Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 10 credits / 15 HE credits
This thesis aims to provide an insight into the political-philosophical discussion of justice and equality. By comparing three theories of justice the author aims to highlight similarities and differences between them in an attempt to deduce which theory is most inclusive in its approach.
The three theories subjected to analysis are John Rawls Theory of Justice in which he argues for a fair and equal distribution of primary social goods, Amartya Sen’s Social Choice Theory where peoples capability and functions form it's heart and what is preferably argued to be equally distributed, and Nancy Fraser’s Post-Westphalian democratic Justice in where she emphasizes the importance of cultural recognition and equal political and democratic participation to alter an all-encompassing theory of justice.
The author concludes after a thorough analysis that the three theories all share common ground in that socio-economic inequality affects people's ability to live a good life. What they all disagree on was whether, when and where to intervene in order to equalize the greatest injustice. Both Rawls and Fraser argue that social institutions play a crucial role in how justice can be achieved or maintained. Instead for Sen, it is looking at the de facto real injustices and, based on the facts that are available and by social choice, to agree on an equitable principle in order to be able to find solutions to the situation.
A strong emphasis is placed on whether the cultural aspects of justice are addressed by the respective theories. The analysis reveals that the theories of distributive justice have not been able to address the problem of including both cultural recognition and socioeconomic distribution in an all-encompassing theory properly. This can be found both in John Rawls' theory, in which he chooses to include self-respect in order to capture aspects of cultural factors, as well as in Nancy Fraser's perspective of re-distribution and recognition. Although Nancy Fraser's theory very accurately describes the seriousness and importance of including a nuanced view of the problem of cultural recognition, she tends to fail to provide suggestions on how to solve the "re-distribution - recognition" dilemma - which is certainly not an easy task to solve.
Sen, however, manages to capture both cultural and socio-economic inequality in his social choice theory. To what extent people have opportunity to use their abilities is largely influenced by the social context in which they live. Therefore it is of utter importance to strengthen people’s capacity and capabilities to a level where they are able to transfer the resources they have at their disposal to functions. The author comes to the conclusion of the theories subjected to analysis, that Amartya Sen's social choice theory is the most all-encompassing.
2014. , 32 p.