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Theories of Justice Name Institution Lecturer Course
Theories of Justice Theories of Justice. John Rawls defines justice in his A Theory of Justice, as the first virtue of social institutions. A social institution is a human institution, as Aristotle said clearly that we are social
because we are human. These institutions are rated as good or bad, just or unjust, on the basis of their distribution of benefits and burdens in an appropriate manner in the society to the individuals. Each and every member has to get what is due to him or her, if the society can be said to be fair. The demands of justice are therefore the primary role of the theory of justice as a scholastic field. Different views have been expressed about the concept justice. Justice may be said to be existent in a harmonious society as argued by Plato in his Republic. Plato argues that for a just society, both the person and the society have to coexist harmoniously. To him, justice is doing what is your own. A just society is one that is led by a philosopher king, the technocrat. It is only a learned person in the relevant field who knows what is good for the society. This, Plato gives an example of a doctor, when he pauses a challenge that, whom do people prefer when they fall sick: a popular doctor, or a qualified professional one. The society, according to him, is divided into three categories of people. The leadership, the military, and the servants. For a just society, each group must take up their right positions. The justice as a divine command theorists argue on the understanding of justice by rationalizing on its essence. In the euthphro dilemma, the question that is paused is: did God command something to be right, or he commanded something because it is right? Relative to the subjective interpretation, if the rightness is due to the mere fact that God commanded it, then God reigns supreme and justice is an arbitrary concept. If not, then God is reduced in terms of his
Theories of Justice essence, and thus morality exists on a higher order than God. He thus becomes like a human being, a passer on of knowledge and morality. The conception of justice as natural law contends that justice is a universal and absolute
concept. What is talked of as morals and all the institutions that propagate and enforces morality, are merely aimed at codifying in a systematic manner the concept of justice. They have no bearing on the fundamentals of justice and may even distort the real meaning of the concept. The caliber of John Locke draws a comparison between the application of justice and the nature of natural laws. They contend that for any action, there is an opposite but equal reaction, to maintain a state of equilibrium. The same conception applies in the society, that whatever action one does, there has to be either a reward or a punishment, appropriately. Some section of theorists understands justice to have no innate bearing on human beings. They believe that justice is just but a creation of the creative human mind, for the sake of improving cohesion in society, and that people are indoctrinated at their tender age to believe that there is anything fundamental, divine, or natural about it. In the state of nature, for instance, there was no practice of justice. The concept has then been taken as a convention, just a noble lie for the sake of a strong society. Authoritarians like Thomas Hobbes believe that justice is whatever the law says is right, and the opposite is injustice, whatever the situation or the circumstance. Authoritarians believe that justice is all but the command of the sovereign. In such a case, some moral provisions may cross the wrong paths with justice. Once the social contract is brought into place, the sovereign acquires absolute authority, and his word qualifies as law. A just society is therefore one that observes the rules of law, and holds is stoic obedient to the sovereign.
Theories of Justice
Justice is fairness, or close to that as they are sometimes interchangeably used. However, there are some small differences. Fairness deals mostly with the consideration of issues and situations in a manner consistent with impartiality, while justice deals with abiding by the laid down rules of procedure. In this sense, it is concerned with fair consideration of people, treating them with kindness, and without any iota of biasness. In the legal sense, the concept means the upholding and respect for the rule of law. Aristotle conceives justice as a virtue. It is imperative that it occurs within a state, as the state is the primary element on the development of just actions, as well as unjust actions. To be just is to abide by the laws of the state, and doing otherwise is being unjust. Justice also goes with fairness. An unfair person is therefore unjust, according to Aristotle. He believed that laws have a prime purpose of bringing happiness to all. Justice is a political and social concept that may be given a definition by the person with whom it is referred to. In the legal perspective, justice is the observance of the rule of law. The question of whether all law is just is again a controversial issue. This is because laws are made by a section of society, and may be framed to suit the selfish wishes of that society. The theories of state attempt at an explanation of how the state came into being, from pre-state era to the state formation. Before the society was discovered, Thomas Hobbes theorizes that there was a state of nature, in which life was solitary and brute. Man lived a short, poor and nasty life. It was a state where man was his own greatest enemy and that there was no order. Life was so unbearable, and so it was necessary to bring an end to this state of nature. According to Hobbes, it was not possible to continue without a strong government. It would be this government that would regulate the behavior of people setting standards of
Theories of Justice behavior and punishing defaulters. This is the only way to save mankind from the conflict of a war of all against all. To achieve this, it was imperative to come up with a social contract where people would give authority to a third party, the state, which will be responsible for providing order in society. The hobbessian model came up with a very powerful animal, the leviathan. It was dictatorial in nature, and was not responsible to the people. However, in cases where there could be gross violations of people’s rights, a rebellion could be expected. He did not make any considerations on the separation of powers that is a cardinal provision of a democratic establishment in the current state. It was the custodian of sovereignty, and was the sovereignty itself. All individuals were expected to volunteer all natural rights, for the sake of their protection. Utilitarianism is known to be an ethical principal advocated for the usefulness of any action being measured by the actual consequences. The act should cause more happiness to the greatest number as an end. The consequences count more than the means. For utilitarians, the means justifies the end. A just society is therefore one whose laws and practices are meant to result to the aggregate happiness of the members in that society. It is not easy to satisfy all human tastes. The world is so diverse, with people of diverse interests. This theory seems to more populist by advocating for the wishes of the majority being considered at the expense of the minority. But there is a caution here: the majorities are not always right, and sometimes they go by mob psychology! It is also important to note that measuring the utility of an action is not as easy as the theory puts it. Human beings are not machines that an engineer would tell when it will do what.
