Rawl's Theory of Justice

Topics: John Rawls, Sociology, A Theory of Justice Pages: 8 (3044 words) Published: February 17, 2013
The Theory of Justice: Rawls

Justice as Fairness: Introduction
In a Theory of Justice, John Rawls argues that justice is to be understood in terms of fairness. A just society will be a society which is based upon principles. The principles are the best formulation of a social system which is not based upon personal interests or specific moral belief. These two principles are to serve as a framework for the construction and reformation of institutions. Rawls argues that the two principles of justice are sufficient for a just society. A just society is one institution which protects individual rights and liberties of all citizens and has a pattern of distribution of resources. By examining Rawls theory of justice it will be possible to show that Rawls is giving two theories of justice as fairness. Justice is an attribute of a society and not individuals. In first part it will deals with three main things first is to discuss Rawls theory of justice as fairness, formal justice which is based upon the discussion of the “original position” which serves as foundation for the theory as a whole. The essential components of the theory of formal justice will be used to show how Rawls theory of justice of fairness is based upon a strong notion of equality. In second part this will discuss Rawls theory of institution. Rawls theory of institution shows how the principles of justice from the structure are supposed to work in real life situation. Rawls is aware that in real life situation, people are not equal. Rawls theory of institution will show how Rawls addresses the issue of social inequalities.

Formal Justice
In a theory of justice, John Rawls gives a theory where justice is to be considered in terms of fairness. The first part of the work is based upon Rawls notions of formal justice. Formal justice is a formulation of principles of justice which is meant to serve as a foundation for Rawls latter claims. According to Rawls, formal justice can be found in a social contract which Rawls calls “the original position” Rawls structures the original position in order to show how justice will be understood in terms of fairness. In formal justice, all hypothetical individuals will be more or less equal due to restrictions Rawls places upon people in the original position. Rawls theory of Justice as fairness is based upon a social contract theory. According to Rawls, a social contract is useful for discussing justice because a social contract lends itself to the formulation of principles of justice. Rawls argues that principles of justice will be agreed upon in a social contract which Rawls calls “the original position”. The original position is the situation where people will agree upon principles of justice. There are two provisions which Rawls argues must be obtained for people in the original position to decide upon principles of justice as fairness. The first of these is that each person must be rationally capable of making decisions concerning what constitutes what is just and unjust. The second is that these rational people will be able to agree in advance on how society is to be structured. The reason Rawls gives these two criteria is that if a theory of justice as fairness is to work, it must be based upon principles which will be agreed upon by rational person. If justice is understood in terms of principles, the people within society must make the agreement as autonomous being. In the case of original position, a great emphasis will be placed upon equality. In original position, equality and fairness will appear according to the formulation of the principles. According to Rawls, the term “justice as fairness” comes from examining the agreement made by individuals in the original position. Principles of justice are based upon agreement made in the original position. The structure of the original position guarantees that decisions will be made so that the structure of a just society will be fair. Rawls says by choosing...
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