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Essay Topic 5 - 3

Essay Topic 5: Rawl’s Theory of Justice

Justice iis ia iconcept ithat ihas ibeen ithe ifocal ipoint iof inormative ipolitical itheory iover ithe ipast i50

iyears, iand iJohn iRawl s’s iTheory iof iJustice iis iwidely iseen ias ithe imost iimportant iattempt ito

iformulate ia iphilosophy iof ijustice iand ia itheoretical iprogram ifor iestablishing ia ifair iand

ireasonable isocial iaccount iof isocial ijustice i(Arrow, i1973: i245 ). iRawl s iconsidered ihis itheory ias

ia iway iof ipreserving iindividual iliberty iand isocial ijustice.

iHis ipioneering iwork ihas ispawned ia

igenu ine icritical iindustry isince iits ipublication i(Arrow, i1973: i245) . iIn ithis iessay iI iam igoing ito

icritically idiscuss iand ianalyze iJohn iRawl s’s itheory iof ijustice. iIn iorder ito iachieve ithis, ia

ithorough iintroductory iexplanation iof iRawls’ itheory iwill ibe icarried iout , irefe rring ito iits icontent

iand iwith ithe iuse iof irelevant iexamples. iAnd iwhile iI ido iagree iwith ithe iestablishment iof iRawl s’s

itheory iof ijustice, ithere iare isome iqualities iof ihis itheory ithat iare iimpractical iand icannot ibe

iapplied iin ireality, ihence ithis ipaper ialso iseeks ito iexplain ithe iproblems iwith iRawl s’s itheory.

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iconclusion iwill ithen ibe idrawn iup ifrom ithe idiscussion.

The imain iidea iof ithe itheory iof ijustice

Rawls ibelieves ithat ia isociety ishould ibe iwell istructured iand ifavorable ifor iits icitizens, ibecause ia

iwell -structured istate iis inot ionly idesigned ito iadvance ithe igood iof iits icitizens ibut iit iis ialso

ieffectively iregulated iby ia ipublic ico nception iof ijustice i(Rawls, i1971: i207) .

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iRawls i(Rawls, i197

iclaim s ithat ihis iaim iwas ito i’presen t ia iconception iof ijustice iwhich igeneralizes iand icarries ito ia

ihigher ilevel iof iabstraction ithe ifamiliar itheory iof ithe isocial icontract ias ifound , iin iLocke,

iRousseau iand iKant.’ iRawls ihas icreated iwhat iis ipossibly ithe imost iabstract iversion iof ithe isocial

icontract itheory. iRather ithan ishowing ithat iwe iwould ior ieven ihave isigned ito ia icontract ito

iestablish isociety, iit iinstead ishows ius iwhat iwe imust ibe iwilling ito iaccept ias irational ipersons iin

iorder ito ibe iconstrained iby ijustice iand itherefore icapable iof iliving iin ia iwell iordered isociety . i

Rawls itheorizes ithat iin ithe ioriginal iposition, iwhich iis ia ihypothetical isituation ideveloped ias ia

ithought iexperiment ithat iasks, iwhat iprincip les iof isocial ijustice iwould ibe ichosen iby iparties iin

idepth iknowledge iabout ihuman iaffairs iin igeneral . iThese itwo iprincipals iof ijustice iare irelated ito

ieach iother iby ia ispecific iorder. iThe ifirst iprincipal iis ithe iequal irights iand iliberties iprincipal. iIt

iadvocates ifor ieveryone ito ihave ithe ibest ipossible ilife iwithout icausing iharm ito iothers i(Rawls,

i1971: i213 ), iit iis iprior ito ithe isecond iprincipal iwhich idistributes isocial iand ieconomic igoods. iIn

iother iwords, iwe icannot ichoose ito iforgo isome iour icivil iliberties iin ifavor iof igreater ieconomic

iadvantage i, irather iwe imust isatisfy ithe ineeds iof ithe ifirst iprincipal, ibefore imoving ion ito ithe


