Justice and Fairness Approach Learning Plan 5: Ethical Theories

Rawls was influenced
by Kant and Aristotle
An American
Wrote the Following:
A Theory of Justice,
Political Liberalism,
The Law of Peoples,
Justice as Fairness: A
•Formal guarantees of political
voice and freedom of assembly
are of little real worth to the
desperately poor and
marginalized in society.
• Nonetheless, we would want
to ensure at least the “fair
worth” of our liberties:
wherever one ends up in
society, one wants life to be
worth living, with enough
effective freedom to pursue
personal goals.
The Liberty Principle
First: each person is to have an equal right to the
most extensive scheme of equal basic liberties
compatible with a similar scheme of liberties for
Basic Liberties include: voting, running for office,
freedom of speech and freedom of property.
The Difference Principle
Social and economic inequalities are to be arranged
so that:
A) they are to be of the greatest benefit to the
least-advantaged members of society(the
difference principle.)
B) Offices and positions must be open to everyone
under conditions of fair equality of opportunity.
The Liberty Principle takes precedence over The
Difference Principle if they conflict.
“In distributing
benefits and
burdens, treat
people the same
unless there are
morally relevant
differences between
 - Aristotle
Sample Arguments
For: Families of high-income workers have
suffered greater economic loss than lowincome families did, and should be
compensated for it.
Against: Low-income and unemployed
victims will get less relief, regardless of their
*The suffering experienced is probably as
valid as the fact of death itself in
determining aid
*It is impossible to determine how much
each victim actually suffered.
*Surviving victims may be compensated
disproportionately higher because they can
communicate their experiences directly
*Benefits paid to families of deceased
victims do not actually compensate the
victims themselves.
For: The suffering experienced is probably as valid
as the fact of death itself in distribute aid.
Aid will not be wasted on those who do not need it,
since this approach can take into account total aid
received from all other sources, such as life
Against: The use of aid as the criterion may lead to
a significant lowering of the standard of living for
higher income victims and families, and raising the
future standard for lower income victims to levels
above 9/11 levels
*It is fairest to reward uniformed
personnel for their career of service
to others and their specific sacrifice
in this case.
*Civilian victims may not get as
much compensation as uniformed
victims despite their possible higher
needs and/or their own acts of
Robert Nozick
*Nozick wrote
Anarchy, State, and
Utopia which criticized
A Theory of Justice.
Because this book was
a reaction to Rawls’
work, they are often
read together.
*Anarchy, State, and
Utopia was a defense of
libertarian justice,
which prioritizes the
individual liberty rather
than group liberty.
Fails to denote
 Those who support his
healthcare as a primary theory respond that
affordable and accessible
healthcare arise inevitably
by following through with a
justice approach.
Every individual who is of age, has the right to vote
for whichever candidate they feel is most suitable.
Pro: The people have the right to influence the
direction of the nation.
Con: If the individual has a lack of knowledge of
their candidate, it could be doing more harm than
This example relates to the First Principle of
When the organ donation process happens, there
are many methods of selecting who will receive the
donation. One method would be giving the organ to
the person who needs it the most.
Pro: The most needy person will receive the organ
regardless of their financial status.
Con: If the person is unable to pay for the
transplant, the burden falls upon the taxpayers.
Is everyone being treated equally here?
What would be fair here?
What is unfair here?
Are behaviors/actions here defensible based on
some standard?
What are the standards used to make decisions
Are there any imbalances here?
Even though the Justice or Fairness approach works
in most situations, there are cases where it simply
doesn’t benefit everyone involved.