Let me suggest some
organization here before we go off all over the map.
Dee wants property rights at the top of the queue.
Ann wants human welfare. I'm half way to being a communitarian, and Vera
doesn't trust theories at all.
We all have different views
on Rawls and justice. Let me suggest that we start with some
discussion of two key elements of Rawls' theory: the original
position and his two principles of justice. I
have looked over a lot of articles on Rawls, and much of the
criticism focuses on those areas.
- The Original Position
- The two principles of justice, especially
the second principle
I don't think we should confine ourselves to just these areas, but they are a good place to begin. Let me start with a brief description of the Original
Position. Here's my box top summary.
The Original Position is a situation in
which a group of people contemplate what basic institutions should
govern their society. It is their job to choose these
basic institutions. They are assumed to be functionally
rational and self-interested, but they are not envious of the success
of others. Furthermore, they must choose from behind a veil
of ignorance. They do not know what position they will occupy in
the society governed by the institutions and rules they choose. They know only some
general facts about human nature and society.
In this Original Position they are to choose
institutions and rules for living. According to Rawls, the rules
they choose are to be accepted as just because they are chosen under
the conditions he sets out. In other words, he has reduced the
problem of choosing principles of justice to one of pure procedure.
It is the procedure that guarantees that
the principles chosen are just. There is no independent criterion
for deciding whether the principles are 'correct.'