Justice as Fairness versus the Principle of Average Utility. On John Rawl's statement.

Essay by push2003 March 2002

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In this essay I will examine the validity of John Rawls' statement that; individuals in the original position (OP) would choose his conception of justice over the principle of average utility. To reach a satisfactory conclusion requires an elaborate groundwork of definitions and concepts, which allows us to illustrate the situation Rawls conceptualized for individuals in the OP, choosing between the two opposing principles of justice. The first step is to define justice and more specifically, the particular type of justice that applies to societies and finally examine what makes one conception of justice better than another. The second step is to explain the OP by looking at the constraints present in the OP and the reasoning behind the constraints of the OP. At this point the difficult preparatory work is mostly done, in the third step one simply has to layout and explain the two conceptions of justice. Finally, one must apply what is known about the OP to the two conceptions of justice and compare the two.

Only then can it be determined which is the better choice for individuals in the OP and whether or not Rawls' prediction is correct.

Armed with a plan of attack it now seems logical to begin by defining justice. Webster's defines justice as: a.) The principle of moral rightness: equity. b.) Conformity to moral rightness in conduct or attitude: righteousness. Rawls states, "Justice is the first virtue of social institutions," (Chapt.1 Pp.3) and focuses his arguments around the concept of justice as it pertains to society. To accommodate that focus Rawls creates a definition that is a good synthesis of the two definitions given by Webster's. Rawls hold that in a just society, "Everyone accepts and knows that the others accept the same principles of justice, and the basic social...