The question of equality
The question of “who pays what” has been an age long debated. This question stems from whether we have equal opportunities to access available resources such as education, health, freedom and income. It is in this regard that Rawl set out a theory of justice for a liberal society. He sees justice as fairness as answering to the demands of both freedom and equality. He thinks society should be structured in a way that favours the least advantage. This is because the form of society’s basic structure will have profound effect on the lives of citizens, influencing not only their prospects but most deeply their goals, attitude, relationships and character. Institutions that have such pervasive influence on peoples’ life requires justification.
In a quest of setting out justice as fairness, Rawl makes a simplifying assumption that society is self- sufficient and closed, so that citizens enter it only by birth and leaves it only by death. Social cohesion in some form is necessary for citizens to be able to live a decent life. This is not far from what the disciples did in Antioch. The love and unity they exhibited at the time made them earned the title “Christians” which is widely accepted today.
In determining justice as fairness, Rawl set out two guiding principles of justice: First, each person should have the same indefeasible claim to a fully adequate scheme of equal basic liberties, which is compatible with the same scheme of liberties for all. The second principle is that social and economic inequalities are to satisfy two conditions;
- They are to be attached to offices and positions open to all under conditions of fair equality of opportunity.
- They are to be the greatest benefit of the least- advantaged members of society (the difference principle).
Read the continuation ( The difference Principle)