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Principles of Justice Essay

1. What are the principles of justice?

There are two principles of justice as defined by John Rawls. The first one is known as the liberty principle which means that a person ought to have equal right as other persons “compatible with the same scheme of liberties for all”. The second principle, known as the difference principle indicates that “social and economic inequalities needs to be attached to offices and positions open to all under conditions of fair and equal opportunity and they must be the greatest benefit of the least-advantaged members of society”. The second principle is concerned with how wealth in the society is distributed in such a way that if ever inequality exists it is towards what is most advantageous for worst-off.

2. What question are those principles meant to address (see §12.4)? Is this the same question as the one Rawls presents at the beginning of §2.1?

The principles are meant to address whether what is the best way to identify that “basic rights and liberties of the society that shall help regulate social and economic inequalities in citizens prospect over a complete life”. This is the same as the question addressed at the beginning of 2.1 which ask how “the claims of liberty and equality are to be understood under philosophical and moral basis from democratic institutions”. Both deals with the understanding of basic rights (equality) and liberty to deal with inequality or create a basis for democratic institutions.

  1. What is the problem of political legitimacy–or, when is political power legitimate?
    Democratic societies have a “diversity of reasonable comprehensive doctrines”. It is only natural for democratic society to have citizens with contrasting beliefs and point of views. After all, “democratic regime political power is regarded as the power of free and equal citizens”. Nonetheless, if this is the case, then political legitimacy becomes problematic since it follows that “citizens can legitimately exercise coercive power over one another”. To this end, Rawls specified that political power can only be legitimate if all reasonable citizens would accept it as such. Political power is only legitimate if it can be enforced.

4. What is the fourth role of political philosophy according to Rawls?
The fourth role has something to do with “probing the limits of practicable political possibility”. Political philosophy is seen as “realistically utopian”. There is a notion that society allows political order and thus, it is possible to have a democratic regime.

  1. What is Rawls’ distinction between reasonable and rational? What does a rational person do? What does a reasonable person do?

Reasonable is discussed and used by Rawls to mean being sensible and fair-minded to the extent that other opinions are taken into consideration before deciding a consclusion. Basically it involves “fair-terms of cooperation”. Reasonable person can tolerate ideas that conflicts his own and recognizes the fact that different ideas exist and agreements can be reached. On the other hand, rational individuals, Rawls commented, are those who act logically or acting towards personal interests. Rawls elaborated that rational person/s “acts towards the advantage of oneself or of each person cooperating”.

6. What is an overlapping consensus?

An overlapping consensus means that the different constituents of the society are supporting the same principle such as justice despite having different reasons for doing so. For instance different doctrines exist, if there is an overlapping consensus, these doctrines would still endorse the same political concept of justice.

7. What role does an overlapping consensus play with respect to political legitimacy and why is reasonable pluralism a problem for creating an overlapping consensus?
Overlapping consensus generates stability which gives the citizens a reason to abide the law. Note that overlapping consensus happens when people support the same principle despite different views, thus, overlapping consensus denotes that citizens accepts something. With respect to political legitimacy, if there is an overlapping consensus then it is legitimate or it can be enforced. Reasonable pluralism is a problem in creating overlapping consensus when applied to community since reasonable pluralism entails free institutions, since there are some irreconcilable differences that exists.

  1. What does the fair value of the political liberties protect (see §13.5).

Fair value of the political liberties entails the political rights such as to run for office and hold a government position. It gives the citizen equal opportunities to acquire government position despite class. This protects the citizens’ right for political equality and possibility of discrimination and abuse of power.

9. What is the problem of distributive justice?

Basically distributive justice deals with the fair allocation of resources among the members of the society. Rawls believe that assistance should have a certain limit. The basic problem concerns how to allocate resources to different groups of recipients.

10. What would Rawls say about the Reich reading?

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Reich showed that it is important to allocate resources to avoid the imbalance of supply and demand. Moreover, Reich also noted that there had been inequality increase and the government is seen to be either “run for the benefit of all or by a few big interest”.  Rawls would have said that the overlapping consensus must be met in order to solve the political problem and achieve stability. The problems with inequality reflect the difference between rational and reasonable. Reich argued that the power had shifted from citizens to consumers and investors. Rawls would agree with Reich that this is not right.

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