Essay: Good Socio Economic System

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¶ … Socio-Economic System:

The distributive justice principles of John Rawls

According to the philosopher John Rawls, "All social primary goods - liberty and opportunity, income and wealth, and the bases of self-respect - are to be distributed equally unless an unequal distribution of any or all of these goods is to the advantage of the least favored" (Piccard 2005). This seems to be the most just system to adopt to deal with the difficulties of governing a diverse and complex society, as exists in modernity. Rawls does not state that he believes that society should aggressively act as a leveler, and make all human beings 'the same' as exists under communism. Rather, he believes in creating equality of opportunities in a real and meaningful fashion, which may mean giving certain indigent groups the ability to overcome the natural advantages of education and birth more favored members of society possess.

A good socio-economic system must meet the minimum requirements of ensuring security, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness of all its members. A society that is not secure cannot be just, because brute force will prevail over law and order, and the strong will triumph over the weak. This fear of chaos in a lawless society caused some philosophers, such as Thomas Hobbes, to stress the importance of preserving the rule of a sovereign at all costs, because it was feared that mob rule must be much worse. However, the desire to create a society that was 'worth living' motivated the Enlightenment thinkers of the 16th century like John Locke to emphasize the need for liberty of all residents of a society. Locke believed that the rights of the governing could not outweigh the rights of the governed.

This belief is echoed in Rawls' concept of justice. "According to these principles, humans need liberty and freedom to pursue their interests as long as they do not harm others. People accomplish happiness by freely pursuing interests within a supportive society" (Storelli 49). However, absolute liberty for some may result in a lack of liberty for others. My liberty to profit due to my position on a large corporation enables me to send my children to better schools, to buy markers of class status and gain more social approbation, to reinvest my wealth, and, if society does not engage in redistributive efforts, to infringe upon the opportunities of those who do not possess such advantages.

Rawls modifies Locke's concept of the social contract that exists between ruler and ruled which holds that citizens voluntarily give up certain rights for the protections offered by a society, such as paying taxes to ensure that the state can protect one's property. The social contract Rawls believes should exist is one which is based upon a balance of liberty of equality, or an acknowledgement that a certain degree of enforced equity is demanded within a social context to ensure that the goals of liberty are met. Rawls also affirms Locke's belief in intrinsic, inalienable rights that are attached to the human person and cannot be infringed upon, the most sacred of which is the right of liberty (Storelli 50).

Rawls' system of justice is based upon a concept of distributive justice, outlined in his book A Theory of Justice. Rawls writes:

1. Each person has an equal claim to a fully adequate scheme of equal basic rights and liberties, which scheme is compatible with the same scheme for all; and in this scheme the equal political liberties, and only those liberties, are to be guaranteed their fair value.

2. Social and economic inequalities are to satisfy two conditions: (a) They are to be attached to positions and offices open to all under conditions of fair equality of opportunity; and (b), they are to be to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged members of society. (Rawls 1993, pp.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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