Area of Philosophy
Social justice is a part of the area of philosophy called “political philosophy.” This branch of philosophy explores themes related to rights, justice, laws, liberties, and, of course, politics. Another science that touches social justice as a subject is ethics, which deals with the questions of morality, vices, and virtues, justice, and crime.
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To my mind, the two most important principles of justice that should be used to govern within a just society are the selection of highly virtuous state leaders and government representatives to put in charge of the society and the principle of mutual social agreement between people and the state leaders.
Confucius was the supporter of the idea that the leaders of the society must be full of virtue and merit. According to Confucius, this was the main rule to follow in order to provide happiness and wellbeing to society. Moreover, the Chinese philosopher stated that poverty is the result of unreasonably high taxation and poor distribution of state land. Confucian government’s main roles were to provide welfare and economic security to the people. Of course, the idea that this task would be fulfilled assumed that the country leaders were very honest and generous people who cared cordially about the nation’s well being.
Thomas Hobbes was one of the founders of the theory of social agreement, which was the necessary measure to save people from anarchy, antisocial behavior, and decay. The agreement is based on the voluntary refusal of certain rights by the members of a society and freewill surrendering to the power of the leaders. Such organization, according to Hobbes, promotes order and peace. At the same time, society agrees to protect itself from the individuals breaking the rules of social agreement.
Such a system assumes that the majority of members of the society agree to follow the rules; in the opposite case, the system automatically turns into tyranny and can be destroyed as the members of this society are guaranteed the right to rebel.
The theory of Confucius is based on social virtue. Ideally, every member of such a society should possess virtue and merit. Clearly, such a society is a utopia. In reality, the dominant trait of the leaders of most societies and countries is greed; as a result, we have countries drowning in corruption and social injustice. To my mind, theoretically, the selection of highly virtuous leaders for the country would be the key to having just societies. Practically, I consider it hardly possible. Although since I am creating a theoretically perfect society – I am using this principle. The rules of Confucian society, including light taxation and economic security, are crucial for my theoretical society in order to avoid injustice, greed, property conflicts, and poverty.
The social agreement is the basis of obedience in society. Again – in an ideal one, because real societies have proved to be filled with individuals willing to disobey the rules of social agreement. Hobbes saw the social agreement as a mode of social organization opposite to tyranny. On the other hand, tyranny is a form of ruling that gives none or limited free will to the citizens. To check the validity of such a system, we could try to find a free-social agreement zone on the modern map of the world, but we will fail. It turns out that social agreement also can be seen as a form of tyranny as there is no place for the individuals refusing to obey its rules and laws.
Having thought about all the advantages and disadvantages of the principles suggested by Confucius and Thomas Hobbes, I drew some conclusions. Clearly, the society ruled by virtuous and generous leaders is from the field of fairytales, but I think some parts of this idea are quite sound. The proper distribution of land and resources, division of the country’s property in order to financially secure its citizens – these are the ideas that come from the Confucian virtue-based state.
Another important advantage of Confucian virtuous society is its education that spreads the virtues and unites the citizens under the common system of values. Besides, Hobbes’ valid point about the society protecting itself from the individuals that go against the rights of others can be applied to the corrupted leaders, as social agreement disapproves discrimination and unjust taxation. Actually, some supporters of the social agreement theory fully disagree with the idea of taxation.
In a just society, how will taxation be structured?
To my mind, in a just society, taxation is necessary to maintain the proper operation of state facilities and organizations. Tax sizes should be light and depend on the citizen’s income. The taxes should only be spent to support the state facilities, not to maintain the politicians’ wellbeing.
In a just society, how will vices be treated?
In a just society based on virtue, vices such as drugs, alcohol, unhealthy food, or pornography will be treated as cheating. An attempt to distribute poisonous, unhealthy, and destructive goods and make the members of the society dependant on the consumption of these goods will be considered an act against the laws and rules of this society. The citizens affected by the destructive influences of these vies will be offered free help. Virtuous society is educated to not give in to the dangerous dependencies leading to serious health and mental issues.