John Rawls on Difference Principle - Dictionary of Arguments
Difference principle/theory of justice as fairness/Rawls: the difference principle eliminates the uncertainty of the efficiency principle (>Efficiency/Rawls, Pareto-Optimum/Rawls) by defining a position from which the social and economic inequalities of the basic structure ((s) of a society to be built) can be assessed. Assuming the institutional framework of Liberal equality (see Equality/Rawls) and fairness of opportunity, the expectations of the better-offs are fair if and only if they are part of a scheme that improves the expectations of the most disadvantaged members.
The difference principle states that equal distribution of goods is preferable, as long as a different distribution does not favour both sides (better and worse) at the same time.
RawlsVsUtilitarianism: Classical utilitarianism is indifferent to how a constant sum of benefits is distributed. It only calls for equality up to a certain threshold.
Difference Principle/Special Cases/Rawls:
1. Special Case: If the expectation of the worst-off person cannot be improved, no change in the income situation of a better-off person can bring about an improvement in the situation of the worse-off person.
2. Special case: occurs when the expectations of all those who are better off at least contribute to the prosperity of those who are worse off. This means that when their expectations fall, those of the less well-off fall as well. However, the maximum has not yet been reached.
Inequality/Rawls: how unfair a (distribution) scheme is depends on how excessive the expectations of the better-offs are and to what extent they depend on violations of the other principles of justice and fair equal opportunities.
Difference principle/Rawls: is a maximization principle. We must make a strict distinction between cases where it works and cases where it does not (see Special Cases 1 and 2 above).
The difference principle is compatible with the principle of efficiency.
Democracy/Rawls: a democratic constitution is not consistent with the efficiency principle alone, if it is understood in such a way that only changes that improve the situation of all people are allowed. Reason: Justice...
...requires some changes that are not efficient in this sense.
Difference principle/justice: since the distribution in an initial state can never be exactly determined, it does not play a decisive role if the difference principle is applied.
Chain connection/prosperity/company/Rawls: we assume a chain connection, i. e. if the expectation of the worst-offs is raised by a measure, then this will also apply to all positions between these and the best placed persons. However, if there are breakages, those who are in such a position have no right of veto against the improvements for those who are worse off.
Difference principle/Rawls: does not depend on contingent actual deviations from the chain connection, which rarely works perfectly anyway.
Problem: we assume close-kitness of the chain connection, but in many cases an improvement of the better-offs may have no effect at all on the situation of the worse-off. More entries on >Difference principle._____________Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
A Theory of Justice: Original Edition Oxford 2005