What Is Distributive Justice?

Topics: John Rawls, Political philosophy, Justice Pages: 14 (5287 words) Published: February 1, 2011
What is Distributive Justice?

Distributive justice is generally referred to as fairness regarding the pattern of distribution among individuals. In order for distributive justice to be met, it is necessary for goods to be distributed fairly or justly. Goods are anything that holds value to any person(s); if something does not have any value then it is not a good. Value is the main requirement for something to be considered a good; therefore, not only physical goods hold value. Thus, such things as labor and medical insurance can be considered a good (Galvin and Lockhart 1182). There are also different principles of distributive justice as interpreted by the different support groups. The first of these principles is the one of strict egalitarianism in which it is believed every person should have the same level of material goods and services. The second of the principles is that of the difference principle stating each person has equal basic rights and liberties, but social and economic inequalities are there for ranking of different positions. The third principle is the resource-based principle that prescribes equality of resources determined by the free use of people’s resources. The next principle is welfare-based principle is used to maximize welfare. Following that principle is the desert-base principle which states people deserve certain economic benefits. The sixth principle is the libertarian principle; there is no followed pattern because the exchanges they as theirself are just are what is set forth. The next set of principles is the feminist principles that offer very distinct versions of every theory. The last of the principles is the methodology and empirical beliefs about distributive justice most notably stated by John Rawls. He brought the method of wide reflective equilibrium to philosophy (“Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy”).

The international doctrine of human rights says, “Everyone has a right to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing, and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions” (Beitz 321). This perception poses a problem, because you have to distribute goods fairly in order to satisfy the international doctrine of human rights. Some philosophers choose to go even farther than the international doctrine states, and believe that not only should everyone have the above rights, but everyone should in fact receive equal amounts of goods. On the contrary, some may reject the international doctrine and believe that people are not entitled to certain goods. Another idea to take into consideration is how these goods are produced. People can create goods, yet not all people create goods at an equal rate. If some people are able to create more goods, would that necessarily entitle them to more goods? When it comes to answering this question, disagreements arise from different philosophers. Five different opinions of philosophers’ views and ideas of the definition of distributive justice will be given along with the flaws of any distributive justice system. There are arguments that support both claims in regard to this matter. A system of distributive justice without any flaws existent in it ceases to exist.

In Plato’s Republic Socrates argued that people will work together to achieve the best outcome for both the general welfare and the individual self at the same time. One person must concentrate on one type of labor in order to achieve the most productive system. If all members of a society become proficient at one type of labor, this system would ensure that the greatest possible amount of products will be produced in that particular society (Saxonhouse 273). If everyone was skilled in only one trade then there would not be differentiation of trades and only a limited variety of products in that particular region. In this society, the need for protection and maintenance of society is necessary, thus Plato develops a...

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