An Examination of Rawl’s ‘Natural Lottery’

Topics: John Rawls, Sociology, Social class Pages: 3 (1164 words) Published: September 14, 2011
PHIL 2600 – Professional and Business Ethics

Essay #1: An Examination of Rawl’s ‘Natural Lottery’

In Rawls’ paper entitled Theories of Economic Justice; Rawls attempts to dissuade belief in the prevailing justification for the distribution of wealth in society. There is significant objection in his argument to the facet of the system that allows distribution of wealth to be determined by the natural distribution of talents, knowledge, and abilities between individuals. In this paper I intend to argue that although the these talents enact natural inequalities in society it does not make us any more or less entitled to the fruits of those talents. Society is made up of individuals who through no fault of their own have been classified amongst themselves. They are divided by social status, intelligence, and natural ability, all of which were given to them through birth. In a sense they are from birth subjected to a social lottery with clear winners and losers. By this I mean that certain individuals will naturally be born smarter, more talented and/or in a higher social class than others. Given the fact that individuals do nothing to deserve their own genetics or social status, we can say that they have done nothing to warrant reaping the advantages or suffering the disadvantages of which they employ. As Rawls says, “No one deserves his greater natural capacity nor merits a more favourable starting place in society.” (Rawls, p. 58) Rawls goes on to suggest why there should be an equal distribution of arbitrary benefits. Rawls’ difference principle says that “social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that they are both (a) reasonably expected to be to everyone’s advantage, and (b) attached to positions and offices open to all.” (Rawls, p. 56) He includes this natural lottery in his definition of social and economic inequalities. Thus the advantages provided by nature should be reorganized so as to be shared by everyone. This will occur because he...

References: Rawls, J. (2001). Justice as Fairness. In Hoffman, Frederick and Schwartz (Ed). Business Ethics: Readings and Cases in Corporate Morality (pg 53-59). New York: McGraw-Hill Higher Education
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