6 Principles of Justice

/ 14 November 2012

For my Ethics class (Justice in the 21st Century) today instead of the regular reading and written responses we were to do a written assignment laying out three principles of justice we’re fairly sure make sense, three we’re not as sure of, and then wrestling with one of those latter three. I thought that putting those responses here would be interesting for anyone who stumbles across it to read.

Principles of Justice I’m Fairly Sure Would Make Sense

  1. Groups of people with legitimate hierarchical power over others (like politicians) can have specified privileges so long as they don’t hurt the abilities of or disadvantage everyone else, above or below them
  2. Though a right to a say may not exist in every situation, having a say is necessary in most cultures to have something that resembles equality
  3. For justice to be found we must agree to cooperatively disagree on core assumptions necessary for a true theory of justice

Principles of Justice I’m a Little Less Sure Would Make Sense

  1. A just society is one that places power less as correlated to monetary wealth so much as wealth of other sorts
  2. Those that come into society at any one level deserve whatever resources necessary to let them reach the level they aspire to regardless of their own ability to provide those resources for themselves
  3. Though they have done terrible acts, a just society would far from having the death penalty not even have life sentences, and all who are freed from correctional facilities would leave with all the rights they had before committing their crime unless that right is directly tied to the crime

Wrestling with the Second of the Principles I’m a Little Less Sure of

Though there are situations where an individual may desire to move down the social class ladder from where they came into society, that is not at issue here. With personal discipline it is possible to move down, and that sort of tenet indeed exists in most societies. What is harder to justify within society is the support of those going up the social class ladder. Those that are poor and wish to become wealthier arguably need a decent education. At the lower ages this involves access to better public education, though with a taxpayer burden one that any area with open enrollment has already overcome. But what about adults (young, middle-aged, or old) who desire a higher education? Taxation or otherwise societies today don’t feel that those who’d need it deserve their aid. This is the core conflicting tendency I see of this principle. The better off don’t see the economic and social advantages that enabling poor to get advanced degrees brings society as a whole, and yet as a result the poor themselves don’t fight the system because they don’t recognize their full potential. If society would universally support movement between social classes then we’d all be better off, but as set up today most societies rarely support this. Each social class has their own view on any of these principles, and it is the meshing into one of these many perspectives and tendencies that would render any principle of justice truly just to everyone.