John Rawls' A Theory of Justice Essay

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John Rawls' A Theory of Justice

John Rawls' "A Theory of Justice" has long been revered as a marvel of modern political philosophy. It's most well-known for the two principles of justice outlined by Rawls: (1) that all persons have an equal right to liberty; and (2) that (a) all inequalities in society should be arranged to benefit the least advantages, and (b) that all positions and offices should be open and accessible as outlined by fair equality of opportunity. Rawls' conception of society, as a "co-operative venture for mutual gain", forms the basis for both principles, and he is at all times concerned with creating a stable concept of fair and just society. Rawls' second principle, dealing with distributive justice and equality
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This principle seems fair, as all social endowments are arbitrary and should not affect one's fate. Rawls' "difference principle" also seems reasonable because it removes unjust social advantages without actually altering the advantaged's endowments (which would be almost impossible, as seen in Vonnegut.)

While Rawls' amended principle does seem progressive, there are a few flaws and objections, as noted by such contemporaries as Kymlicka. Whereas Rawls strives to alter conventional equality of opportunity (which opens all offices and positions regardless of status, age, race etc), he changes the concept to allow for another social circumstance: natural endowments. Thus, according to Rawls, natural endowments (intelligence, physical ability etc) should not factor in the distribution of the goods in a fair and equal society.

Here we can note Kymlicka's first objection: although this amendment reasonably accounts for unfair advantages in higher IQ, physical strength etc (which Rawls responds to with his re-distribution to the least advantaged in the "difference principle"), it does not account for unfair disadvantages (in terms of income, lack of health/ability, lack of self-realization and respect: all things which are necessary for "human goodness" according to Rawls) that are uncharacteristic to many of the members of society. Kymlicka states that even Rawls' adjusted theory does not provide a fair and just solution for a physically or mentally

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