Objective[ edit ] In A Theory of Justice, Rawls argues for a principled reconciliation of liberty and equality that is meant to apply to the basic structure of a well-ordered society. Principles of justice are sought to guide the conduct of the parties. These parties are recognized to face moderate scarcity, and they are neither naturally altruistic nor purely egoistic.
For Mill, justice and utility are not dissociated from one another, and it is incorrect to affirm that Millian utilitarianism would depart from justice in order to maximize social utility. Unlike A Theory of Justice, the principles of justice are not established once and for all in Utilitarianism, and that is why Millian justice is more democratic than Rawlsian justice.
John Rawls; John Stuart Mill; justice; utilitarianism. In order to make his theory seem better, Rawls decided to attack utilitarianism and picked out John Stuart Mill as one of his targets.
In what follows, my aim will be to offer a careful reading of Utilitarianism and clarify two misunderstandings surrounding it that A Theory of Justice has contributed to perpetuate.
In the end, after having clarified Utilitarianism, I shall argue that Millian justice is more democratic than Rawlsian justice. The striking feature of the utilitarian view of justice is that it does not matter […] how this sum of satisfactions is distributed among individuals […].
The correct distribution in either case is that which yields the maximum fulfillment. Society must allocate its means of satisfaction whatever these are, rights and duties, opportunities and privileges, and various forms of wealth, so as to achieve this maximum if it can.
But in itself no distribution of satisfaction is better than another [ It is true that certain common sense precepts of justice [ But from a utilitarian standpoint the explanation of these precepts [of justice] and of their seemingly stringent character is that they are those precepts which experience shows should be strictly respected and departed from only under exceptional circumstances if the sum of advantages is to be maximized4.
To support the interpretation above, Rawls quotes the last two paragraphs of Utilitarianism. So what he is implying is that, in the last two paragraphs of Utilitarianism, Mill writes that sometimes we have to depart from the precepts of justice if our aim is to maximize the sum of advantages.
In other words, Mill sacrifices the precepts of justice for the sake of maximizing utility5.
That is the critique Rawls saves for Mill. The other one, concerning the distribution of goods, he ascribes to Sidgwick, and that is why we are not going to deal with it.
The way Rawls criticizes Mill echoes some previous criticisms on utilitarian thought. Such thinking, the critics argued, may depart us from justice. Once our goal is to guarantee the greatest happiness for the greatest number, nothing precludes us from sacrificing the individual rights of, say, a minority group who makes the majority unhappy.
Under exceptional circumstances, it 3 My criticism of Rawls shall concentrate solely on A Theory of Justice and does not apply to later works. The antidemocratic strand of Rawlsian justice highlighted in my conclusion, for instance, is greatly diminished in RAWLS, Although both Bentham and Mill were utilitarians, it is well known that the latter introduced major changes in the utilitarian tradition.
Like Bentham, Mill also identified utility with happiness. Yet what he called happiness hardly resembles what Bentham meant by the same name. Whereas Benthamite happiness is purely hedonistic, Millian happiness is eudaimonistic7. Despite their differences, we call Bentham and Mill utilitarians because both writers contended that society should promote utility, that is, happiness.
It all depends on how justice is defined.
If justice is seen as something external to utility, then the answer will be yes. For if justice and utility are values dissociated from one another, they can clash.
When they do clash, we will have to face a tough choice, and decide which value we shall sacrifice and which value we shall promote. In short, justice and utility can be at odds with one another only if they are disconnected. So when Rawls reproaches Mill for departing from the precepts of justice in favor of utility, the underlying assumption is that utility and justice are dissociated in Utilitarianism.
But are they really? Justice and utility in Utilitarianism In the penultimate paragraph of Utilitarianism, Mill writes: Thus, to save a life, it may not only be allowable, but a duty, to steal, or take by force, the necessary food or medicine, or to kidnap, and compel to officiate, the only qualified medical practitioner.
In such cases, as we do not call anything justice which is not a virtue, we usually say, not that justice must give way to some other moral principle, but that what is just in ordinary cases is, by reason of that other principle, not just in the particular case. By this useful accommodation of language, the character of indefeasibility attributed to justice is kept up, and we are saved from the necessity of maintaining that there can be laudable injustice8.Mill divided ethical decisions based on utility into 2 groups.
What are they? 1. To act 2. To Rule John Rawls' theory of social justice, the idea of Maximum Rule is a belief that people make choices in order to Exam 1: Chapter 1 - Buber & Kohlberg.
5 terms. Chapter . Start studying Medical Ethics Utilitarianism and Kant, Ross, Rawls, and Natural Law, Virtue ethics, Care Ethics.
Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools. John Rawls (—) John Rawls was arguably the most important political philosopher of the twentieth century.
He wrote a series of highly influential articles in the s and ’60s that helped refocus Anglo-American moral and political philosophy on substantive problems about what we ought to do.
The other predominant school of ethical theory in the twentieth century, intuitionism, is, according to Rawls, equally unsatisfactory. Intuitionism, first developed in the eighteenth century, posits that humans possess an innate, intuitive, sense of justice and morality.
That said, Mill’s theory is no different than from Plato’s theories from his Republic from the BC, or John Rawls’ theories from his Theory of Justice from the ’s. It turns out that while people change, the basic first principle of morality and ethics does not, thus this theory can be understood many ways.
Slavery will be rejected by the theory of ends for much the same reasons that violation of Mill's liberty was rejected: because people need freedom and responsibility to progress, so that when concern is for the welfare of others, as it always is in a utilitarian calculation, .