Justice Rawls Vs Walzer Essay, Research Paper
In my mind justice is a very abstract concept. Although it seems like everyone knows the meaning of the word many people view justice differently. If you would ask people what they associate the word justice with, you would hear many opinions. To me it means fairness, accountability, equality, punishment, following the letter of the law, and these are the words that came to my mind on the spot, but the list sure doesn t end here. What may seem just to one person may be considered totally unjust to someone else; we are faced with this reality very often. It could be a minor issue, which affects only few individuals, such as debating if a grade your professor gave you on an exam is a fair evaluation of your knowledge of the material. On a greater level, it could be an issue such as capital punishment. Those who support death sentence say that some criminals should be punished by death for crimes that they commit. Those with the opposing view, ask if it s just to have the power to take a person s life, no matter what crime they are guilty of committing. As Walzer states: Justice is a human construction, and it is doubtful that it can be made in only one way
In his discussion on distributive justice Walzer talks about distribution of goods in a society and power struggles that are constant in societies with where goods can be limited. According to him monopoly arises from lack of a valuable good in a society, the limited amount of that good automatically gives power to those individuals who poses it, creating inequality. He goes on explaining the theory of simple equality where government constantly limits the power of those with possession of the rare goods, but soon the government itself becomes the greater power which controls all other goods. He states that: Politics is always the most direct path to dominance, and political power is probably the most important and certainly most dangerous, good in human history. Here his solution is to constraint the agents of constraint , by a process of constitutional checks and balances . An other way he proposes to prevent the domination of political power is by distributing it widely, but this brings the danger of majority tyranny, which according to him is not as dangerous as claimed to be. Then he goes on to defining complex equality where dominance is reduced by a constant balance of dominance in different sphere where one person can not achieve total dominance, but only achieves it in one sphere.
John Rawls takes a more general approach to his discussion of justice stating that: We cannot, in general, assess a conception of justice by its distributive role alone . Among other things he states that based on the concept of original position, which is the appropriate initial status quo which insures that the fundamental agreements reached in it are fair . Based on the concept of the original position, we see how certain things such as person s position in a society, their possessions, and any details about them that may some how influence justice are ignored. This is defined by Rawls as a veil of ignorance , which basically means that justice is blind.
I can see some resemblance of both of the theories in our society, although we are far from reaching total equality. There is still inequality on all levels of our society. Our judicial system, which is the unit that upholds the law, unfortunately is not perfect and often unjust, may be adopting more of the principles expressed in the discussed writings we will become a more just and fair society.