PHILOSOPHY: ETHICS One of the most pressing ethical problems of our day concerns economic justice. As...


One of the most pressing ethical problems of our day concerns economic justice. As our society becomes increasingly stratified economically questions arise concerning genuine opportunity for those born into less advantageous economic conditions. In particular, some worry that the United States is no longer a place of genuine upward mobility. Whether or not this is so, however, others argue that not all questions of justice concern equality and opportunity. Instead, some maintain that as long as one comes by their holdings in a just manner they are entitled to what they have regardless of how little others may possess. In philosophical terminology this contrast is often put as difference between end state and process theories of distributive.


1) Gives some examples of the problems of current economic distribution; 2) Lays out the positions of Nozick and Rawls as examples of the contrast between end state and process conceptions of distributive justice; 3) Shows how Nozick uses the Wilt Chamberlin example to argue for his preferred position; 4) Gives Rawls’ two principles of justice, shows how they relate to the veil of ignorance, and how one of them relates to equality of opportunity; and, finally, 5) Weighs in on the overall issue by arguing for what the proper view should be in regards to how money is distributed in current American society.

Homework Answers

Answer #1
  1. Recent researches and studies have repeatedly reported the inequality and unequal distribution in the American society. The observed shifts in income distribution underlie the much-discussed shrinking of the American middle class. Globalization could be an essential cause for this. The income in hands of few who have invested more in careers, have been born rich, etc are some factors that tend to affect the way the distribution would look. On a larger level the shrinking of economies is due to these various changes such as globalization and digitalization to say the least. The inequality thus shows in the manner that household statistics operate today.
  2. Nozick and Rawls have differing viewpoints from the outlook of political science. Nozick emphasizes the priority of individual rights; whereas Rawls takes a moderate stance neither focusing on inequality nor on individual rights. Nozick believes that it is immoral for a nation to take away the wealth from rich and attempt to decentralise it. To Rawls however the moral fabric of a political community is justice. A just society, according to him, operates under the maximum, equal rights for all. This means that every action taken by authorities within a nation must be centred around provision of justice to all. Rawls believes that a distributive pattern that obeys the principle is just.
  3. Nozick quotes: Wilt Chamberlain is greatly in demand by basketball teams, being a great gate attraction. He signs the following sort of contract with a team: In each home game twenty-five cents from the price of each ticket of admission goes to him. Let us suppose that in one season one million persons attend his home games, and Wilt Chamberlain ends up with $250,000, a much larger sum than the average income and larger even than anyone else has. Is he entitled to his income? Is this new distribution D2 unjust?” He establishes this example to express his opinion with regard to the philosophical question related to income in a nation. He poses that it is okay if someone ends up earning more by sheer luck or their personal investments, career paths and individual choices. It does not pose an ethical concern and does not bring with it the implicit expectation of equal distribution since it is the due of the party involved.
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