theories of justice


War is bad, and we should try to minimize the need for it, although Kant is not a pacifist and can justify it for purposes of self-defense. Like other animals, we are always fundamentally motivated by a survival instinct and ultimately driven by self-interest in all of our voluntary actions; this is psychological egoism. Augustine’s most important treatment of the just war theory is contained in his writing Against Faustus the Manichean, where he analyzes the evils of war in terms of the desire to harm others, the lust for revenge and cruelty, and the wish to dominate other people. It is a powerful tool to regulate macroeconomic variables such as inflation and unemployment. Rawls burst into prominence in 1958 with the publication of his game-changing paper, “Justice as Fairness.”  Though it was not his first important publication, it revived the social contract theory that had been languishing in the wake of Hume’s critique and its denigration by utilitarians and pragmatists, though it was a Kantian version of it that Rawls advocated. Second, anyone who acquires any holding by means of a just transfer of property is rightly entitled to keep and use it. He believes in the utility/justice of self-defense and sees the right to punish as anchored in that. 88-89, Citizen, pp. Secondly, Polemarchus, the son of Cephalus, jumps into the discussion, espousing the familiar, traditional view that justice is all about giving people what is their due. It is valuable as a means to the end of social cooperation, which is mutually “advantageous.”   An especially beneficial, if unnatural, convention is respecting others’ property, which is what the rules of justice essentially require of us. In the Beatitudes beginning the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus expands on this gospel of love by advocating that his followers go beyond the duties of justice to behave with compassion in certain supererogatory ways (Matthew 5:3-12). As far back in ancient Greek literature as Homer, the concept of dikaion, used to describe a just person, was important. Book V of his great Nicomachean Ethics deals in considerable depth with the moral and political virtue of justice. But, next, even the strongest leaders are sometimes mistaken about what is to their own advantage, raising the question of whether people ought to do what leaders suppose is to their own advantage or only what actually is so. The Preamble to the American Constitution says that one of its primary goals is to “establish justice.”  Founding father James Madison, in 1788, wrote in The Federalist Papers that justice should be the goal of all government and of all civil society, that people are willing to risk even liberty in its pursuit. Moving from one of the greatest philosophers of the Enlightenment to the other, we shall see that Kant will take more seriously the “is-ought” challenge than Hume himself did. Nevertheless, one cannot help hoping that a more cogent theory might yet be developed. The second law of nature maintains that, in order to achieve peace with others, we must be willing to give up our right to harm them, so long as they agree to reciprocate by renouncing their right to harm us. In Utilitarianism, his own great essay in ethical theory, Mill gives his own statement of the principle of utility (again employing a curiously religious word):  “The creed which accepts as the foundation of morals, Utility, or the Greatest Happiness Principle, holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness.”  He immediately proceeds to interpret human happiness and unhappiness (as Bentham had done) in hedonistic terms of pleasure and pain (Utilitarianism, pp. For Hume, we ought to pursue virtue (including justice) because it (allegedly) is agreeable and/or useful to do so. Boylan follows Kant and Rawls in holding an ultimate moral imperative is that individual human agents and their rights must be respected. It takes more effort for Socrates to destroy this conventional theory, but he proceeds in stages:  (1) we are all fallible regarding who are true friends, as opposed to true enemies, so that appearance versus reality makes it difficult to say how we should treat people; (2) it seems at least as significant whether people are good or bad as whether they are our friends or our foes; and (3) it is not at all clear that justice should excuse, let alone require, our deliberately harming anyone (Republic, pp. See, especially, “The Structure of Hume’s Political Theory,” by Knud Haakonssen. Here he works out how a just political conception might develop a workable “overlapping consensus” despite the challenges to social union posed by a pluralism of “reasonable comprehensive doctrines.”  