incentive_egalit - Incentives and Egalitarianism 1. Three...

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Incentives and Egalitarianism 1. Three Responses. Rawls’s theory of justice as fairness proceeds on two levels. Substantively, justice as fairness proposes a reconciliation of liberty and equality. Instead of treating liberty and equality as warring values, Rawls aims to give both values due consideration, particularly in the idea that maximizing the minimum worth of liberty is the aim of social justice. Methodologically, justice as fairness relies on the device of the original position. To specify the principles of justice for a democratic society of free and equal persons, Rawls proposes that we consider which principles would be selected by such persons, under a veil of ignorance designed to model the idea that persons are free and equal and social cooperation should be fair between persons thus conceived. Critics have objected to this proposed accommodation in several ways. Let me note a few, with no pretence to completeness. Thus, libertarian critics have argued that justice as fairness does not give due weight to liberty. It does not include the full range of economic liberties in the first principle. That neglect, according to this criticism, comes in part because justice as fairness treats talents as morally irrelevant, and thus locates them behind the veil of ignorance, rather than supposing that they are part of our endowment by right. A second line of argument—styled communitarian—argues that Rawls places too much weight on personal liberties because he relies on a model of persons that is too individualistic: that he abstracts individuals from their social context, instead of emphasizing that we are members of political communities. The communitarian argues that individuals are best understood as part of “we”, with common values, and that reasoning about justice should use those common values as the basis for argument. According to the communitarian, we cannot really make sense of Rawls’s own endorsement of the difference principle, with its notion of talents as common assets, except on the assumption that individuals regard themselves as part of a community. A third line of criticism argues that Rawls aims to do too much at the level of philosophical theory, and leaves too little to be decided by the real politics of democracies. In particular, this line of criticism urges that issues of fair distribution are so central to political debate in democracies, and that democratic self-government is so important, that it is a mistake to try to resolve the distributive disagreement at the level of philosophical theory—through a prior choice of principles in the original position— because that would deprive democratic politics of so much of its substance. 2. Incentives Argument
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This note was uploaded on 02/27/2012 for the course POLS 101 taught by Professor Nemnich during the Fall '09 term at Boise State.

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incentive_egalit - Incentives and Egalitarianism 1. Three...

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