Distributive Justice

Essay by Anonymous UserUniversity, Ph.D.A+, January 1996

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Philosophy 10

Should the strong be required to support the weak? How does society 'distribute' wealth among its members? These are the questions. There are three basic sides to this issue. The permissive system entitles individuals to a subsistence income supply for existing as a human. The puritan system requires that people at least be willing to contribute to society in order to receive a subsistence income. Finally, the Individual view holds the property rights of the individual to be sacred: no one may forcibly deprive him of his goods. I will argue for the last alternative.

Individualism is an extension of Locke's idea of property rights. An Individualist believes each person owns his own life, the fruits of his labor, and his property. No one may deprive him of these property rights. He is free to act as long as his actions do not interfere with the property rights of others.

At this point it is important to define what money is. Money is an exchange of value. Money has value because it represent labor, or value, one has created but not yet used. Money in my pocket is what I have created but not yet consumed. Money is not a natural resource; it does not grow on trees. Men can make money by their physical or mental labor. Do I not, then, have full claim to my earnings?

If A discovers a cure for AIDS; it surely was not solely a product of A. Society's framework made the discovery possible: A had to build on previous knowledge; she had to use a laboratory she probably did not own. All of these factors make society a partner in the discovery. Therefore, she does not have the right to all of the benefits of her discovery; she must...