This, of course, calls for some explanation. [“social contract”] The agreed-upon principles must not be dependent on one’s place in … So what did these three great philosophers (literally “lovers of wisdom”) find so ideologically objectionable about the Sophists? This is set up by means of an analogy comparing justice, on the large scale, as it applies to society, and on a smaller scale, as it applies to an individual soul. 861-862, 866, 868-869, 1031). 376-383). Sandel, as a communitarian, argues (against Rawls and Nozick) that the well-being of a community takes precedence over individual liberty and (against Nielsen) over the socio-economic welfare of its members. Rawls adds a very controversial “supreme emergency exemption” in relation to the third rule—when a relatively just society’s very survival is in desperate peril, its attacking enemy civilian populations, as by bombing cities, can be justifiable. A human being is allegedly so transformed by the move from the state of nature to that of civil society as to become capable of such genuine freedom as will allow each citizen to consent to all the laws out of deference to the common good. He decisively renounces any appeal to abstract rights as a basis for this principle, basing it simply on “utility in the largest sense, grounded on the permanent interests of a man as a progressive being.”  Notice that this presupposes that we can distinguish between other-regarding behavior, which may be justifiably regulated, and purely self-regarding behavior, which may not be. Just as the first principle must be lexically prior to the second, Rawls also maintains that “fair opportunity is prior to the difference principle.”  Thus, if we have to choose between equal opportunity for all and socio-economically benefiting “the least advantaged” members of society, the former has priority over the latter. Thus, for Sandel, Rawls’s myopic theory of human nature gives him no basis for any pre-political natural rights. Having established the parallel between the three classes of the state and the three parts of the soul, the analogy suggests that a “completely good” soul would also have to have the same four pivotal virtues. 311-313). It would be unjust deliberately to suppress reasonable comprehensive doctrines merely because they are different from our own. Thus justice is seen as an essential virtue of both a good political state and a good personal character. Justice rather requires inequality for people who are unequal. The principles include: The principle of equal liberty is the first principle of justice to be derived from the original position. Yet a variety of potentially conflicting comprehensive doctrines may be such that all are reasonable. 291-292, 340-342, 145, xviii, 13, 152n., 59-60, 133, 154-155, 144, 134). 136-140, and Common, p. 34). The veil was a condition that blinded people to al… Rawls analyzed justice in terms of maximum equal liberty regarding basic rights and duties for all members of society, with socio-economic inequalities requiring moral justification in terms of equal opportunity and beneficial results for all; and various post-Rawlsian philosophers develop alternative conceptions. He roars into the discussion, expressing his contempt for all the poppycock produced thus far and boldly asserting that justice is relative to whatever is advantageous to the stronger people (what we sometimes call the “might makes right” theory). If it uses those extracted resources itself, it must pay the tax itself. A Theory of Justice Summary. The problem is that civil law can itself be unjust in the sense of being unfair to some, so that we need to consider special justice as a function of fairness. Just as health is intrinsically and not just instrumentally good, so is justice; injustice is a disease—bad and to be avoided even if it isn’t yet having any undesirable consequences, even if nobody is aware of it (ibid., pp. Here he calls it an “artificial” but “not arbitrary” virtue, in that we construct it as a virtue for our own purposes, relative to our needs and circumstances, as we experience them. Social Justice: 7 Theories of Social Justice – Explained! Thus we could satisfactorily specify the requirements of an essentially Kantian conception of justice, as requiring respect for the dignity of all persons as free and equal, rational moral agents. Hume offers us a unique and fascinating argument to prove his point. Once more, a still timely moral issue has been addressed using the utilitarian theory of justice. Unlike Hobbes, he does not see this as a basis for all moral duty. In his Politics, Aristotle further considers political justice and its relation to equality. Even though different states, in the absence of international law, are in a natural condition of a state of war, as Hobbes thought, he was wrong to think that, in that state, anything rightly goes and that there is no justice. He also analyzes five sorts of criminal punishment—“corporal, or pecuniary, or ignominy, or imprisonment, or exile,” allowing for a combination of them; he also specifies that the