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Rousseau - whats in the common good? whats the general will?

not supposed to reect you own personal interests. should reect whats in the good of the community. should not be distorted by personal likes and dislikes. No device in Rousseau for how we might reach this point. Rawls helps us see how we can arrive at this. Original position Veil of ignorance Reective Equilibrium **** We can see that Rawls is responding both to utilitarianism and to Marxism. Lets talk rst about Rawls rejection of utilitarianism. We can then go about discussing the rudimentary elements of his theory the original position and the two principles of justice. Finally, time permitting, we can try to situate Marx and Rawls in dialogue. *** Rawlss ambition is to provide a reasonable systematic alternative (TJ, xi, emphasis added) to utilitarianism Q: How does Rawls reject utilitarianism? Rawls claims that utilitarianism violates the separateness of persons (see also Williams 1973). According to Rawls, a sound theory of justice must begin from an ideal of people as free and equal and work out a structure of basic institutional arrangements which never treats people as mere means, and treats them always as ends in themselves. That is what justice as fairness sets out to do. A. First, let us examine his rejection of utilitarianism. His rejection can be summed up in the following way: Utilitarianism does not take seriously the distinction between persons (s. 5). Utilitarianism extends the principle of rational choice for one person to society as a whole. B. Good dened independent of the right. Under utilitarianism, what is good for individuals (happiness) is dened independently of principle of justice; and the right principles of justice are those that maximize the good. There is no independent consideration for what the right principles of justice are under utilitarian other than by reference to the good. C. No concern for distributive justice. No Egalitarian Commitment: Its aim is to maximize aggregate overall satisfaction; and if an unequal distribution is maximizing and a more equal distribution is not, the utilitarian will opt for

the maximizing arrangement. Just as a single person will distribute her present and future losses/ gains in a way that will maximize her satisfaction in the course of her life, so society will distribute satisfaction among persons in ways that will maximize satisfaction for society as a whole. The striking feature of the utilitarian view of justice is that it does not matter, except indirectly, how this sum of satisfactions is distributed among individuals, anymore than it matters, except indirectly, how one man distributes his satisfactions over time (s. 5). U treats liberties to have only derivative worth, secondary to the goal of the maximization of overall happiness (s. 5). Individuals are thus seen, under utilitarianism, only as so many different lines along which rights and duties are to be assigned and scarce means of satisfaction allocated in accordance with rules so as to give the greatest fulllment of wants (s. 5). The striking feature of the utilitarian view of justice is that it does not matter, except indirectly, how this sum of satisfactions is distributed among individuals, anymore than it matters, except indirectly, how one man distributes his satisfactions over time (s. 5).

Utilitarianism is an example of a teleological theory, according to Rawls. A teleological theory is one that (a) denes the good independently of the right and (2) identies the right with maximization of the good. In justice as fairness, by contrast, the principles of right (morality, justice) are determined to be what they are pretty much independently of what is good. Once the principles of right are at hand, and regulate society, each individual should develop a conception of the good and a plan of life that does not require violation of rights for its fulllment. A person's satisfactions taken in violation of other people's rights should not count positively at all in the determination of just social policy.

Rawls proposes to develop a theory of justice by revising the social contract tradition of theorizing about justice associated with the 17th and 18th century writers John Locke, JeanJacques Rousseau, and Immanuel Kant. According to Rawls, justice is what free and equal persons would agree to as basic terms of social cooperation in conditions that are fair for this purpose. This idea he calls "justice as fairness." The conditions that Rawls takes to be most appropriate for the choice of principles of justice constitute what he calls the "original position." Thus his contractualism:

