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  • Created on: 02-04-13 11:58

Competing Principles of justice

Justice is the principle that each receives their 'due'  so we are required to treat equals equally, and if what someone is due depends on one quantifiable attribute, we should treat differences proportionally

The concept of justice can be divided into two important strands; Justice in punishment & justice in the distribution of goods in society

Justice in the distribution of goods divides into 'political' justice, regarding the distribution of basic liberties and rights, and social, economic or distributive justice.

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Different interpretations of 'equality' are relevant to justice. Justice involves formal equality and the idea that morally speaking all people are equal

On the basis of moral equality we can argue for 'assumed' equality, justice requires a distribution of strict equality unless we can give good reasons why another distribution would be better

Inequalities need to be justified

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Strict Equality

Everyone receives equal amounts of goods, this could be exactly the same, food, house, means of transport and so on.

But this is not  a good interpretation of equality because people have different preference. if we allow people any form of freedom with their money equalities will quickly emerge even if we gave them same income

strict equality also over looks inequalities in what people need, disabilities
People also have different ambitions, some work hard, some are lazy

People would require equal opportunities,but what is an equal amount of opportunity

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Developing Egalitarianism

Some philosophers argue for 'equality of welfare' - to have a good happy life. how do we measure this ? higher and lower pleasures

People who have expensive tastes will require more money to achieve the same level of happiness as someone who has simpler tastes, Would justice really require that they get extra resources.

Alternatively, the, is 'equality of resourcess' where this includes opportunities as well as material goods. However once given people will use the differently creating inequalities but, justice as egalitarians see it is to eliminate any disadvantages people suffer that are no the results of their own choices

If two people have different capacities, then presenting them with equal recources will notensure equality because one will be able to do more with that resource than the other

we should argue for 'equal access to advantage'

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Objections to Egalitarianism

You can not distinguish between the results that come from inherited advantage and results from our own choices
for instance strength of will makes a great difference to a persons ambition and achievements, but is it itself inherit or related to choice?


another objection is that is restricts freedom and deserts

We Can object that everyone will be better off if we do not respect equality.
- higher salary for better work
- raises total amount of goods in society

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Marx defended a version of quality related to need
From each according to his ability, to each according to his need'
The idea that justices lies in meeting peoples needs reflects the ideals of community and solidarity. It is not strictly speaking, a principle of equality,, because what people need is not equal

Can we distinguish what someone needs and what they want, can argue that it's not a psychological state, if a child needs to take medicine doesn't depend on whether they want to take it and if they want more chocolate they may need to stop eating it.

A need is OBJECTIVE whilst desires are SUBJECTIVE. what someone needs depends on the facts about their health both physical and psychological. A need is what is necessary to achieve some level of human welfare of flourishing

But is there any objective theory of human welfare ? Human beings are social and cultural animals and what they need in order to flourish therefore depends on the society in which they live they live

1) What justice in society requires is that we meet ppeoples needs in that society so, justice is relative to society, orr
2) Needs secure some minimum level of welfare, which is universal . What else is needed to flourish relative to a particular society is not a matter of justice.

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Some human needs that relate to sex and friendship, we do not think that justice requires the state to meet these needs why not ?

There is a danger of 'needs inflation' long life, health, medical developments

Should justice be concerned with needs taken 'absolutley' or take into account comparisons between people within a society? If we include comparative measures, then as society becomes richer, peoples 'needs' increase. But if we avoid all comparison society could contain great inequalities without any justice.

what counts as need over time changes - internet

Needs do not respect equality and needs to not always provide for desert

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People should be treated according to their specific qualities and actions. Distributed goods are rewards people receive in response to how they choose to live

1) effort, justice requires that people are rewarded in proportion to the effort that they make in their work

2) Compensation not only effort but all the costs someone incurs through their work deserves reward

3) contribution, the value of the contribution that people make in terms of social productivity determines what they deserve to receive

4) Virtue, Aristotle arues that justice requires that the virtuous are rewarded,so a persons virtues determine what they deserve

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Working out desert

How can we identify what should count as effort or cost ? or how virtuous someone is ?

Some philosophers think that we can determine this through the 'free market' The market will reward someone in proportion to how valuable their contribution is

not true :(

The market distributes reward not according to value but according to how much and how many people desire what is offered footballer more socially valuable than a nurse?

Market values are affected by other factors such as scarcity Gold is more valuable than iron because it is rarer not because it is more useful. But no one deserves a greater reward for providing something just because it is scarce. 

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Justice doesn't always need to reward desert - winning a race

Our choices are also affected by factors outside our control, so not our desert

Just being a person deserves respecct, - medical treatment when ill

Desert cannot define justice because it presupposes it. You only deserve something if you deserve it in accordance with the rules, but the rules must also be just

Justice as fairnesss, if I get my desert what if others get more

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Distribution of goods

A just distribution requires state intervention. Each principle of justice so far requires that goods are redistributed in accordance with the principle of justice so far requires that goods are redistributed in accordance to justice i.e. that they are taken away from some though taxation and given to others. However justice is not the only political value. So a fulll justification of redistribution needs to consider justice in relation to other values such a liberty.

according to equal accsess to advanage we can argue that no one should face disadvantage that do not result from their own choices
Children not gain or loose because of their parent's choices or because of genetic illness

principle of need says justice requires each have enough so take away from those who have more than enough

Since the free market does not reward value, desert theory says we must redistribute to correct imbalance

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Society is a system of cooperation for mutual advantage between individuals

Conflict between different interests and identity of shared interest

Justice is the appropriate sharing of benefits and burdens of social cooperation

Justice is initimatly related to what society is for

So is based on principles a free and rational person would defend in an initial position of equality.

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The Goods to redistribute

-rights, liberties, powers, opportunities, income wealth and self respect

equal distribution unless unequal works to advantage all

Once basic level of material well being secured will value equal liberty over greater wealth but unequal liberty

Each to have most liberty compatible with same for all

Economic inequalities to benefit of disadvantaged, and attached to jobs open to all

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