Justice in a Market Economy

Justice in a Market Economy

Robert A. Schultz (Woodbury University, USA)
Copyright: © 2006 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-779-9.ch005
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As we saw from the last two chapters, the ethical IT professional is embedded in contexts of management, organization, and society. Ethical behavior for the IT professional is, therefore, impacted by the ethics of people and institutions in his or her environment. The primary term for ethical institutions is justice.1 In the next three chapters, we will examine the justice of institutions impacting the IT professional. The framework used will be that provided by the works of John Rawls (1999, 2001). Rawls’ work is based on the idea of a social contract, that a justly ordered society is one to which individuals can freely decide to obligate themselves. But our decision will very likely be biased if we base it on our current situation. So Rawls’ major addition is to say that the decision must be made prior to being in society, without knowledge of what our position will be in society, and it will be a decision we will be obligated to stick to and expect others to make and stick to as well. The basic principles for society chosen in this position (which Rawls calls the original position) will be the Principles of Justice. According to Rawls (1999, 2001), there will be two: 1. The First Principle of Justice or Greatest Equal Liberty: Society is to be arranged so that all members have the greatest equal liberty possible for all, including fair equality of opportunity. Each individual has basic liberties which are not to be compromised or traded off for other benefits. Besides the basic freedoms such as freedom of speech, assembly, religion, and so on, it includes equality of opportunity. Thus society’s rules are not biased against anyone in it and allow all to pursue their interests and realize their abilities. 2. The Second Principle of Justice or the Difference Principle: Economic inequalities in society are justified insofar as they make members of the least advantaged social class, better off than if there were no inequality. The social contract basis for this principle is straightforward: If you are entering a society with no knowledge of your specific place in that society, the Difference Principle guarantees that you will be no worse off than you need to be to keep the society functioning.

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