What I have attempted to do is to generalize and carry to a higher order of abstraction the traditional theory of the social contract as represented by Locke, Rousseau and Kant. [T]his theory seems to offer an alternative systematic account of justice that is superior, or so I argue, to the dominant utilitarianism of the tradition. [I]t is this conception, I believe, which best approximates our considered judgments of justice and constitutes the most appropriate moral basis for a democratic society. *** Distributive Justice: Justice in the distribution of goods/wealth End state conceptions of DJ: Say there is some overall pattern of distribution that we should aim at. Justice is a matter of closeness to these desired patterns. Examples: --Perfect equality; -distribution in accordance with need; --distribution in accordance with desert/merit. Historical conceptions of DJ: Say that whether a person is entitled to some bit of wealth depends on the process by which he got it. Justice is a matter of following the right rules in acquiring property. *** Rawls John Rawls holds that the principles of justice are what free, rational, mutually disinterested persons would choose (in an initial situation of equality) as basic terms of cooperation to regulate a society they expect to inhabit. The original position is his name for the philosophically most favored interpretation of this choice situation. Rawls advances two types of arguments for his proposed principles of justice: (1) they match our considered judgments about what justice requires in various particular circumstances, and (2) they would be chosen in the original position. The original position is supposed to register our intuitive judgments concerning the circumstances that render the choice of moral principles a fair choice. So well go over some of the basic ideas in Rawls political philosophy and evaluate them. Well discuss the original position; as we do so, well touch upon what he means by the veil of ignorance as well as what the reective ignorance is. Next, well go on to talk about justice as fairness and the two principles of justice. ***

the circumstances of justice obtain whenever persons put forward conicting claims to the division of social advantages under conditions of moderate scarcity. Original position Recall contractarian devices utilized by social theorists (Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau): Rawls wants to use a similar device of hypothetical consent. In OP people are free and equal. What principles would such people choose to regulate their lives? Some Essential Characteristics: 1. Parties are situated symmetrically; they are in fair initial conditions of equality. (A more abstract state of nature.) Thus the idea of justice as fairness: [T]he name justice as fairness ... conveys the idea that the principles of justice are agreed to in an initial situation that is fair. The name does not mean that the concepts of justice and fairness are the same, any more than the phrase poetry as metaphor means that the concepts of poetry and metaphor are the same. (TJ, 11) 2. Parties are neither people in our society, nor people in a just society; they are merely the articial creatures created for purposes of deliberation. 3. Parties are rational: they can rank their ends consistently. But the reasonable conditions imposed on them (see 1. above) constrain them in reaching a rational agreement on principles of justice. Justice as fairness is not a part of the theory of rational choice. [To say that it is part of the theory of rational choice] would imply that justice as fairness is at bottom Hobbesian (as Hobbes is often interpreted) rather than Kantian. (JFR, 82)] In other words: there is no contract for mutual advantage, but rather hypothetical agreement (constrained by reasonable conditions) on what is just. What Do Parties Know? What Do They Ignore? Veil of ignorance The parties are not allowed to know: 1. the social positions or 2. the particular comprehensive doctrines of the persons they represent. They also do not know 3. these peoples race and ethnic group, sex, or various native endowments. [Question: Why do parties ignore their comprehensive doctrine? (Moral doctrines are not mere preferences or personal tastes.) But consider: Choice under pluralism] What the Parties know 1. Circumstances of justice - Objective circumstances - Subjective circumstances [Questions: Does this knowledge mean that the contract is, in effect, for mutual advantage? Why should we assume limited altruism? ]

2. Primary goods Parties need at least a thin theory of the good. Primary goods are social conditions and all purpose means which allow people [a] to develop their moral powers (1. sense of justice and 2. conception of the good), and [b] to form, pursue and revise their determinate conception of the good. Primary goods include: - Basic rights and liberties - Opportunities (for the pursuit of different ends); powers and prerogatives - Income and wealth (all purpose means to a wide range of ends) - Social bases of self respect [Questions: Why this particular list of goods? Is this list fair to all conceptions of the good? ] - Primary goods are used to dene who the least advantaged are. - The account of primary goods denes a division of labour, or division of responsibility: 1. citizens responsibility through the institutions of the basic structure to maintain equal liberties, and fair equality of opportunities, and for providing a fair share of the primary goods for all; 2. within this, individual responsibility to revise ends, etc. Reective Equilibrium A. We want our conception of justice to hang in the right way with our deeply held moral convictions, what Rawls calls our considered judgments (eg that religious intolerance is wrong; that slavery is wrong). B. If the conception we arrived at through the OP reasoning does not mesh with our considered judgments, we will have to modify the conditions in the original position (so that we can arrive at a conception of justice that ts all our considered judgments) or if necessary, revise some of these considered judgments if on the whole this is the best balance we can achieve. C. By going back and forth, sometimes altering the conditions of the contractual circumstances, at others withdrawing our judgments and conforming them to principle, I assume that eventually we shall nd a description of the initial situation that both expresses reasonable conditions and yields principles that match our considered judgments duly pruned and adjusted (s. 4; p. 1043). D. Rawls calls this the method of reective equilibrium; our conception of justice lies in an equilibrium with our considered judgments; and it is reective because these judgments now conform to our principles of justice.

