Chapter

Utilitarianism, Justice, and Equality

Ian Malcolm David Little

in Ethics, Economics, and Politics

Published in print October 2002 | ISBN: 9780199257041
Published online August 2004 | e-ISBN: 9780191601293 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199257043.003.0006
 Utilitarianism, Justice, and Equality

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The 1970s saw a wave of attacks on utilitarianism and consequentialism, favouring theories of good government based on contract, whereby what was good followed from what was right, rather than vice versa. There was emphasis on social and distributive justice, seen largely in terms of equality of resources somehow defined, rather than welfare. The various meanings of justice are discussed, and the theories of two leaders of this contractarian movement, namely John Rawls and Ronald Dworkin, are found to be flawed. There are serious difficulties with the measurement of equality (of anything). For this and other reasons, the concept of equality is not an acceptable unifying social end.

Keywords: contract; distributive justice; Dworkin; equality; procedural justice; Rawls; resources; utilitarianism; veil of ignorance

Chapter.  8213 words. 

Subjects: Public Economics

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