Theories of Social Justice

Topics: Socialism, Third World, Communism Pages: 16 (5953 words) Published: October 21, 2013


In order to begin to understand and analyze Dr. Peffer’s Theory of Social Justice, we want to first look at the five main principles. These principles are a Modified look at John Rawls’s “Two Principles” of Social Justice (1971). These five modified principles include The Basic Rights Principle, The Maximum Equal Basic Liberties Principle, The Fair Equality of Opportunity Principle, The Modified Difference Principle, The Social and Economic Democracy Principle.

First of all, The Basic Rights Principle addresses the very fundamental issues of Security and Subsistence Rights. The Security Rights are described as the institutional responsibility to uphold the physical integrity and protection against threats such as murder torture. Psychological threats are also included which I believe is a great and underestimated point since that is often the more detrimental kind of abuse. The concept of Psychological threats is very hard to apply internationally due to the fact that proof of harm becomes completely subjective. This subjective nature makes it hard to be universally applied. In terms of these states and societal groups not engaging in these ‘extra-juridical’ activities, I cannot say I fully agree. I believe that in certain circumstances where the Security Rights of one person who is has violated that of others, can and should be sacrificed to ensure the security rights of others. A common example would be the interrogation of a known suspect with information pertaining to mass violation of Security Rights (i.e. serial killers and terrorists). In this example I believe it to be perfectly acceptable to carry out whatever is needed (whether that is physical or psychological torture) to prevent the malicious act of others willing to disregard another’s Security Rights. For this reason I believe that each and every person deserves this Security Right until they negatively affect, directly or indirectly, that of another person. The second Basic Right addressed is referred to as Subsistence Rights, which outlines the guarantee of a certain range of resources, required by human beings to function with minimal levels of health and education. As a method of fulfillment, this principle says, “Every able adult is expected – or at least strongly encouraged – to exert some effort towards meeting these goals”. I completely agree that within a community, if a person is putting in decent effort to maintain their livelihood, they should be aided in order to meet the basic necessities such as food, water and shelter. However I do not think that help should be given to those who participate in harmful or self-destructive behavior. For example, if a person receiving aid continues to misuse it to fulfill something as a drug addiction or any other activity that may affect the wellbeing of others, they should lose their right to any outside aid. I also disagree that one society/country should be obligated to aid another in need. While I obviously think this is the right thing to do, I could never call it a requirement to aid another just because you have more than them at this moment in time. Societies are constantly cycling in prosperity and if giving up extra resources to help another in a time of need means that you sacrifice the security of your descendants, you should first protect your own. This is already natural for all humans. This goes along with a statement later in the Subsistence Rights, which talks about earth’s resources that, “must be preserved such that future generations can also meet their basic needs”. I agree with this section completely because if we are talking as general as the human species, evolution and generational survival becomes most important idea and if we exhaust all resources to satisfy those struggling to survive, we may be stretching our resources too thin and destroying quality of life for our sons and grandsons.

The second of Dr. Peffer’s Principles, The Maximum Equal Basic Liberties Principle,...
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