--The conditions of choice: people are (i) mutually disinterested, (ii) rational, (iii) free and equal, (iv) tasked with deciding on a just set of fundamental social institutions (contrast the cake example). - Since noone knows what position they will occupy, asking people to decide what is best for themselves has the same consequence as asking what is best for everyone, considered impartially... In order to decide from behind a veil of ignorance which principles will promote my good, I must put myself in the shoes of every person in society and see what promotes their good, since I may end up being any one of those people. (Kymlicka 2002, p. 65) - They have access to all relevant information about the society. Also, they are intelligent and make no errors in reasoning. Those in the original position seek to advance their interests as best they can by their choice of principles. They are choosing principles to regulate a society they expect to inhabit, and they choose principles based on how they expect to fare in a society run by the principles chosen. Rawls assumes the parties in the original position choose rationally to advance their interests. Rawls stipulates that the parties are mutually disinterested. This means each assumes she has a set of aims she wants to fulll, and she takes no interest in the fulllment of other peoples interests per se.The parties know that whatever their interests are, they will benet from having primary social goods. Primary goods are ones it is rational for anyone to want, whatever else she wants. Well talk about this some more when we talk about the two principles. Need set of primary goods (PGs), i.e. all-purpose means. These include: - social primary goods, like income, opportunities, rights and liberties. -- natural primary goods, like health, creativity, talents.

The parties behind the veil of ignorance are presented with a menu, or list, of principles First comparison: The two principles of justice Rawls favours (equal liberties, fair equality of opportunities and the difference principle), and a principle of average utility. Second comparison: The two principles of justice Rawls favours, and the same principles, but the principle of average utility substitutes the difference principle. In this second comparison the principle of average utility is applied subject to the constraints of the prior principles: equal liberties and fair equality of opportunity. The Method of Reective Equilibrium - Respective adjustment of considered judgments about justice and principles of justice. (We work from both ends.) Principles should help reveal a coherence underlying considered judgements.

Justice as Fairness: The First Principle of Justice (FPJ) FPJ: Each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive total system of equal basic liberties compatible with a similar system of liberty for all. The FPJ purportedly protects things like conscience, movement, speech, due process, the integrity of the person, and other basic liberties typically guaranteed by the rule of law. The Second Principle of Justice (SPJ) SPJ: Social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that they are both (a) to the greatest benet of the least advantaged (the difference principle) (b) attached to ofces and positions open to all under conditions of fair equality of opportunity SPJ(a) is sometimes interpreted as maximin, i.e. as max|ui0|, where i0 is the least well-off group. Rawls argues that the FPJ has lexicographic priority over the SPJ, and SPJ(b) over SPJ(a).

Section 26: the reasoning leading to the two principles Given the set-up of the original position, Rawls argues that (1) the parties in the original position will choose according to the maximin decision rule and (2) maximinning, the parties will then choose the two principles of justice advanced by Rawls in chapter 2. Maximin. (maximum minimorum) The maximin decision rule says one should choose among alternative policies/acts by ignoring everything except the worst possible outcomes that might arise from any choice and selecting the policy with the best worst outcome. Maximin says one should ignore all other possible results and choose the option that yields the best payoff under this worst scenario.




1. Rational individuals behind VoI; asked to choose between justice as fairness (the 2 principles) and principle of utility. 2. No knowledge of probability; want to avoid clearly unacceptable outcomes (like -2). In this case, we will apply the maximin rule. 3. Maximin rule selects against the principle of average utility, in favor of Justice as Fairness. 4. Z in fact is the position favored by the difference principle. 5. Why is Y ruled out? Because it is irrational to go for Y over Z. One might opt for Y out of envy; but to allow envy to dictate our choices is not rational.