John Rawls Social Justice Analysis

John Rawls in his “A Theory of Justice” tries to identify an alternative viable theory of social justice to other predominant doctrines, which have dominated our philosophical tradition. While the author acknowledges that most citizens and institutions recognise the principle of social justice, he also underlines that their conceptions on the distribution of basic rights and duties are influenced by their interests and hence, are not always to the advantage of all citizens. In fact, Rawls argues that the prevailing Utilitarian and Intuitive theories work on the principle of maximum benefits for the greatest amount of people, or, the assumption that human beings born into different positions have different expectations of life. These two …show more content…
This model requires that citizens and responsible institutions share the same principles of justice, free of self-interest. Moreover, it is imperative that Institutions guarantee these liberties and that they be considered to be doing so, by citizens. This condition requires the formation of a new social contract, with an alternative definition of social justice, based on the moral and fair principles of what free, rational people of equal social standing would agree to, for social cooperation. However, it is difficult to enter into such negotiations between peers, who have either been spared and are therefore blind to the injustices suffered by others or who, on the other hand, have been treated unfairly and are envious of their wealthier colleagues. In order to establish this objective, otherwise known as “fair equal opportunity”, John Rawls requires that we enter into a hypothetical scenario, forgetting our position in society and all current knowledge of economic and political matters. Rawls is explicitly clear and reiterates that “among the essential features of this situation is that no one knows his place in society, his class position… nor …show more content…
In this scenario, institutions that are supposed to promote without discrimination, a social contract that supports social cooperation based on equal assignments of right, duties and liberties are choosing to promote a philosophy that above all, works to the benefit of the majority. In doing so, they are making a conscious choice to increase the advantages for wealthier citizens which impact negatively on the opportunities, choices and rights of citizens living in hardship. These hardships ultimately result in a lack of liberty, which should be the fundamental right of every citizen and responsibility of any institution. Hence, even if the Utilitarian theory is conceived as generally bringing greater wellbeing , it is not a fair system. It is from this lack of fairness and its consequences on lack of opportunities and rights that Rawls seeks to identify an alternative theory, one that acknowledges the principle of difference, and ensures a fair distribution of rights and duties that would compensate the weakest members of society from hardships beyond their control and therefore bring them to an equal status with other

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