Justice as Fairness
The late John Rawls, in 'Justice as Fairness', acknowledges that society exists for the "mutual benefit of all its members" (Nuttall 2002:223). They should be better off living in a society than not. However, he also indicates that there is a conflict of interest between members within the society, as each tries to accumulate a larger share of wealth and goods available.
Rawls' theory of justice is seen as the solution to the conflict of interests in society, and revolves around the adaptation of two fundamental principles of justice, which would, in turn, guarantee a just and morally acceptable society. The first principle guarantees the right of each person to have the most extensive basic liberty compatible with the liberty of others. The second principle states that social and economic positions are to be (firstly) to everyone's advantage and (secondly) open to all.
Rawl believes that the first principle (the liberty principle) should take precedence over his second (the difference principle).
The liberty principle entails that each citizen should have the right to political liberty (ie to vote and stand for election), liberty of conscience and freedom of thought, the right to hold personal property, freedom of speech and assembly, and freedom from arbitrary arrest and seizure. Rawl wishes to see all these freedoms distributed equally, as he asserts that this is the basis of a just society.
The first part of Rawls' second principle of justice states that social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that they are reasonably expected to be everyone's advantage. Rawls refers to this portion as 'the difference principle'. The difference principle implies two things. First, that those who posses fewer natural assets such as wealth or education, deserve special consideration and compensation. Second, Rawls implies that...