Rawls Theory of Justice Essay

Words: 1828
Pages: 8

The conventional accounts of Justice normally begin by stating a fundamental rule of Aristotle – Justice is to treat equals equally and unequals unequally, and that unequal treatment should be in proportion to the inequality. In everyday life though, justice is seen as an attribute of law, while all laws are not necessarily just. Many great socio- political movements of the world have focused from time to time on unjust laws eg Apartheid laws in South Africa and
Caste laws in India. Impartiality and fairness are understood to be the two aspects of justice. But it would be misleading to suggest that Justice refers solely to the fair application of a rule. Some rules, though fairly applied, may produce results repugnant to our
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Rawls accepts that because of the institution of family, inequality would exist even if there were equality of opportunity and education. To illustrate this point, Rawls contrasts the difference between the son of a member of the entrepreneurial class and the son of an unskilled labourer. Rawls finds these inequalities to be beneficial because these create differences in expectations, providing incentives so that the economy becomes more efficient and greater material wealth is generated benefiting everyone including those who are worse off. Rawls, through this premise, does not want to do away with these inherent inequalities. Macpherson finds such a defense of inequality to be inconsistent with Rawls’ initial commitment to the idea of equality. Rawls accepts the inevitability of class division based on income and wealth and Macpherson criticizes it by saying that such

inequalities would adversely affect individual liberty by creating inequality of power in society. Macpherson further argues that Rawls presents an account that rationalizes liberal beliefs and values, and far from being a universal account of justice applicable to all rational human beings, Rawls’ theory is specific and appropriate only for a liberal democratic society with a welfare orientation. Rawls describes a stripped down, abstract, rational, self-interested, individualistic and