corporal sort can be capital punishment. We have already discerned what the former concept means and now need to elucidate the latter. It is not at all clear that rational agents in a hypothetical original position would adopt such an egalitarian principle. On this view, any pattern of distribution, such as Rawls’s difference principle, that would force people to give up any holdings to which they are entitled in order to give it to someone else (i.e., a redistribution of wealth) is unjust. We shall consider, in succession, (1) the libertarian approach of Robert Nozick, (2) the socialistic one of Kai Nielsen, (3) the communitarian one of Michael Sandel, (4) the globalist one of Thomas Pogge, (5) the feminist one of Martha Nussbaum, and (6) the rights-based one of Michael Boylan. 93-130). The naturalistic worldview of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries that eventuated in an empirical and experimental (non-dogmatic) methodology in both natural and political science set an example for philosophers. See, in particular, the articles by John M. Cooper and Kraut himself. When Christian thinkers sought to develop their own philosophies in the middle ages (“medieval” meaning the middle ages and “middle” in the sense of being between antiquity and modernity), they found precious basic building-blocks in ancient thought. The eternal law establishes the order of God’s divine providence. (The reason he is not being considered at length here is that he does not offer a distinctive general theory of justice.) They instead. In the previous century, the Protestant Reformation shattered the hegemony of the Roman Catholic Church, so that thinkers need not feel so constrained to adhere to established orthodoxy. The act of coercing the vulnerable members of the population invalidates any contractual arrangements that may exist in the state of nature. Kant’s analysis of justice works well; and, given that, his applications to property rights, crime and punishment, and war and peace are also impressive. But some people acquire holdings unjustly—e.g., by theft or fraud or force—so that there are illegitimate holdings. Secondly, Aquinas refines the Augustinian just war theory by articulating three conditions that must jointly be met in order for the waging of war to be just:  (a) it must be declared by a leader with socio-political authority; (b) it must be declared for a “just cause,” in that the people attacked must be at fault and thus deserve it; and (c) those going to war must intend good and the avoidance of evil. Justice is a rational mean between the vicious extremes of deficiency and excess, having to do with our external actions regarding others. Citizens could try to collectively agree on basic rules. Aquinas discusses the same four cardinal moral virtues, including that of justice, in his masterpiece, the multi-volume Summa Theologica. This system includes, but is far from limited to, a vast, extensive practical philosophy, comprising many books and essays, including a theory of justice. This is a central issue that divides him from many post-Rawlsians, to a few of whom we now briefly turn. In his trial, Socrates was at pains to dissociate himself from them, after his conviction refusing to save himself, as a typical Sophist would, by employing an act of civil disobedience to escape (Dialogues, pp. Nevertheless, many of us today are sympathetic to this application of justice in support of a view that would not become popular for another two millennia. And, third, when one person injures another person through the deprivation of a valued good that negatively affects society, society can justly incarcerate the perpetrator for a period of time proportionate to the loss (Society, pp. Surely he is wrong about all women and non-Greeks, as such, being essentially inferior to Greek males in relevant ways, for cultural history has demonstrated that, when given opportunities, women and non-Greeks have shown themselves to be significantly equal. The theory of communitarianism began in the late 20th century, as an opposition to. In civil society, we may justly do anything we have not, at least implicitly, committed ourselves not to do. Likewise, in Gorgias, Plato has Callicles espouse the view that, whatever conventions might seem to dictate, natural justice dictates that superior people should rule over and derive greater benefits than inferior people, that society artificially levels people because of a bias in favor of equality. We would be rationally distrustful of one another, inclined to be anti-social, viewing others as threats to our own satisfaction and well-being. In his Metaphysics of Morals, Kant develops his ethical system, beyond this foundation, into a doctrine of right and a doctrine of virtue. While less egalitarian than what Rawls offers, it might prove an attractive alternative. 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