Rawls, responsibility, and distributive justice

The theory of justice pioneered by John Rawls explores a simple idea--that the concern of distributive justice is to compensate individuals for misfortune. Some people are blessed with good luck, some are cursed with bad luck, and it is the responsibility of society--all of us regarded collectively--to alter the distribution of goods and evils that arises from the jumble of lotteries that constitutes human life as we know it. Some are lucky to be born wealthy, or into a favorable socializing environment, or with a tendency to be charming and intelligent and persevering and the like. These people are likely to be successful in the economic marketplace and to achieve success in other important ways over the course of their lives. On the other hand some people are, as we say, born to lose. Distributive justice stipulates that the lucky should transfer some or all of their gains due to luck to the unlucky.
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