iThese iprincipals iare imore ifundamental ithan ithe isocial icontract ias iit ihas itraditionally ibeen

iconceived. iThese iprincipals icompel ithat icontract, iand ilay iout ithe ilimits iof ihow ito ishape ithe

iideal isociety . iFor iexample, iif iwe iconsider ithe iconstitution ias ithe iconcrete iexpression iof ithe

isocial icontract itheory, iRawl’s iprincipals iof ijustice idescribe iwhat isuch ia iconstitution ican iand

icannot ireq uire iof ius . iAny iinfringements iof ian iindividual’s irights ior iinequality ioutside ithe

iparameters iof ithe iprincipals iof ijustice iare iunjust. iIn iother iwords, ipeople iagree ito irules iin

isociety ithat iare ipursuant ito itheir iown igeneral iwell -being. iHowever, ithey idecide ion ithese irules

ibehind iwhat iRawls icalls ithe i’The iveil iof iignorance’ i(Rawls, i1971: i217).

The iveil iof iignorance iis ia iconcept ifounded iby iJohn iRawls ithat ilinks ito ihow ia ijust isociety ican

ibe iformed. iBehind ithis iveil iof iignorance , ipeople iare iunaware iof itheir iidentity. iThey iare

icompletely ioblivious ito ithings ilike igender, irace, ior ilevel iof iintelligence. iFurthermore ithey

ihave ino iconcept iof ieconomic istanding ior isocial istanding. iThe iindividuals iare icapable iof

ideveloping ijustice ito iact iin ia iway ithat iis ia ilot imore ijust ithan iin ia isociety iwhere iinequality iis

irife i(Kannan, i2010). iThe ipurpose iof ithe iveil iof iignorance iis ito iallow ithose iin ithe ioriginal

ipositi on ito iagree ion irules iconcerning itheir iown imutual iinterests. iRawls ithinks ithat ibehind ithe

iveil iof iignorance, ifree iof iprejudice iand iunfairness iwith ireasonable ithought, iindividuals iwould

iagree ito ia isociety igoverned iby ihis iprincipals iof ijustice . iHe ibelieves ithis, ibecause iit iwould ibe

ithe ionly iway ito iensure ia ifair iinitial istatus iquo iin isociety. iThis iis isignificant ias iit iallows ifor

ijustified iinequalities iwhich ilater iwill ibe iregulated iof iunjust iinequalities. iPeople iwouldn’t iwant

ito imake ithings iunequal ifrom ithe istar t, ibecause ithey iwould ihave ino iway iof iknowing itheir

iactual iplace iin isociety ibehind ithe iveil iof iignorance. iFor iexample, iif isomeone ihad isuggested

ithat iall iUCT istudents iget ifree ituition iat ithe iexpense iof iother iuniversities ipaying ifor iit, iit iwould

ibe iwithin ithe iindividuals ibest iinterest ito idisagree ias ihe ihas ino iway iof iknowing iif ihe iis ia iUCT

istudent iin isociety ior ione iof ithe iother iuniversities istudents ithat inow ihave ito ipay imore.

The iproblems iwith iRawls’ iTheory iof iJustice

There iare imany ipossible iproblems iwith iRawls’ itheory iof ijustice . iThe ifirst iproblem iarises ifrom

ithe iimpractical inature iof ithe ioriginal iposition iand ithe iveil iof iignorance. iThe iveil iof iignorance

iis iconsidered ia ithought iexperiment i(Wen ar, i2018). iAnd iin ithis ithought iexperiment, icitizens

ihave irespective irepresentatives ithat iwill ireach ian iagreement iand icome iup iwith istandards iof

ijustice ithat iwill iinitiate ithe ipolitical iorder iof ithe icitizens i(Wener, i2018) . iCitizens ineed

irepresentatives iso ithat ithere iare ino ifactors ithat iwill iinfluence ithe iprocess iapart ifrom ithe idesire

iof ithe ifee iand iequal icitizens. iIf ithe itheory iof ijustice iwere ito ibe iapplied iin ireality, ithe ioriginal

