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PH214 - Rawls
Terms in this set (29)
How would you best describe Rawls' conception of justice?
Justice as fairness
For Rawls, what should there be in an ideal society?
Fair terms of social cooperation. A principled reconciliation of liberty and equality.
According to Rawls, what two capacities do all normal, decently educated adults possess to a minimum degree?
(i) The capacity to form and pursue a plan of life
(ii) The capacity to propose and abide by fair terms of co-operation if others do so too
Under what circumstances is justice both necessary and possible?
When there's scarcity of resources and/or a conflict of interests
What is the original position?
The initial position of equality in which the correct principles of justice are chosen. It is meant to be a fair and impartial point of view from which just principles of justice will be chosen. The world around us provides unjust circumstances from which to draw our principles of justice therefore we need to abstract away from these circumstances in order to come up with fair terms of cooperation for society
What is one assumption Rawls makes about people in the Original Position?
They are self-interested
What does Rawls put people behind in the original position so that they come up with just terms for social cooperation?
The Veil of Ignorance
What does the Veil of Ignorance make parties ignorant of?
Race, gender, and socioeconomic class; physical and mental abilities; conception of the good and goals; particular psychological dispositions (e.g. aversion to risk)
Why do we put the choosers of principles of justice behind a Veil of Ignorance?
To ensure impartiality of judgement in choosing just principles of justice. The parties are deprived of all knowledge of their personal characteristics and social and historical circumstances. The veil is supposed to eliminate bargaining advantage and bias and secure the equality of the parties in the original position. This "veil" essentially blinds people to all facts about themselves so they cannot tailor principles to their advantage.
For Rawls, what is the consequence of putting choosers in the Original Position behind a Veil of Ignorance?
They would all choose the distributive principle which would maximise the prospects of the least well-off. They would make choices similar to altruistic choices with full information (self-interested choice behind the Veil is similar to an altruistic choice with full information). Also, by requiring that the principles chosen are unanimously agreed on, Rawls ensures that the principles will be acceptable to all.
What is the first objection to the Veil? How would Rawls respond to this objection?
The claim that a fully informed choice is superior to one made behind the Veil. Rawls could respond by using the example of examinations, where full information about a candidate is withheld so there are no biases upon grading. Putting people behind the Veil stops them from tailoring the principles to their advantage.
What is another objection to the Veil?
Another objection to the veil is the impossibility of choosing in one's self interest if one were deprived of knowledge of who one is.
What is Rawls' response to this objection?
One can choose principles that ensure an adequate supply of primary goods that every rational person is presumed to want: liberty and opportunity, income and wealth and the social bases of self respect.
What is Nagel's objection to the Veil?
Nagel doesn't think we should be deprived of knowledge of our conception of the good, since if someone favours certain principles because of his conception of the good, he will not be seeking special advantages for himself so long as he does not know who in the society he is. Rather, he will be opting for principles that advance the good for everyone, as defined by his conception.
What could Rawls' response to Nagel's objection be?
He could reply with the claim that if a person knew of his conception of the good, he could infer his socioeconomic class, etc and that our conceptions of the good have been shaped by the circumstances of injustice.
What is Rawls' actual response?
One's particular conception of the good does not provide grounds that all reasonable people could accept
What are the two principles of justice Rawls says will be chosen in the Original Position? What role do they play?
1. The Liberty Principle 2.(a) the principle of
fair equality of opportunity [FEO] and 2.(b) the Difference Principle. They govern the assignment of rights and duties and regulate the distribution of social and economic advantages across society to produce an outcome which is acceptable and fair to all.
What is the First Principle of justice chosen in the original position?
The First Principle is the Liberty Principle. It states that each person has an equal right to the most extensive set of basic liberties, compatible with an equal liberty for all others. These basic liberties include political liberty, freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of the person, including freedom from arbitrary arrest and seizure, and the right to hold personal property
Give a brief outline of the role of the Liberty Principle.
It 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.
Why would choosers in the Original Position choose the Liberty Principle?
Because the choosers are assumed to be self-interested and risk averse, so they would think it reckless to gamble away their liberties. This principle would guarantee them an entitlement to the basic liberties considered essential to a person's well-being.
What is the Second Principle?
Social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that they are both:
(a) to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged [Difference Principle]... and
(b) attached to offices and positions open to all under conditions of fair equality of opportunity [FEO]
Give a brief outline of the role of the Second Principle and what it allows.
The second principle provides fair equality of educational and employment opportunities enabling all to fairly compete for powers and prerogatives of office. It secures for all a guaranteed minimum of the all-purpose means (including income and wealth) that individuals need to pursue their interests and to maintain their self-respect as free and equal persons. It permits the existence of socioeconomic and material inequalities if these are to the advantage of those who are worst-off.
Why would choosers in the OP choose the DP as one of their principles of justice?
The argument for the DP is grounded in assumptions that (i) individuals do not know which class they will end up in, (ii) they care little about gains above the minimum, and (iii) alternatives to DP would involve grave and unacceptable risks.
Rawls also thinks that the DP reflects the fact that we should treat people as ends in themselves and not as means.
Describe the relationship between Rawls' principles of justice.
The Liberty Principle is lexically prior to the Second Principle of justice. The First Principle of justice has to be realised
before the latter and the latter cannot override the former. Within the Second Principle of Justice, Rawls thinks that FEO is lexically prior to the DP.
Name and describe the process by which we prune and adjust our Principles of justice.
It is the process of Reflective Equilibrium. RE is the process of checking that our chosen principles of justice match our 'considered intuitive judgements'. It is called 'equilibrium' because it guides us to the point where our principles and judgments coincide; and it is reflective since we know to what principles our judgments conform and the premises of their derivation. If our principles contradict or have consequences which go against our most basic moral intuitions (such as slavery being wrong), then we need to revise our principles.
What is Sandel's 'Communitarian Critique'?
He argues that Rawls mischaracterises the self in a normatively important way. He argues that the self in the original position fails to be human in any substantive sense because a purely rational agent stripped of all desires, conceptions of the good, and attachments can't have a reliable or realistic conception of morality.
Does Rawls' First Principle of basic liberties include property rights?
Rawls thinks that freedom of the person includes having a right to hold and enjoy personal property. Rawls thinks that private property ought to be permitted because otherwise many of the basic liberties cannot be enjoyed or exercised. Having private property helps us pursue our life goals. He briefly mentions private property as part of a list of basic liberties
Would Rawls be against redistributive taxation?
Rawls would not be against redistributive taxation, whereas Nozick would be. Nozick would think that it would violate individuals rights. It might be possible to read the difference principle as involving taxation. It might be that a banker is allowed to earn thousands of pounds, but only if these benefits help benefit the worst off (through maybe taxing this banker so that the wealth can be redistributed to the worst off).
Would they be willingly redistribute if they internalise his principles of justice?
Rawls assumes the ideal conditions of a perfectly just, or 'well ordered' society in which everyone accepts and complies with principles of justice. So within Rawls's theory, it would be assumed that individuals would be aware of, and happy to comply with, the principles of justice because they see the principles of justice as just. Rawls assumes 'strict compliance'.
THIS SET IS OFTEN IN FOLDERS WITH...
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