John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice Essay

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John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice holds that a rational, mutually disinterested individual in the Original Position and given the task of establishing societal rules to maximise their own happiness throughout life, is liable to choose as their principles of justice a) guaranteed fundamental liberties and b) the nullification of social and economic disparities by universal equality of opportunities, which are to be of greatest benefit to the least advantaged members of society , . Rawls’ system of societal creation has both strengths and weaknesses, but is ultimately sound. One strength is the inherent compulsion to look after the interests of the entire society through the Veil of Ignorance. One is unable to look after the interests of a…show more content…
Rawls’ principles of justice also take individual wellbeing into account. The competing theory of the day – utilitarianism, summarized in the slogan ‘the greatest good for the greatest number’, did not consider the good of individuals in society. Rawls’ theory, however, caters not only to individuals, but also to minorities who might suffer at the hands of utilitarianism. A Utilitarian might argue that Rawls’ assured individual liberties are not conducive to the betterment of society as a whole, in that individual welfare may sometimes conflict with communal welfare. This argument is somewhat negated on consideration of the annulment of disparities, which is not only beneficial to individuals, who could potentially possess some handicap either socially, economically or physically, but also to society, as it is the meritorious individuals who induce economic and social growth. Relative wealth, health and social position are mitigated in the interests of fairness. It stands to reason that the society in question will prosper from a system of formal equality, as it encourages excellence within the community. It also stimulates competition – rational individuals will naturally want more primary goods for themselves , and will be willing to compete for these. This is vital to a healthy economy because it prevents stagnating monopolization by individuals. One weakness in Rawls’ theory is his assumption that the individual

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