The theory therefore fails on this aspect on predictability. For a happy life, human beings must be able to access the basic needs, which are universal.
Theories of Justice Libertarianism stresses on individual liberty. A just society should therefore be able to accord each member of society an opportunity to pursue his ends. It is also an aspect of democracy but at an individual level. One has to be left to act as he pleases provided there is no violation of someone else’s right in the process of another one exercising his rights and freedoms. Rights libertarians argue that the discretion to use one’s body property is fully bestowed on the individual in question. It is a violation of the central principle to use force against others. This does not however include a desire for self defense. To them, use of force for
reasons other than self defense is aimed at ameliorating the real or perceived threat likely from a competitor. Some theorists here are advocating for the abolition of state for human beings to enjoy their freedoms to the maximum. Others yet argue that the state should exist to safeguard individual rights of citizens. The function of the state therefore becomes to protect the interests of its individual members; to pursue what they think is good for them. This is a just society. John Hospers argues that every one owns his life, and so should be in control of the life. Human beings are there a right to act the way they wish, so long as their actions don’t infringe on equal liberties of other individuals in society. The theory stresses the need of a minimum government, which the government should not interfere with the lives of the people. Another group of libertarians, the consequentialists, do not conceptualize the initiation of force as immoral. They hold that political as well as economic liberty should be absolute. If the use of force is to the advantage of a political or economic, then force may be applied Libertarians believe that the right to life is a mediocrity in a situation where property ownership is restricted. Hospers argues that the deprivation of people is like depriving someone the means by which he lives. Property rights are what help in long-range planning. In such a
Theories of Justice case, people should be allowed to own as much property as they can, provided the property is fairly earned. One can as well own all the means of production, if he can, by use of just means. The argument is that there is no morale to plan ahead if at the end of the day the hard earned property is taken away. The need of individuals to acquire and own property is at the heart of justice in society. However, fraud is a manifestation of injustice ion society. The libertarians have given the possible ways of acquiring wealth. The first is through acquisition through transfer from the owner to whoever wants to acquire it. The initial owner in this case must be the legitimate owner. The exchange should be out of an informed consent, without any form of fraud or coercion.
The second way of acquiring is when one gains ownership of a property which is hitherto not owned. By this it means, mixing one’s labor with the thing, or property being acquired. Justice as fairness is a theory brought about by John Rawls. It is disturbing that the theory of utilitarianism has neglected the minority, and so they end up on the receiving in society. Undue burdens are bestowed upon them in an unfair manner, thus a justification of coming up with a theory of justice, practiced fairly. The society should be organized in a manner consistent with according people equal rights. Every individual should have civil liberties to the maximum, but compatible with the maximum liberty all the others access. In such a scenario then one should responsibly enjoy his rights. The theory does not rule out inequality completely. If the inequality works for the benefit of all, and especially the least well off in society, then it is allowed. It may also be allowed if the institutions to which the inequality attaches are fairly occupied in terms of opportunity.
Theories of Justice The theory of communitarianism began in the late 20th century, as an opposition to opinions of extreme individualism advocated by the anarchists- the libertarians. They instead advocate for a system whereby individuals work together in communities. In other words, they are in favor of civil society movements. The theory argues that the society should consider both individual and community rights. They support the principles of both social democracy and liberalism for trust to be maintained in society. The public is the host to values and beliefs in society, and an individual. For any issue to be taken over by an individual, so the communitarians believe, the issue must have originated from the society. Every public debate originates from the public then individuals take their positions on the same issues. The society id the source of morals, and for a society to be said to be just, it must serve the interests of the individuals as a system, not as individuals. Another theory of justice hinges on feminism, a standpoint that a just society is that
society that promotes gender balance by paying special attention to matters relating to women, in all aspects of societal life. The proponents argue that there must be complete restructuring of society empowering women in the political, social and economic competition. This theory therefore comes in to address the inequality issue and find plausible solutions. Since many societies are patriarchal, feminism comes up with a fascinating defense for equal opportunities in society. The rights feminists are campaigning for range a great deal, in trying to defeat the status quo. They demand to be left alone to decide on their reproductive rights of abortion and access to contraception. Other rights include right to own property, legal rights in the civic arena, and a right to fair play in the office. Feminist thought and activity can be divided into two waves, for the sake of historical understanding. It began with campaigns aimed at gaining equal rights with men, in the period
Theories of Justice 1800 to 1930s. The second phase started in 1960s and has developed a range of different approaches to fight their courser from whichever front. It is a fact the that women folk have been prejudiced and disenfranchised for quite some
time, yet experience has shown that most women are capable of carrying out functions that were initially dominated by men. In the contemporary for instance, there are several women who have performed with distinction in the world. They include ladies like Dr. Condoleezza Rice, the Secretary of State in the Bush Administration, Prof. Wangari Maathai of the Green Belt Movement and winner of Nobel Peace Price for her outstanding efforts in the conservation of the environment, President Allen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, Madam Asha Rose Migiro, a Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, among other international, national and village women who have performed to commendable levels.
Theories of Justice References Avineri, S., and de-Shalit, A., (eds), 1992, Communitarianism and Individualism, Oxford: Clarendon Press Doppelt, G, 1989, ‘Is Rawls Kantian Liberalism Coherent and Defensible?’ Ethics (July 1989), pp.820-21 Hospers, John. "The Libertarian Manifesto," reprinted in Justice: Alternative Political Perspectives, edited by James P. Sterba, Third Edition (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1999) Kymlicka, Will. Contemporary Political Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990. Rawls, John. A Theory of Justice (revised edition). Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999. William H. Shaw, Business Ethics, Third Edition (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1999) Young, I. M. Justice and the Politics of Difference, Princeton: Princeton University Press1990
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