilities, his intelligence, strength, and the like. I shall even assume that the parties do not
know their conceptions of the good or their special psychological propensities. The principles of
justice are chosen behind a veil of ignorance.
The choice which rational men would make in this hypothetical situation of equal liberty, assuming
for the present that this choice problem has a solution, determines the principles of justice.
what does the term "justice as fairness" means?
justice as fairness conveys the idea that the principles of justice are agreed to in an initial situation that is fair.
what are Rawls 2 principles of justice?
1. The first guarantees the equal basic rights and liberties needed to secure the fundamental interests of free and equal citizens and to pursue a wide range of conceptions of the good.
2. The second principle provides fair equality of educational and employment opportunities enabling all to fairly compete for powers and positions of office; and it secures for all a guaranteed minimum of all-purpose means (including income and wealth) individuals need to pursue their interests and to maintain their self-respect as free and equal persons.
what does Rawls refer to as the basic structure of social institutions?
1. political constitution (legislating and enforcing laws, trials and adjudicating disputes
2. economic system - property, transfer and distribution, contracual relations
3. permissible forms of family, which is needed to perpetuate society
many societies can exist without the support of religious institutions
how does rawls describe a moral person?
a moral person regards themselves as free and equal, have a conception of their rational good, and also have a "sense of justice."
Critique the premise of Rawls' theory, the "original position"
1. his original position is fictional
2. does not represent the reality of society (rich/poor,advantaged/disadvantaged)
3. The original position abstracts from all information about current circumstances and the status quo, including everyone's desires and particular interests.
what is wrong with Rawls' veil of ignorance?
his veil of ignorance states that even if the parties can make certain rational decisions in their interest without knowledge of their final ends, still they cannot come to a decision about principles of justice.
For justice consists, allegedly, of the measures that effectively promote good consequences. Without knowledge what is ultimately good (however that is to be defined) the parties cannot discover the principles of justice that best promote it.
what does rawls mean by "the reasonable frames the rational"?
the reasonable frames the rational means the Original Position is a situation where rational choice of the parties is made subject to reasonable (i.e. moral) constraints.
what is the "conception of their good?"
the conception of good is their primary values and purposes and the best way of life for themselves to live given their purposes. This conception incorporates their primary aims, ambitions, and commitments to others, and is informed by the conscientious moral, religious, and philosophical convictions that give meaning for them to their lives.
what 3 factors motivate the parties involved in the original position?
(1) First, they aim to advance their determinate conception of the good, or rational plan of life, even though they do not know what that conception is. Moreover, they also seek conditions that enable them to exercise and develop their "moral powers,"
(2) their rational capacities to form, revise and pursue a conception of their good, and
(3) their capacity to be reasonable and to have a sense of justice. These are the three "higher-order interests" the parties to Rawls's original position aim to promote in their agreement on principles of justice.
The three higher-order interests provide the basis for Rawls's account of primary social goods
what does rawls concept of "the rational" mean?
"the rational" concerns a person's good—hence Rawls refers to his account of the good as "goodness as rationality."
what does rawls concept of "the reasonable" mean?
"the reasonable" has to do with the concept of right, which includes individual moral duties and moral requirements of right and justice applying to institutions and society.
what does rawls consider to be independent aspects of practical reason?
independent aspects of practical reason are rationality and reasonableness
what is also essential to being reasonable?
being reasonable means having a sense of justice - The sense of justice is a normally effective desire to comply with duties and obligations required by justice; it includes a willingness to cooperate with others on terms that are fair and that reasonable persons can accept and endorse.
what does rawls refer to as primary social goods?
The primary goods are the all-purpose social means that are necessary to the exercise and development of the moral powers and to pursue a wide variety of conceptions of the good.
what are the 2 circumstances of justice?
objective - physical facts about human beings, such as their rough similarity in mental and physical faculties, and vulnerability to the united force of others.
subjective - Free and equal persons have their own plans of life and special commitments to others, as well as different philosophical and religious beliefs and moral doctrines
rational persons behind the veil of ignorance would choose what 2 general principles of justice?
1) Principle of Equal Liberty: Each person has an equal right to the most extensive liberties compatible with similar liberties for all. (Egalitarian.)
2) Difference Principle/distributism: Social and economic inequalities should be arranged so that they are both (a) to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged persons, and (b) attached to offices and positions open to all under conditions of equality of opportunity.
what is libertarianism?
libertarianism is a political philosophy holding that the role of the state in society ought to be severely limited, confined essentially to police protection, national defense, and the administration of courts of law, with all other tasks commonly performed by modern governments - education, social insurance, welfare, and so forth - taken over by religious bodies, charities, and other private institutions operating in a free market. - advocacy follows from a serious respect for individual rights.
according to rawls, justice is a virtue of what kind of institution?
justice is a virtue of social institutions
What are the principles of social justice intended to do?
social justice is intended To assign basic rights and duties and to distribute social benefits
If the "original position" is just hypothetical, what reason does Rawls give for its value as the basis for a consideration of justice?
Rawls argues that using a hypothetical thought-experiment like the "original position" allows us to reflect upon justice and envision our objectives for justice "from afar" -- that is, from a more detached or seemingly objective standpoint without our personal, individual considerations clouding our judgment.
Why does the "original position" ensure "justice as fairness?"
Because, without making decisions based on one's own personal interests, one is likely to choose a conception of justice that is most fair to everyone without favoring anyone in particular
What is the role of inequality in Rawls' justice as fairness?
It is permissible as long as it is beneficial to everyone in the society
what is the veil of ignorance?
the veil of ignorance is a method of determining the morality of a certain issue (e.g., slavery);
parties to the original position know nothing about their particular abilities, tastes, and position within the social order of society.
When such parties are selecting the principles for distribution of rights, positions, and resources in the society they will live in, the veil of ignorance prevents them from knowing about who they will be in that society.
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