Economists (Below) Distributive justice takes many forms. People write about
principles, but there are
no really pure
Most countries and cultures use multiple principles.
- Altruism is being unselfishly devoted to the welfare of others.
- Examples: Giving to others without concern about returns to
distributive justice is when each person contributes according to ability
and each person receives according to need.
- Examples: The idea is expressed by Marx and Engels in the
The former Soviet Union, Cuba, North Vietnam, and Maoist China worked
toward this ideal, but conform more to the definition of state socialist
conservatism is the George W. Bush Administration approach. Also see Marvin
Olasky, Compassionate Conservatism: What it is, What it Does, and How
it Can Transform America (2000).
- Corporate capitalism gives large multinational corporations (MNC)
control of markets. Control is achieved through market share,
sometimes called "Winner-Take-All
Markets." In addition political
influence, subsidies, tax breaks, and corruption are mechanisms used
by large corporations to
gain market share.
- Examples: The comparison of corporation revenues with the GDP
of nations. Most MNCs
are found in the United States, Japan, and Western Europe.
Also look at the winner-take-all society.
Democratic socialist, also known as welfare democracy, distributive
justice has a system of social insurance to help people who are
disadvantaged. It incorporates free-market principles in producing
goods and services with general principles about compassion and concern
for others. Some economic sectors like health care, transportation,
aerospace, energy distribution may be government owned or controlled
(Scupin, Cultural Anthropology, 1998:247).
- Examples: European democratic socialist
countries like Denmark, Sweden, The Netherlands. Japan is another
example. For a non-governmental model see the Mondragon Cooperatives
For more on socialism.
- Egalitarian pluralism distributive justice is when everyone has a say in
decisions and no person feels they will be injured by choices made by the
- Examples: foragers like the Tasaday, San, Yahi. The
Gabra and Weyewa in the film, A Poor Man Shames Us All,
too, illustrate wealth leveling, egalitarian principles. Proposed by
some as a future world order. The writings of John
Rawls, A Theory of Justice
(1971) discusses this approach to distributive justice.
- Laissez-faire capitalist distributive justice is
when people, businesses, and corporations act based on their
individual self-interest for
own benefit. The primary role of government is to allow a free and
fair market system, as well as to protect individuals,
from having the benefits of their actions appropriated by others.
- Examples: the ideals of the founders of the U.S.
Constitution, particularly Thomas Jefferson. Most closely approximated
in 19th Century America. See the writings of Adam Smith and Ayn
Rand. For a discussion of capitalism.
- Libertarian distributive justice is
where each person is responsible for their own future no matter what
happens. Heavy emphasis is given to free-market principles and
protection of property rights.
- Examples: emerging markets, economic globalization, free trade,
conservative and libertarian politics in the United States. See
Charles Murray, What It Means to be a Libertarian (1997) and Robert
Nozick, Anarchy, State, and Utopia (1974). For positions of
the Libertarian Party.
- Pareto optimality is choosing the greatest good, but
what society choses should not make any person worse off.
- Examples: Very similar to egalitarian pluralism. The test
of no one feeling injured would assure that no person is made worse off,
at least not by choice. See Vilfredo Pareto, Cours d'Economie
Politique (1897). This also matches Buddhist philosophy about
individual gain being acceptable if the reasons for trying to amass it
- State or national capitalist distributive justice
when government operates the nation's industries to maximize
- Examples: Brazil from after World War II and through the
1970s. Singapore, China, and Russia are current examples. See State
Captialism, The Economist, Special Report, January 21, 2012.
- State socialist distributive justice is a
system where the government or a central authority controls the
production of goods and services.
- Examples: The former Soviet Union from 1918 to 1989 practiced
state socialism. The socialist nations of Central Europe under
communism. See the book What Was Socialism and What
Comes Next? India from independence from the British in 1947 to the
1990s illustrated this system.
- Structured inequality is where social goals structure
benefits for one group over another.
- Examples include discrimination against groups through apartheid,
caste, colonialism, imperialism, discrimination. Structured
inequality can also be used to help specific groups such as
reducing poverty among the elderly through Social
Security in the United States.
Affirmative action, tax preferences for families, and anti-discrimination
clauses are other example.
capitalism a popularized variant of laissez-faire capitalism in which
speed, creativity, and productivity amass maximum short-term
profits. Turbo capitalists move quickly into an industry and capture
maximum profit and
leave. They purchase a company and extract as much value as possible and
- Examples: The corporate buyouts of the 1990s in the United
States. The dot.com bubble that burst after March 2000. Enron, Global
Crossing, WorldCom, Tyco. See Turbo Capitalism: Winners and Losers
in the Global Economy by Edward Luttwak,
reviewed in Business Week March March 29, 1999, New
Internationalist, March 2001 (Volume 343).
- Utilitarianism is the majority chooses what will produce the
greatest good for the greatest number of people.
- Democratic decision making would meet this criteria.
Utilitarianism is the philosophic basis of benefit-cost analysis. If the
benefits exceed the costs, the assumption is that the project does the
greatest good for the greatest number. Jeremy Bentham
defined utilitarianism in the 19th century.
socialist distributive justice is when members of a community put the
means of production in collective decision making structure.
- Examples: Robert Owen's community at New Lanmark,
Updated:Saturday, 28-Jan-2012 20:26:52 PST
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