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Contractualism and justice (1). Introduction to Rawls’s theory. The issue of justice. The problem of social justice : how do we evaluate morally the basic structure of society? Basic structure : the fundamental institutions that fit together to make society a system of social cooperation.

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Contractualism and justice (1)


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    Presentation Transcript
    1. Contractualism and justice (1) Introduction to Rawls’s theory

    2. The issue of justice • The problem of social justice: how do we evaluate morally the basic structure of society? • Basic structure: the fundamental institutions that fit together to make society a system of social cooperation.

    3. Topics for today • Why is Rawls a contractualist? • Rawls’s version of contractualism • Rawls’s principles of justice

    4. Two basic ideas • A person’s conception of the good contains his fundamental • values and projects • attachments and loyalties • religious, philosophical and moral beliefs • Social unity: shared allegiance of citizens to the basic structure of their society

    5. Two constraints of democracy • Democratic social unity (DSU): Principles of justice should provide a basis for social unity consistent with the freedom and equality of citizens in a democracy • Fact of reasonable pluralism (FRP): In a genuine democracy there will be a plurality of reasonable conceptions of the good.

    6. Why is Rawls a contractualist? • Because of DSU and FRP, society’s conception of justice cannot be based on a particular conception of the good • So we can’t start from a comprehensive religious or philosophical doctrine • Rawls asks instead: Which principles would citizens themselves agree on in circumstances that respected their freedom and equality?

    7. Rawls’s theory: Justice as fairness (JF) • It’s a contractualist theory with the ideal agreement situation specified as the “original position” (OP) • The correct principles of justice are those that would be adopted in the OP • The OP is designed to be fair to free and equal citizens

    8. The original position (OP) • Is a purely hypothetical situation • Contains individuals (the “parties”) who agree on principles of justice • Requires the parties to have certain aims in coming to agreement • Imposes constraints on the process of agreement

    9. Aims of the parties To secure their ability: (1) to pursue their conception of the good (2) to reflect on and revise that conception (3) to understand, apply and live by the conception of justice agreed to

    10. Constraints • Publicity: choosing principles for public, basic social charter • Finality: choosing principles for a complete life • Veil of ignorance

    11. Veil of ignorance • Parties don’t know • place in society • natural endowment • conception of the good • Parties do know: • general principles of science and common sense • fact of reasonable pluralism • fact of moderate scarcity

    12. Rawls’s principles • Equal basic civil and political liberties • Fair value of political liberties • Fair equality of opportunity • “Difference principle” (DP): social and economic inequalities should be to everyone’s advantage; moreover, they should maximize the prospects of the least advantaged

    13. Difference principle DP forbids B but allows C

    14. Difference principle (cont.) DP selects C over B