Justice as Fairness in a Broken World


Authors
Marcus Arvan
University of Tampa
Abstract
In Ethics for a Broken World : Imagining Philosophy after Catastrophe, Tim Mulgan applies a number of influential moral and political theories to a “broken world ”: a world of environmental catastrophe in which resources are insufficient to meet everyone’s basic needs. This paper shows that John Rawls’ conception of justice as fairness has very different implications for a broken world than Mulgan suggests it does. §1 briefly summarizes Rawls’ conception of justice, including how Rawls uses a hypothetical model – the “original position” – to argue for principles of justice. §2 explains how Mulgan uses a variation of Rawls’ original position – a broken original position – to argue that justice as fairness requires a “fair survival lottery” in a broken world. §3 shows that the parties to a broken original position have reasons not to agree to such a survival lottery. §4 then shows that Mulgan’s argument hangs upon a false assumption: that there are no viable options to adopt in a broken world besides some kind of survival lottery. Finally, §5 shows that the parties to a broken original position would instead rationally agree to a scheme of equal rights and opportunities to earn or forfeit shares of scarce resources on the basis of each person’s comparative contribution to human survival.
Keywords justice  fairness  morality  nonideal  climate change
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