Rawls' Maximin Principle

Topics: A Theory of Justice, John Rawls, Original position Pages: 4 (1478 words) Published: November 15, 2005
Rawls' Maximin Principle: Is It Really The Most Rational Solution?

Political philosophy aims to reflect the normative and conceptual dimensions of political life. American philosopher John Rawls is widely recognized as one of the leading political philosophers of the twentieth century. His A Theory of Justice (1971) is one of the primary texts in political philosophy and proposes two principles of justice. The first, the liberty principle, defines basic liberties and the second, the difference principle, regulates disparity within rights, powers, and privileges through what is known as a maximin strategy . The difference principle and underlying maximin strategy, as any theory, has several credible components as well as some that cause for criticism.

Rawls argues that the most reasonable principles of justice are those everyone would accept and agree to from a fair position. These principles determine a society's basic structure; political constitution, economy, and property rules. Rawls takes a fair agreement situation to be one where everyone is impartially situated as equals. In this so-called "original position" everyone is equally situated by a hypothetical "veil of ignorance". This veil requires individuals to set aside their knowledge of their particular differences, including knowledge of their talents, wealth, social position, and religious views. People in the original position are rational; they desire a set of primary goods and they know and understand general laws and principles that govern a society . Rawls asserts that in the hypothetical original position everyone would unanimously accept justice as fairness. This conception of justice consists mainly of two principles, the second of which is most imperative and will be discussed in great detail.

Rawls's second principle of justice, the difference principle, defines the limits of inequalities in wealth, income, powers, and positions that may exist in a just society. It...
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