An introduction to the ethical approach to justice that includes a discussion of the desert, distributive justice, retributive justice, and compensatory justice. Secondly, they must benefit the most disadvantaged members of society (the principle of difference). This second principle focused on equality. Rawls realized that a society could not avoid inequalities among its inhabitants.
Inequalities are the result of factors such as inherited characteristics, social class, personal motivation, and even luck. Even so, Rawls insisted that a just society should find ways to reduce inequalities in areas where it can act. He took an old idea, thought of a new way to use it and set out principles for a just society. The most controversial part of Rawls's theory of justice centered on his Principle of Difference, the idea that the greatest benefit should go to the least favored.
When people disagree about what they think should be given, or when decisions must be made about how benefits and burdens should be distributed among a group of people, questions of justice or fairness inevitably arise. In fact, most ethicists today argue that it wouldn't make sense to talk about justice or equity if it weren't for the conflicts of interest that arise when goods and services are scarce and people disagree about who should receive what. To be safe, Rawls said, members of the imaginary group with rational thinking would choose the principles of justice that would most benefit those at the bottom. The people who participated in this mental exercise had to choose their principles of justice under a veil of ignorance.
The first part of the Second Principle (just equal opportunities) takes precedence over the second part (Principle of Difference). Similarly, Rawls believed that the people in his experiment would rationally choose the principles of social justice that would maximize benefits for the disadvantaged. Later, when he wrote A Theory of Justice, he used the phrase “disadvantaged members of society” to refer to those at the bottom of the economic ladder. The task of the imaginary members of the group under the veil of ignorance was to choose a system of principles for their own society.
Since he first published A Theory of Justice, he changed the wording of these principles several times. Sometimes it may be necessary to override the principles of justice in favor of other types of moral claims, such as rights or the welfare of society. They would have to rely solely on the human powers of reason to choose the principles of social justice for their society.