Analysis of the Arguments
Taken from Aristotle, Taylor sees distributive justice
as a virtue whose opposite is pleonexia: grasping more than one’s share. Based on this, we could have the basis for knowing ‘what our share is’ and ‘when we are being grasping’. According to Taylor, the disagreements in the debate are about 1) the nature of the framework: considerations about the goods sought and the nature of the agents associated that could help us to see whether certain distributions are wrong; and 2) the balance of mutual indebtedness which justify some distributions within the framework and rule out others. Taylor puts forward the second argument as the one that concerns mostly to distributive justice for this helps us maintain distributive justice without subverting the good or the very basis of our association.
Moreover because the framework questions and the criteria of distribution are derived at least in part from the nature of association and that of the goods sought in common, therefore the demands of distributive justice can and will differ across different societies and at different moments in history. Crucial to remember that ‘to try to make a society more distributively just is to try to make it conform more to the constitutive understanding shared in its membership. To try to make a society absolutely just (as libertarian advocated), or to bring it closer to absolute justice (as Rawls proposed), or some other good, may well be to subvert and destroy the constitutive understandings.
Issues of Distributive Justice Today
Remaining situation in Western societies and rest of the World
In the following section, Taylor elaborates how the Western societies were very accustomed to the equality principle of distributive justice and in so doing forgetting that they have been socially and historically embedded during a long period to have such a strong constitutive understanding to apply that principle. They have forgotten that initially they have been processed to share their different identities and values and formulate their values and identity schemes. As an industrialized society, Westerners are grown up in consumerism in which they have tended to be private-oriented. This tendency has influenced the emergence of liberalism that suggested atomist view of man and therefore put forward preserving right and property as common good that should be preserved and therefore the notion of fairness as suggested by Rawls arose in contemporary Western political thought. Furthermore, Taylor argued that the Lockean view is no longer appropriate for modern society moreover in the current situation where interdependency has made atomist view of man almost impossible.
Despite this situation, Taylor offered a new perspective
on people which is seen as human being that is the possessor of property in liberalism with his own capacities and goals. By viewing human beings as such, the aims of association would not so much be about the protection of property but the combination of our capacities which allows each of us to be much more productive that we would be alone’. Taylor emphasizes this view because he is not an adherent of the Lockean view of community. He subscribes to a conception of community as a site of common deliberation rather than to a community of Lockean ends of community (e.g. preserving rights).
Therefore he puts forward two principles of distributive justice:
the equal fulfillment and the distribution principles. The equal fulfillment principle is the principle of the equality of fulfilling society’s aims for each member. The principle is able and necessary to be applied because each member of society would be encouraged to pull together his own useful capacities in the society and would receive a greater share of the resultant product. Related to the above principle, Taylor further argues for another principle of distributive justice that is contribution principle, which is now common to many societies. This principle, which could be understood as distribution of income among the members of society, is also made possible by bearing in mind that justice is distributive in nature for all the members and people is fundamentally zoon politikon. This also means distribution principle is made possible by bearing in mind the achievement of common goals of the association. By viewing distribution principle in such a way, he argues that this principle would not cause injustice for both who have higher capacities and who have the smaller ones. If the underlying notion of this principle is maximizing and incorporating the potentials of members of society, it would minimize such grievances. Western society has survived in applying this principle only because they have been successful to accelerate growth after World War II. If the situation were not conducive, the contribution principle could result in the situation that has been taken by Marxism to initiate how to eliminate such grievances, for example.