Rawls’ Theory of Justice, Economics 12 and Enlightenment
Part 1 – WHAT’S A FAIR START?
Rawls argues that even meritocracy—a distributive system that rewards effort—doesn’t go far enough in leveling the playing field because those who are naturally gifted will always get ahead. Furthermore, says Rawls, the naturally gifted can’t claim much credit because their success often depends on factors as arbitrary as birth order. Sandel makes Rawls’s point when he asks the students who were first born in their family to raise their hands.
Part 2 – WHAT DO WE DESERVE?
Sandel discusses the fairness of pay differentials in modern society. He compares the salary of former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor ($200,000) with the salary of television’s Judge Judy ($25 million). Sandel asks, is this fair? According to John Rawls, it is not.
Touching on topics such as affirmative action policies, taxation, and just what should be done about inequality, Rawls provides an excellent point of crossing-over between our Economics and Philosophy classes this week.
If you are interested in pursuing the ethical, social and political import of inequality, Mr. Lloyd’s class has been reading and discussing the Globe and Mail‘s recent series, The Wealth Paradox, which tells the story of:
Canada […] at a crossroads. A gap has grown between the middle class and the wealthy. Now, that divide is threatening to erode a cherished Canadian value: equality of opportunity for all.
And for the economists in our midst, what is the epistemological basis for our understanding of inequality:
- What do we know?
- How do we know it?
If we look to gain such knowledge as a means to making our world more ethical, and more oriented toward justice, what is there to be known on the matter of inequality?
What questions must be asked?
And do these questions have answers sufficient that we can then act, and create systems of government and society that reflect our individual and collective notions of “justice”?
I look forward to engaging in this topic this week with the Philosophy 12 bunch, as well as our friends in AP Economics, and anyone else who finds themselves here, reading this post.
In the interest of enabling and creating a public sphere that might be equal to the tasks and questions raised by the ongoing Project of Enlightenment, where Kant (along with we here at Philosophy 12) invites you:
“Have the courage to use your own reason – That is the motto of enlightenment.”