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Justice or Fairness Approach Learning Plan 5: Ethical Theories Adam Bartel , Maggie LeMieux , Tim Petrie, Della Wilson- Burmeister 11/03/08. John Rawls. Rawls was influenced by Kant and Aristotle An American Philosopher Wrote the Following :

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Justice or Fairness ApproachLearning Plan 5: Ethical TheoriesAdam Bartel, Maggie LeMieux, Tim Petrie, Della Wilson-Burmeister11/03/08

john rawls
John Rawls
  • Rawls was influenced by Kant and Aristotle
  • An American Philosopher
  • Wrote the Following:

A Theory of Justice, Political Liberalism, The Law of Peoples, Justice as Fairness: A Restatement.

major contribution
Major Contribution
  • Formal guarantees of political voice and freedom of assembly are of little real worth to the desperately poor and marginalized in society.
  • Nonetheless, we would want to ensure at least the “fair worth” of our liberties: wherever one ends up in society, one wants life to be worth living, with enough effective freedom to pursue personal goals.
the first principle of justice
The First Principle of Justice
  • The Liberty Principle
  • First: each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive scheme of equal basic liberties compatible with a similar scheme of liberties for others.
  • Basic Liberties include: voting, running for office, freedom of speech and freedom of property.
the second principle of justice
The Second Principle of Justice
  • The Difference Principle
  • Social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that:
  • A) they are to be of the greatest benefit to the least-advantaged members of society(the difference principle.)
  • B) Offices and positions must be open to everyone under conditions of fair equality of opportunity.
  • The Liberty Principle takes precedence over The Difference Principle if they conflict.
theory of justice and fairness
Theory of Justice and Fairness
  • “In distributing benefits and burdens, treat people the same unless there are morally relevant differences between them.”
          • - Aristotle
economic impact
Economic Impact
  • Sample Arguments
  • For: Families of high-income workers have suffered greater economic loss than low-income families did, and should be compensated for it.
  • Against: Low-income and unemployed victims will get less relief, regardless of their need.
pain and suffering
Pain and Suffering


*The suffering experienced is probably as valid as the fact of death itself in determining aid


*It is impossible to determine how much each victim actually suffered.

*Surviving victims may be compensated disproportionately higher because they can communicate their experiences directly

*Benefits paid to families of deceased victims do not actually compensate the victims themselves.

  • For: The suffering experienced is probably as valid as the fact of death itself in distribute aid.
  • Aid will not be wasted on those who do not need it, since this approach can take into account total aid received from all other sources, such as life insurance.
  • Against: The use of aid as the criterion may lead to a significant lowering of the standard of living for higher income victims and families, and raising the future standard for lower income victims to levels above 9/11 levels
role in the community
Role in the Community


*It is fairest to reward uniformed personnel for their career of service to others and their specific sacrifice in this case.


*Civilian victims may not get as much compensation as uniformed victims despite their possible higher needs and/or their own acts of courage.


*Nozick wrote Anarchy, State, and Utopia which criticized A Theory of Justice. Because this book was a reaction to Rawls’ work, they are often read together.

*Anarchy, State, and Utopia was a defense of libertarian justice, which prioritizes the individual liberty rather than group liberty.

Robert Nozick

criticisms continued
Criticisms continued…
  • Those who support his theory respond that affordable and accessible healthcare arise inevitably by following through with a justice approach.
  • Fails to denote healthcare as a primary good.
real life examples
Real Life Examples
  • Every individual who is of age, has the right to vote for whichever candidate they feel is most suitable.
  • Pro: The people have the right to influence the direction of the nation.
  • Con: If the individual has a lack of knowledge of their candidate, it could be doing more harm than good.
  • This example relates to the First Principle of Justice.
real life examples1
Real Life Examples
  • When the organ donation process happens, there are many methods of selecting who will receive the donation. One method would be giving the organ to the person who needs it the most.
  • Pro: The most needy person will receive the organ regardless of their financial status.
  • Con: If the person is unable to pay for the transplant, the burden falls upon the taxpayers.
food for thought
Food for Thought
  • Is everyone being treated equally here?
  • What would be fair here?
  • What is unfair here?
  • Are behaviors/actions here defensible based on some standard?
  • What are the standards used to make decisions here?
  • Are there any imbalances here?
in conclusion
In Conclusion
  • Even though the Justice or Fairness approach works in most situations, there are cases where it simply doesn’t benefit everyone involved.