Justice and Fairness

Topics: John Rawls, Justice, A Theory of Justice Pages: 8 (2551 words) Published: May 3, 2013

What is justice? This may seem like a simple question to answer but for many in today’s society it is not. Individuals throughout society have their own distinctive explanation of justice. It is a word in which, to every person, has a different meaning. Although "Justice" has a vast list of meanings, it can somewhat be defined. Loosely, it can be defined as “the principal of fairness and the ideal of moral equity.”

In our world today they are many ways we have seen how justice work into our society, we as a society live by rules but we rules are in some ways meant to be broken. It is seen through many eyes around the world, many of the ways justice is portrayed in different ways because laws are different around the world. I have seen how justice is severed to those who decide to break the law and seen the worst when justice is not served fairly. Justice comes with its own rules it can uphold a fair sentence or see the nasty side of how people can portray the justice system. Many can see justice a virtue that can be used to protect them from the ambiguity of criminal works.

Justice in society enforces individual's rights and to deny that the loss of freedom for some is made right by a greater good shared by others".   When the notion of justice becomes shared by all citizens, and equality is achieved, civility between members of society will restrict the use of some individuals as means to personal ends. Overall, Rawls argues that the most distinctive role of justice in society is to equally distribute rights and duties to individuals.


A Theory of Justice is a book of political philosophy and ethics by John Rawls. It was originally published in 1971 and revised in both 1975 (for the translated editions) and 1999. In A Theory of Justice, Rawls attempts to solve the problem of distributive justice by utilizing a variant of the familiar device of the social contract.

The resultant theory is known as "Justice as Fairness", from which Rawls derives his three principles of justice:

PRINCIPLE OF EQUAL LIBERTY the claim that each citizen’s liberties must be protected from invasion by others must be equal to those of others.

DIFFERENCE PRINCIPLE claim that a productive society will incorporate inequalities, but takes steps to improve the position of the neediest members of the society.

PRINCIPLE OF FAIR EQUALITY OF OPPURTUNITY the claim that everyone should give an equal opportunity to qualify for the more privileged positions in society’s institutions.

*The principle of Distributive Justice that Rawls proposes can be paraphrased by saying that the distribution of benefits and burdens in a society is just if and only if:

1. Each person has an equal right to the most extensive basic liberties compatible with the similar liberties for all, and (principle of equal liberty)

2. Social and economic inequalities are arranged so that they are both: a. to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged persons, and (difference principle) b. attached to offices and position open to all under conditions of fair equality of opportunity ( principle of fair equality of opportunity)

Rawls also proposes a general method for evaluating in a fair way the adequacy of any moral principle, it consists of:

determining what principles a group of rational self- interested persons would choose to live by if they knew they would live in a society governed by those principles but they did not yet know what each of them would turn out to be like in that society. This is:

ORIGINAL POSITION an imaginary meeting of rational self- interested persons who must choose the principle of justice by which their society will be governed

VEIL OF IGNORANCE the requirement that a persons in the original position must not know particulars about themselves which might bias their choices such as their sex, race, religion, income, social status, etc.

They will morally...
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