Justice In John Rawls: A Theory Of Justice

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John Rawls’s most prominent work ‘A Theory of Justice’ has been occupying a pivotal position within political philosophy for over thirty years. Rawls aims to introduce a notion of justice that assumes the presence of a hypothetical social contract as the main factor for determining justice. In doing so, he makes use of the so-called original position which implies a hypothetical scenario in which people are put behind a veil of ignorance which denies them any awareness of their physical attributes as well as their socioeconomic circumstances (eg. one’s gender, religion etc.). People participating in this hypothetical scenario must consequently decide about the social justice of a society, as if they were to inhabit the given society afterwards.…show more content…
It should serve as a foundation for public justification among people who have differing notions of the good. The roots to this way of thinking lay in the concept of fairness. Rawls identifies justice with fairness however he does not imply that the notions of justice and fairness are the same. He assumes that the decisions made under the veil of ignorance are supposedly equal in every aspect ergo they are to result in fair and therefore just conclusions. The extent of fairness in this method is however, rather questionable and the same can be said for Rawls’s overall understanding of fairness, especially when looking at practicalities, because Rawls’s theory is highly idealistic and his methodology allegedly universal. In this essay I will therefore take a political realist approach and critically assess the question whether Rawls’s connection between justice and fairness is applicable in practice and whether making this connection can be justified. I will argue that justice is a practical concept for which it is important that current societal factors are considered and in doing so I will first look at the practical aspects in applying Rawls’s theory and conclude that his association of justice cannot be justified when looking at the concept of fairness applied in a practical…show more content…
These condition could intrinsically be seen as rather unfair because the depicted person has to endow in a drastically life changing contract, deprived from any knowledge regarding his actual aspirations. He would have to make a permanent decision, which greatly changes the essentials of his life, without being aware of the person he actually is. How could one possibly regard this conduct as fair? Rawls’ defence might possibly be an attempt to legitimize this conduct by again putting emphasis on the fundamental equality of circumstances constructing the original contract. Although this person would have to make a decision without being aware of his identity, this would apply to all. However, it seems that Rawls neglects the present pragmatic state of affairs. The concepts of fairness and equality in Rawls’ methodology would definitely be hard to refute, when being applied in an existent and factual original position. In this case we would have the scenario of never having inhabited a society before and we would be able to from something out of a clean slate, in which no one could possibly be disadvantaged. Rawls’ hypothetical scenario, however, is not factual, nor does it pose meaningful applicability to our present situation. If we would apply the original contract to present day society, this would consequently unavoidably and unfairly derive people from things they
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