John Rawls 'Justice As Fairness'

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John Rawls’ theory of ‘Justice as Fairness’ is a theory that conceives of a society in which all citizens cooperate with one another, live freely and have access to the same basic rights. Rawls’s aim is to illustrate how this ideal can be achieved through the use of a social contract – this approach attempts to reach a consensus about the principles of justice amongst all members of a society (Weinar, 2012:1). Rawls thus seeks a conception of Justice to which all citizens can agree freely and on equal terms.
Within free societies, individuals live by various different views and values, for example religious views, conceptions of what is wrong and what is right. These views can generally not be reconciled – however, Rawls argues that human beings
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Rawls first addresses the problem of legitimacy questioning how free and equal citizens with irreconcilable conceptions of what is good would be able to justify the distribution of benefits and burdens to one another. In order to solve this problem, Rawls relies on free agreement amongst citizens, thus a conception of justice that all members of a society can agree to on equal terms (Weinar, 2012:4). Secondly, in order to ensure a stable society, the conception of justice must rest on an overlapping consensus amongst citizens – thus individuals will support the same basic law of society for contrasting reasons which are directly related to each one’s own moral beliefs. The achievement of stability in a society, according to Rawls, is directly related to how close a society is to achieving ‘reflective equilibrium’ – in ‘reflective equilibrium’ all individual beliefs held members in a society cohere perfectly with one another, for example my political judgements would support my general political convictions which would in turn support my abstract beliefs about myself and my world. – although this is unattainable, it can be used as a method for justifying our beliefs (Weinar,…show more content…
Under this ‘Veil of Ignorance’, all parties are initially placed in the same position – they are all unaware of their race, class, ethnicity, gender, age, natural abilities or moral views. In addition, all parties are also ignorant of the current political system of their society – this allows them to decide on principles of justice that would benefit all citizens equally, irrespective of who each individual is, ensuring that parties make a reasonable, fair and rational agreement (Weinar,
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