JohnRawls and Robert Nozick theories of justice
Rawls’sTheory of Justice
JohnRawls` Theory of Justice is presented in the form of two principlesof accounts of justice: the first one is the principle of liberty-the people`s fundamental liberties of equality which include thefreedom of speech, association and religion among others and thesecond law is the difference principle which states that theinequalities existing in the economic and social goods are onlyjustified if they are aimed at promoting the welfare of the leastdisadvantaged persons in the society. This theory is based on thesocial contract tradition (Scanlon,1973).His aim was to understand the definition of equilibrium points thatwhen they are gathered together, a form of civil system which ischaracterized by what is termed as ‘fairness justice’ isdeveloped. He claims that if a society is a matter of cooperationbetween the low class and the higher class for mutual advantage, thecondition for this collaboration need a defence and any otherinequalities need to be justified. Therefore according to Rawls, thetheory of justice and its principles must be founded on the premisethat the rational and free people who have a concern of furtheringtheir interests would offer acceptance in the initial equalityposition as defining the necessary conditions of their association.
Theview of Rawls`s argument is in line with the market economy in whichwealth distribution is through the so-called moral obligation-through welfare and tax systems to the point where this no longerserves as an incentive to distribution even to the poor Scanlon,T. M. (1973).His form of egalitarianism has its basis on a kind of social contracttheory instead of any human needs evaluation, this leads him to maketraditional liberal assumptions about the nature of people who hebelieves to be focused on their personal interests, but in hisconclusion he states that egalitarian distribution of wealth is whatis regarded as fair by many.
Nozick’sTheory of Entitlement
Nozickin his theory of entitlement made a distinction between historicaljustice principles and the end-sate principles. On his view, theend-state principles such as the human needs and the social equalityare not relevant in making justification for rewards. His main aimwas to come up with a set of historical principles through adetermination can be done concerning certain form of wealthdistribution is just or not and he made a suggestion for threepreserving rules: The first rule stated that wealth had to beacquired in a just way in the first place, this is to mean thatproperty should not have been stolen and in the way of acquiring it,no one`s rights were compromised (Arrow,1978).Secondly, wealth transfer should have been done in a just manner fromone responsible person to another and lastly, if there was any formof injustice in acquisition and transfer of wealth then thisinjustice needed to be resolved.
Accordingto Nozick, the three rules stated above can serve to offerjustification on the inequalities existing in wealth and rewarddistribution, with this conception he utterly rejects the idea of theexistence of a moral basis for wealth redistribution in the name ofRawls`s ‘Social Justice` or equality. His rejection of the termsocial justice has also been supported by most of the libertariantheorists who have developed high suspicion on the phrase. He assertsthat the only way in which wealth can be transferred from the rich tothe poor in the society is through personal or private charity actsrather through any other form of "moral coercion" (Arrow,1978).With his third principle of injustice rectification, profoundegalitarian implications could occur, more specifically on if theorigins of wealth were through corruption or acts of duplicity. Thisalso brought into debate the wealth which was acquired by the Westthrough colonial conquests, enslavement of Africans, the Latinos, andthe Indians.
Comparisonof the two theories
Nozickmakes a classification of the theories of justice as eitherhistorical or result and as either patterned or un-patterned. Hisentitlement theory is historical and un-patterned. It does not demandthat wealth distribution is correlated with anything else such asmoral obligations. People can be entitled to wealth acquired bychance or as gifts. Any form of wealth distribution irrespective ofwhether it has any patterns or not as long as is just provided itshistory is just and for a fact that it came with the acquisitionrules, transfer, and rectification. On the other, the theory ofjustice by Rawls is a result approach. His principle choices arebased on what people are likely to get as a result of the possiblesets of principles- he claims that there is no other way of choosing.
Similaritiesof the Nozick’s and Rawls’s theories
Nozickmakes a point of his similarity of his theory of entitlement and theprocess by which in the principles of Justice Theory by Rawls arefounded on. Rawls makes a specification on an initial situation and adeliberation process and asserts that whatever accrues from this arerules of justice in similar terms, Nozick makes a specification onthe process and assures that whatever comes out of this just. Both ofthe theories have a similarity in specifying the starting points andthe transformation process, and each of them accepts the result.
Withregards to the distribution of wealth by the government, Nozickadmits that his theory of entitlement in not sufficient enough tocounter the demands of the redistributionist state, he accepts thatsome holdings were acquired through some past acts of injusticethrough conquests and enslavement. Responding to Rawls, Nozick was inagreement that the difference principle was right and morallyacceptable- what he refers to as "rectification" on theidea that those who are currently considered to be poor werepreviously the victims of injustice, for instance the first worldWest and the third world countries in Africa, Latin America, andAsia.
Additionally,both the theories rates the success of the society as per how closelyits governing laws and procedures adhere to the systems in placerather than whether this set of legislation produce outcomes whichare considered to be morally optimum. They both shared a political,philosophical view in developing the theories having little regard onthe practical tenets of justice in the human nature. Both followedthe dictum by Immanuel Kant which states that let justice triumpheven if it leads to the perishing of the world.
Contrastbetween the theories
Oneof the significant differences between the two theories is thedefinition of wealth distribution by the government and itslegitimacy. In place of Rawls` difference principle, Nozick came upwith the "entitlement theory" of justice whereby holding ofsocial and economic goods by individuals is only justifiable if itwas either acquired or transferred through just and voluntary meansrespectively. According to Nozick, acquisition from automatictransfers and taxation is not just and are therefore unacceptable.However, unlike Rawls who offered the ways in which wealth can bejustly acquired, Nozick never gives a well-spelled criteria for justacquisition.
Anotherway in which the differences occur is on the rationale of Rawls`sdifference principle. Nozick critiques it by saying that it notreasonable to make a claim that because all the members of thesociety are beneficiaries of social cooperation, the less endowedones have an automatic entitlement to the share of earnings and giftsof their peers who are more successful.
Persuasivenessand regards to the structure of the society
Inmy opinion, I would support Nozick`s theory since his theory andarguments are all about respecting people`s rights to own wealth andthe right to self-ownership. I am for the point that we must abide bythe freedoms of people and allow them to make a decision on what theywant to do with their wealth. No one is the same as the other, and wemust respect their uniqueness. People themselves are the cause ofwhat they own and thus cannot use them in the way they do not wantto, even if the outcome would have been for a greater good. It iscruel to take away property from well-endowed people to redistributeit basing on a form of a pattern which in one way or another violatestheir rights. What I am against is exactly what taxation as a kind ofredistribution does.
Arrow,K. J. (1978). Nozick`s entitlement theory of justice. Philosophia,7(2),265-279.
Scanlon,T. M. (1973). Rawls` theory of justice. Universityof Pennsylvania Law Review,121(5),1020-1069.