It is an alternative to utilitarianism. The project is motivated by objections to utilitarianism and utilitarianism is the view that receives the most scrutiny by far.
Rawls believes that a social contract theory, similar those proposed by Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau, would be more logical solution to the question of fairness in any government.
Social contract theory in general and including the views of Rawls, is such that in a situation where a society is established of people who are self interested, rational, and equal, the rules of justice are established by what is mutually acceptable and agreed upon by all the people therein.
By this he means that all deciding parties in establishing the guidelines of justice all citizens must see themselves as equal to everyone paying no mind to their economic situation or anything else that they could keep in mind to negotiate a better situation to those qualities.
For example, if everyone in this society has an equal amount of influence toward the establishing of specific laws, a rich man may propose that taxes should be equal for all rather than proportionate to ones assets.
It is for this and similar situations that Rawls feels that everyone must become oblivious to themselves. Rawls believes that the foundational guideline agreed upon by the those in the original position will be composed of two parts.
The first of these rules of justice being one that enforces equal rights and duties for all citizens and the later of the two one which regulates the powers and wealth of all citizens. In the conception of utilitarianism possessed by Rawls, an impartial spectator and ideal legislator are necessary components.
The impartial spectator is one who rational and sensitive to all of the desires of society. The impartial spectator must feel these desires as if they were his own desires and by doing such, give each of them priority over other desires and organize them into one system from which the ideal legislator tries to maximize satisfaction for all citizens by manipulating and adjusting the policy for that society.
By this theory of utilitarianism, Rawls argues that the decision making process is being integrated into one conscience and that this system gives no mind to the individual whose rights and freedoms may be ignored because there beliefs are not widespread. Rawls argues that two principles of justice will emerge from the negotiations of the original position: However, the second seems to suggest that if it benefits society, then inequalities of political power are acceptable.
Although somewhat contradictory, this seems reasonable since getting the opinions of everyone every time an issue arose would be, to say the least, inefficient.
According to Rawls, justice as fairness is far more acceptable than utilitarianism. An example taken from The Encyclopedia of Political Philosophy explains two situations, one acceptable by Rawls and the other acceptable under utilitarianism.
The first states that slavery, if beneficial to the slave as well as everyone elseis indeed acceptable according to Rawls. It is just this reasoning that Rawls proves his theories superior. Rawls feels that utilitarianism does not take into account the individual and pays too much mind to the general happiness.
Rawls argues that in this case everyone would be better off with his social contract theory rather than utilitarianism since under his theory general happiness would still be increased, but at the expense of no one or few. Rawls believes that the happiness of many may indeed outweigh the happiness of the few, but to govern by this would be unfair and unjust.
Mill explains that the principle of utility should only be used as a tool for generating secondary moral principles such as, one should not lie to others so as to preserve or increase general happiness.
Mill goes on to say that we should only go solely by the principle of utility when faced with a moral dilemma between two or more secondary principles. For example, according to Mill, I should protect my neighbor from harm and I should not deceive another. So if one wishes to harm my neighbor and it is within my power to either protect by deceiving or essentially condemn by truth, then by reverting to the principle of utility, I will do what preserves or produces the most happiness.John Rawls & Theory The social contract theory of John Rawls challenges utilitarianism by pointing out the impracticality of the theory.
Mainly, in a society of utilitarians, a citizen’s rights could be completely ignored if injustice to this one citizen would benefit the rest of society.
John Rawls & Theory The social contract theory of John Rawls challenges utilitarianism by pointing out the impracticality of the theory. Mainly, in a society of utilitarians, a citizen’s rights could be completely ignored if injustice to this one citizen would benefit the rest of society.
Classical utilitarianism, the nineteenth century theory of Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill, is the philosophy of “the greatest good of the greatest number.” The more modern version is average utilitarianism, which asks us not to maximize the amount of good or happiness, but rather its average level in society.
John Rawls is the subject of A Theory of Justice: The Musical!, an award-nominated musical billed as an "all-singing, all-dancing romp through 2, years of political philosophy".
The musical premiered at Oxford in and was revived for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. After reviewing John Rawls's arguments against utilitarianism in A Theory of Justice and then examining Michael Sandel's and Robert Nozick's criticisms of those arguments, Scheffler points to three important similarities between utilitarianism and Rawls's own theory.
Rawls and utilitarianism. Class notes for 30 October. Main points.
A Theory of Justice tackles many things. But it’s fair to say that it has one dominant theme. It is an alternative to utilitarianism. The project is motivated by objections to utilitarianism and utilitarianism is the view that receives the most scrutiny by far.