Critically Analyze Rawl’s theory of justice as fairness.

Rawl’s theory of justice: The utilitarian theory of justice was replaced by an alternate theory of justice by, an American philosopher John Rawl through his book “A Theory of Justice”. Rawl begins by describing justice as the first virtue of social institutions and set out to discover what principles of justice are most defensible. He developed a contractarian theory since for Rawls, justice is the foundation of social structure, all political and legislative decisions must take place with the limits of the principles of justice. These things are called primary goods.

They are two types :

  • Social goods,
  • Natural goods.

Theory of justice is based on contract like Hobbes and Locke, Rawls also talks of a social state of nature in which people would decide consequently on the form of society that they would agree to live in. His presumption is that given a chance/they will choose a society which is ‘just under the strife conditions of impartial choice’. He make number of assumption like :

All of them are mutually indifferent, as long as they satisfy their own interest they do not suffer from envy.
In agreeing to form a society, they all seek to maximize satisfaction of their own interests like rights, liberty, opportunities, income or wealth.

They will be under a ‘veil of ignorance’ which prevents them from knowing the full details of others talents. This situation is called by Rawls as “original position” in which everyone has particular ‘wisdom’ and ‘general ignorance’. Rawls says that people should choose two principles of justice:

  • Each person to have an equal right to the most extensive basic liberties compatible with similar liberties of others.
  • Social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that both are: (i) to the greatest benefit to the least advantaged, and (ii) attached to positions and offices open to all under conditions of fair equality of opportunity. At social and economic level, Rawls is in favor of re-distributive justice. He rising Laissez faire view of classical liberalism.
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