J. Rawls' original position, set forth in "A Theory of Justice," was justly critiqued as too one-sided. J. Rawls agreed and emended his theory in "Political Liberalism" and other works.
The major supposition in JR is the rational or Hobbesian contract of "all men are created equal" and find it in their better interests to establish some type of legal system.
Rawls makes the assumption that each unit of the state has identical value, and then elides that formalism into saying each person has identical value.
Each unit of the state and each person is then believed by Rawls to have Hobbesian rights, such as liberty, freedom, transparency for rule of law, rationality, etc.
Part of the critique of Rawls' "A Theory of Justice," which thereupon was partially emended by him, involves his assumption that fairness or justice is better served by redistributing the labor of those who are more industrious to those who would benefit by receiving it. This socialist assumption contradicts in part the first set of "inalienable" or "rational" rights, which include the right of freedom and personal integrity.
The critique of this contradiction, per example: if a group begins with said rights, one may elect to enhance her personal freedom by working to develop a thrilling writing style or painting style. This in turn may bring her more income than her societal comrades. Rawls posits that redistributing her income to those who have less trumps her benefit of travel, via some of her wealth, to other locales, which in turn further enriches her perspective and work, or simply gives her pleasure.
Rawls termed this higher-order principle the "difference principle:" for people who choose to work more, save more, create more, their behavior and income is only allowed insofar as it maximally benefits the least advantaged in that society.
In other words, if another of said artist's friends chose to spend and not save, he would be supported in part by her greater income, to the point that all that she had would be given to him to raise up his standard of living to hers. That is called "fairness" by Rawls. The fact that his personal joy was great during his early-years' spending, and that she was working long hours in her early years at her desk or easel, was overly disregarded, in the opinion of many, by Rawls, as well as the fact that a person may learn lessons from being a "grasshopper" and then facing the consequences of his lifestyle choices. Ironically, while Rawls changed his theory from "A Theory of Justice," it is this earlier work which is taught or promoted in university settings.
Rawls' theory is basically the golden rule, with certain enforcements: the artist might prefer to take risks, live more frugally, and hope her work eventually brings her much reward, but she is doing her work because she chooses it, loves it, supports it by day job/training, etc. For her, it may be that the golden rule perspective includes respect for her personal freedom and categorically expects of her friend more saving, more personal responsibility, for his retirement. So, Rawls changed his redistribution of wealth to what may be called "progressive income tax," rather than a more rigid/doctrinaire version of "always redistribute all wealth to serve the poor, never mind the personal investment and personal choices which accumulate wealth in place of spending it." Such real-world wisdom is obvious to the majority, and those who elect to apply it, tend to accumulate wealth. American social economics data supports this rapid rise/fall potential as the reality, i.e., the vast majority of individuals changing their income levels (in terms of quintile distribution) for the better as they work. What is less equitable is the corporate accumulation of wealth as an institutionalized instrument of power; however, over a typical 50-year span, almost all Dow Jones "leading companies" are replaced, as companies rise and fall along a longer corporate timeline.
"A Philosophy of Universality," O. M. Aivanhov, and
"Nihilism," Father Seraphim Rose.
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