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The chapter “Justice” for Political Science Class 11 discusses topics like the concept of social justice, what is justice, principles of justice with John Rawl’s theory of justice, just distribution, Plato’s idea of justice, justice as fairness, free markets, and much more.
What does it mean to give each person his/her due? How has the meaning of ‘giving each his due’ changed over time?
Plato discussed the theory of Justice in his famous book ‘The Republic’. Plato explained that Justice does not mean doing good to friends and do evil to enemies. To do evil to anybody, including your enemies is inconsistent with the most elementary conception of morality. Justice involves the well-being of the people. The aim of the ruler is the well-being of the citizens who are committed to his care. Justice means to give each person his/her due. Well-being of the people includes giving each person his due. Even in modern times, ‘giving each his due’ is an important part of Justice. However, what is due to a person has changed from the time of Plato. In the present times, Justice is linked to our understanding of what is due to each person as a human being. According to Kant, human beings possess dignity. Thus, each person should be given an opportunity to develop his abilities so that he can achieve his goal. For what is due to him is that he should be treated as what is in the light of his capacity and his training, while what is due from him is the honest performance of those tasks that the place accorded to him requires.
Briefly discuss the three principles of Justice outlined in the chapter. Explain each with examples.
‘Justice is of most importance in modern democratic state.’ Justice is that in which a man has a well set and disciplined life. There are three basic principle of Justice:
- Equal treatment for equals: One of the basic principle of Justice is equal treatment for equals. As all persons are human beings, all human beings should have equal rights and equal treatment. In democratic countries, generally, the rights that are given to citizens include civil rights such as right to life, equality, liberty, property, etc, and political rights such as right to vote, right to be elected, etc. Citizens should enjoy not only equal rights but they should be treated equally. The State should not discriminate against any citizen on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them. There should be equal wages for equal work for both men and women. If a male doctor working in a civil hospital is getting more salary than a lady doctor working in the civil hospital, then it is unjust.
- Proportionate justice: Proportionate justice is another basic principle of justice. It is not essential that in all types of circumstances everybody should be treated equal. To treat everybody equal can be unjust. For example, in a school if all the students studying in class X are given ninety per cent marks, it would be unfair and unjust. Justice demands that each student should be given marks on the basis of their performance in the exam. Similarly, workers should be given wages on the basis of their nature of work, i.e., quantity of work. Thus, it is fair and just that different kinds of work should be rewarded differently.
- Recognition of special needs: Another basic principle of justice is to give recognition to the special needs of the people. The Indian Constitution provides right to equality to all citizens. However, state can make special provisions for women and children. Moreover, the state can make special provision for the welfare and advancement of any socially or educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes. Arthur Oban says, “Society cannot stop rain, but it does manufacture umbrellas.” In many countries, age and physical disabilities are considered grounds for special treatment.
Does the principle of considering the special needs of people conflict with the principle of equal treatment for all?
In our opinion the principle of considering the special needs of people does not conflict with the principle of equal treatment for all. All individuals are human beings; therefore, they deserve equal rights and equal treatment. However, to promote social justice, it is essential that society should take into account special needs of the people. People with certain disabilities could be considered unequal in some respect and need special help. In many countries, physical disabilities, age or lack of access to good education or health care, etc., are some factors that are considered grounds for special treatments. In India, Schedule Castes are given special privileges.
How does Rawls use the idea of a veil of ignorance to argue that fair and just distribution can be defended on rational grounds?
According to Rawls, Justice is the first virtue
of social institutions, as truth is of systems of thought.
He develops a Contractarian Theory of Justice in the
tradition of Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau. Since for
Rawls, Justice is the foundation of social structure, all
political and legislative decisions must take place
within the limits of the principle of Justice. The
Contractarian concept of Justice is elaborated by
Rawls in the following words: “In justice as fairness
the original position of equality corresponds to the state
of nature in the traditional theory of the social
contract.... It is understood as a purely hypothetical
situation characterised so as lead a certain conception
of Justice. Among the essential features of this
situation is that no one know his place in society, his
class position or social status, nor does any one know
his fortune in the distribution of natural assets and
abilities, his intelligence, strength and the like. I shall
even assume that the parties do not know their
conceptions of the good or their special psychological
propensities. The principles of justice are chosen
behind a veil of ignorance.”
However, it is not easy to erase out our identities and to imagine oneself under a ‘veil of ignorance’. However, the imagined veil of ignorance is the first step in arriving at a system of fair laws and policies.
What are generally considered to be the basic minimum requirements of people for living a healthy and productive life? What is the responsibility of governments in trying to ensure this minimum to all?
For living a healthy and productive life, minimum requirements of people must be fulfilled. The minimum requirements of people are food, clothes and house. A just society should provide people with basic necessities of life so that they live a healthy and secure life. People should get clean drinking water, basic health facilities and basic education. People should get work, minimum wages for living and good working conditions. It is the responsibility of the government to fulfil the basic needs of the people. The government should endeavour to secure a living wage and decent conditions of work so as to ensure to the workers sufficient leisure and enjoyment of social and cultural opportunities. The government should provide effective provision for securing the right to work, to education and the public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness, disability and of undeserved want to provide just and humane conditions of work.
Which of the following arguments could be used to justify state action to provide basic minimum conditions of life to all the citizens?
- Providing free services to the poor and needy can be justified as an act of charity.
- Providing all citizens with a basic minimum standard of living is one way of ensuring equality of opportunity.
- Some people are naturally lazy and we should be kind to them.
- Ensuring basic facilities and a minimum standard of living to all is a recognition of our shared humanity and a human right.
- Providing free services to the poor and needy can be justified as state action to provide basic minimum conditions of life to all the citizens.
- By providing all the citizens with a basic minimum standard of living, state action is justified in providing basic minimum conditions of life to all the citizens.
- It is not a correct argument.
- It is a correct argument.