Rawls theory of Justice under Juris Law is an significant theory to the revival of natural law. John Rawls was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1921.During the 1960s, he mainly concentrated on writing A Theory of Justice, published in 1971.In this book John Rawls gave his theory of Justice. This complex work attempted to develop standards or principles of social justice that could apply to real societies.
Rawls wants Justice as fairness
Notion of fairness is fundamental I’m Rawls theory and it comes prior to the Rawls theory of justice. Fairness means in the theory of Rawls refers to :
- Avoid bias in our evaluations,
- Consider the concerns of others
- Uninfluenced by self interest
Justice as fairness seek to create an egalitarian society with free and equal citizens. To support his concept of fairness as justice , he prepares the ground with two fundamental concept original position and veil of ignorance .
1. Original Position — Rawls assumes a hypothetical situation in which those who are part of part of his theory is free and equal citizens with a representative who try to come up with model principles of fairness, justice and equality.
In other words, it’s an imaginary situation.
2. Veil of ignorance — Veil of ignorance is behind the concept of original position.it prevents arbitrariness and irrelevant facts in the determination of principles of justice. It means each representatives in the original position is deprived of knowledge of race , class ,gender and their situation in the society .
Although they are aware of general principles of justice and the situation prevalent in the society.
It means all the representatives are rational and reasonable.
Primary Goods —
These are essential for developing and exercising moral powers , and are useful for pursuing a wide range of specific conceptions of good life. Primary goods are:
- Basic rights and liberties
- Freedom of movement and free choice of trade or occupations
- The powers of officers and positions of responsibility
- Income and wealth
- Social basis of self-respect
Structure of society:
Structure of society refers to the group of people in the society on which principle of justice applied upon.
It’s the just and fair society having institutions who will further distribute the main benefits and burdens of social life. It is within this structure that member citizens device principles of justice in the original position regarding the distribution of primary goods on the method of reflective equilibrium . It means considered judgement with a solid ground of thinking to come up with more general principles.
Two Principle of justice
The idea of justice as fairness acquires concrete form in the two general principles given in the lexical priority.
1. Liberty Principle
- Justice requires maximum equal political liberty
- Greatest liberty for myself is compatible with the same amount of liberty for others.
Basic liberty includes, liberty to participate in political activities, liberty of thought and expression and liberty of holding property.
2. Diffrence Principle
Two Principle :
Socio Economics inequalities are just if they attach to position “Open to All” and “Benefit All “
Socio Economics Inequalities are just :
- If the inequalities are open to all — Equal opportunity Principle
- If inequalities will ” Benefit All” —- Difference Principle.
Social and economic inequalities are to satisfy two conditions:
first, they are to be attached to offices and positions open to all under conditions of fair equality of opportunity; and
second, they are to be to the greatest benefit of the least-advantaged members of society (the Difference Principle)
By “offices and positions” in his Second Principle, Rawls meant especially the best jobs in private business and public employment. He said that these jobs should be “open” to everyone by the society providing “fair equality of opportunity.” One way for a society to do this would be to eliminate discrimination. Another way would be to provide everyone easy access to education.
The most controversial element of his theory of social justice was his Difference Principle. He first defined it in a 1968 essay. “All differences in wealth and income, all social and economic inequalities,” he wrote, “should work for the good of the least favored.”
Later, when he wrote A Theory of Justice, he used the phrase, “least-advantaged members of society” to refer to those at the bottom of economic ladder. These might be unskilled individuals, earning the lowest wages in the society.
Under the Difference Principle, Rawls favored maximizing the improvement of the “least-advantaged” group in society. He would do this not only by providing “fair equality of opportunity,” but also by such possible ways as a guaranteed minimum income or minimum wage (his preference). Rawls agreed that this Difference Principle gave his theory of social justice a liberal character.
Moral idea behind difference principle is reciprocity. Reciprocity demands that we only exact form a scheme of social cooperation which we can reasonably expect that others would agree to. It connects the principle of altruism where everyone sacrifices for the good of others and principle of total egoism where everyone uses to get the best deal for themselves.
Finally, Rawls ranked his principles of social justice in the order of their priority. The First Principle (“basic liberties”) holds priority over the Second Principle. The first part of the Second Principle (“fair equality of opportunity”) holds priority over the second part (Difference Principle). But he believed that both the First and Second Principles together are necessary for a just society.
Criticism of John Rawls Theory of Justice by Amartya Sen
- There are many issue other than liberty on which there should be given more importance such as hunger ,starvation ,medical neglect etc.
- In his difference principle Rawls forgets other weaker section if society such as disabled person , single woman . They may have access to primary goods as enumerated by Rawls but despite that they needs to be uplifted to the level where they can stand at par with other sections of society .
- As per Sen , Rawls oberviewed the the idea of Nyaya-centered approach and ignored totally the niti-centric approach . He only provided political centric approach for just institutions . But no attention was given to actual behaviour of people and as well as the actual social realisation of those principles.
- John Rawls theory has not global perspectives.