Justice Is Under Threat in the Risk Society’, Is Barbara Hudson Right to Argue This?

Topics: Risk, John Rawls, Punishment Pages: 7 (2724 words) Published: April 21, 2013
‘Justice is under threat in the risk society’, is Barbara Hudson right to argue this? In the UK the state advised what it expects of us and in response to this gives us laws that we are not legitimate to disobey. We currently live in a de facto and de jure state where no one else can take part in violence apart from the state when needed, and the laws are seen as just. From the seventeenth century to the late twentieth century there has been a change in society creating a modernist era which saw the ending of feudalism and the devotement of capitalism. (Hudson, 2003:3) This period saw changes in the way individuals lived their lives and viewed the world; there were political changes and systems of punishment. The changes stirred ‘political, moral and legal philosophy – the fields at whose intersection we find justice.’(Hudson, 2003:3) This essay will highlight the reasons why Barbara Hudson is right to argue that justice is under threat in the risk society. It will first outline Kant’s and Rawls’s theory of justice and it will then look at what risk society is. Finally it will compare if justice and the risk society are compatible using DSPD as a case study. Immanuel Kant was an enlightenment philosopher in utilitarian liberalism. He had many theories what justice is and what this means and theories on how this affected punishment. He used the devolvement of enlightenment to search for the measure of justice, whereby humans are seen as rational and capable of analysis and decision making. (Hudson, 2003:5) Previously issues for justice for liberal democracies had been about the distribution of material and social goods. (Hudson, 2003:6) However, for Kant his theory of justice revolved around the idea of individual freedom and equal freedom for all. He believes as we are all rational and capable of making are own decisions that we can all abide by the moral law. Kant’s moral philosophy is based on what he calls the categorical imperative, where he says ‘Always act in such a way that you can also will that the maxim of your action should become a universal law’ (Kant, 1987:2) Meaning that you should treat people as you would want to be treated, and not to an end to a means, if we do not treat people as equal then there is no justice. Rawls was a contemporary liberalist who was a student of Kant’s who looked to an alternative to utilitarianism in his theory of justice. (Kymlicka, 2002:53) His approach was intuitionism theory which he said had two features, that they consist of plurality of first principles and that they include no explicit methods and we are simply to strike a balance by intuition to what seems right. (Kymlicka, 2002:54) Rawls had two principles of justice; the first was that ‘each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive scheme of equal basic liberties compatible with a similar scheme of liberties for others.’(Kymlicka, 2002:56) He states when making decisions we should mentally put ourselves behind a veil of ignorance for all members of society to agree, as this would lead everyone in society to be treated more fairly as they would not know where in society they would be placed therefore limiting their risk. This way you could distribute goods completely fair without discriminating against anyone and by doing so you would end up with a system in which you would make sure the worst off are as well of as possible as we would not know which group we were going to be in; the rich or the poor group of society. (Baggini, 2005:29) Rawl’s second principle of justice are that social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that , they are to be the greatest benefit to the least advantaged members of the society and offices and positions must be open to everyone under conditions of fair equality of opportunity. Therefore since there will be always discrepancies, members of society would agree to take part as again they would not know which group of society they fall into and by removing all...

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