iposition iwould inot iwork . iThough iit iis imerely iimagery, iif isomeone iwere ito iconstruct ia iconcept

ifor isociety, ithere iwouldn’t ibe iany iroom ifor iimagination. iCitizens imay ibe iequal iand ifree, ibut

ithey ialso ihave itheir iown iinterests, iand iit iis iin itheir inature ito iprotect ithose iinterests . iHaving

irepresentatives iwill inot iwork ieither, ithis iis ibecause ithe isaid irepresentatives ihave itheir iown

iinterests itoo. iCitizens imay iseek ifairness iand iequality, ibut iin ithe iend, ithey ialso ihave ineeds ithey

iwant ito ibe iaddressed.

The iveil iof iignorance iis ianother iproblem. iThe iveil iof iignorance iis isupposed ito iconceal ithe

ifactors ithat imay iaffect ithe ijudgment iof ithe isaid icitizens i(Rawls, i1971: i213) . iFactors ithat ithe

iveil iis isupposed ito iconceal iare igender, irace, iand ifinancial istatus iand ithe ilike i(Kannan, i2010) .

iThough ithe iprocess iof ijustice iwill ibe iunbiased , iand ithe ifactors imentioned imay inot ibe

irevealed, ibut ieach iand ievery ione iof ius ihas ibias. iEver yone ihas ipreconceived iopinions iand

inotions iof ipeople iand ithings, iand ithese ibiases iwill iwork iagainst ithe igoal iof ifairness.

Rawls iin ihis itheory iformulates ia iseemingly iuniversal imoral itheory i(Munoz -Darde, i1998: i336).

iHowever iamong iits imost ifundamental iassumpt ions iare isome ithat icould ijustify ia idifferential

imorality ifor iwoman i(Munoz -Darde, i1998: i337) . iRawls iconsiders ilove iand ithe ifamily iunit ito

ibe iso inatural ithat ihe idoes inot iinclude ithem iin ithe iscope iof ithe iprincipals iof ijustice iwhere iall

iother iinstitutions iare isubject iin ithe ijust isociety i(Munoz -Darde, i1998: i336) . iBy idoing iso,

iRawls imay iretain ia inuclear ifamily istructure iwith ia isexual idivision iof ilabo r, iwhich iis ithe

idelegation iof idifferent itasks ion ithe ibasis iof ithe isex iof ithe iperson. iMale iand ifema le ichildren

iwill ihave idifferent iexperiences iwithin ithis ikind iof ifamily istructure. iThis iinstitutionalized

iinjustice iwill imost ilikely iprevent iboth isexes ifrom ideveloping ithe icrucial isense iof ijustice.

iRawls’ itheory iis ithus iflawed ifrom iits ivery iestablishment. iAn iunjust ifamily istructure icannot

iproduce ijust icitizens.


In ithe iview iof ithe iargument ipresented iabove, iit ican ibe istated ithat iRawls’ imain iaim iof ithe

iTheory iof ijustice iis ito iestablish ia ifair iand ireasonable isocial iaccount iof isocial ijustice i(Rawls,

i1971: i207) . iTo ithis, ihe italks iabout ithe itwo ifundamental iprinciples iof ijustice, iwhich iif

iimplemented iinto isociety, iwould igrantee ia ifair iand ijust iway iof ilife i(Rawls, i1971: i213) . iRawls

isets iup ia ihypothetical icontract ito itest iwhat ihe iwishes ito iestablish ifor iso ciety. iThis ihypothetical

icontract iis icalled ithe ioriginal iposition, iand iit iis ia ineutral ispace iwhich iallows iindividuals ito

imake idecisions ifor isociety iwithout ithe iinterference iof iprior iknowledge iabout isociety. iThe

itheory iof ijustice iis ialso igreat iin iidea, ibut idifficult iin iapplication. iThe iflaw iof itheory ilies iin ithe

iveil iof iignorance iand ithe ioriginal iposition. iBoth iconcepts iare igreat iin itheory ibut ithey icannot

ibe iapplied iin ireality.

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