Equality and Justice – Part 2

Originally written in November 2012

Read Part 1

Say for example, person A is more endowed mentally (more intelligent) than person B. Person B is more endowed physically than person A. In their world jobs involving intelligence are rewarded highly than jobs involving physical strength. Therefore, A makes more money than B.

But B being physically strong can beat A and snatch his money if he wishes so. In the state of nature that’s exactly what would happen. If B is strong enough to physically defeat A then why would he let A enjoy more benefits/well-being himself remaining poor? Most people would answer: Because we don’t live in the state of nature but in a civilized society.

To me that answer by itself is not sufficient because it takes for granted the civilized society.

In part 1, I said that it is fair when someone who is naturally endowed with more (physical and mental) potential enjoys higher benefits/well-being than those he is superior to. This logic seemed perfectly fair with the example I cited there. In this case the difference is, instead of one person being both physically and mentally more endowed than the other, one is mentally more endowed and the other is physically more endowed. The same logic, however, can be applied in that the one whose aggregate endowment (physical + mental) is higher than the other should prevail. That is just/fair at least in the state of nature.

Most people would say that in the civilized society we can’t allow B to take A’s money by force.

Why? I would ask.

Note that I am trying to explain justice (and understand it myself too) from a scratch. In this analysis everything has to be accounted for. Nothing is to be taken for granted.

Civilized society is not God-given. At some point in time we lived in the state of nature and through thousands of years the society has evolved to its present state. If in the state of nature B would have prevailed over A (on account of his higher aggregate endowment) by physically defeating A, then why in the civilized society (hereafter called society) should he not attack A?

Some would say that the society is a mutual agreement, or an implied contract, for peaceful life of higher well-being. And living by the code is to everybody’s benefit.

Really? But B apparently doesn’t benefit. By not taking A’s money by force while he can, B would remain poor while A would be rich. B would feel unfulfilled and sad. The only way for B to up his well-being is by taking A’s money forcefully. Why shouldn’t he do so when he is very well capable of doing it?

If we don’t take for granted the conditions of the society, a careful analysis should reveal that in order to keep B from attacking A, the society has to create incentives for B to not attack A while he can. The society would have to offer B something to keep him from attacking A for his wealth.

This incentivised state would be the state of justice in the society.

To be continued…


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