Positions of philosophers
Having discussed the remaining situation in Western societies
Taylor suggests that actually philosophers could not offer a single set of principles of distributive justice for all societies. In this section Taylor examined Rawls’ Theory of Justice which he described as only applicable for an ideal society which never existed. Rawls’ weakness is ‘trying to establish principles of justice, almost without heeding to historical and cultural variations in the kinds of association we form and goods we seek (even at least among developed societies)’. Further he identified four main families of views about distributive justice in Western society starting from the view that prioritizes right, they are: 1) Lockean atomism principle which focuses on the inalienable right to property; 2) the contribution principle; 3) the family of liberal and social-democratic which justify egalitarian redistribution, and 4) Marxist view which refuse issues of distributive justice altogether, on the grounds that the question of justice is insoluble through such issues and therefore unnecessary in communism.. Rawls’ theory falls somewhere in the third category and this shows that Rawls’ conception of justice actually assumes the tradition of Western modern liberal society that are neutral towards the values of its members.
He further analyzed the fallacy of atomist view which he saw
mistakenly put protection of right as something given. The atomist view does not only ignore to view human beings as socially and historically embedded to a society but also misunderstood what actually should be preserved as the common good of society that is liberty. As the result, there is always inequality among the members of a society as we could see in Rawls’ theory. Having borrowed the atomist view, Rawls has been trapped to force affirmative action as an alternative solution to a society that is viewed from Lockean way.
However Taylor emphasizes that all the families
of views about distributive justice actually corresponds to one dimension of Western (or humankind) social experience. Therefore it is particularly important to consider the historical and social process that certain society has been through. The contemporary society needs to be viewed through various theories in order to get the most suitable principles of distributive justice for certain society. As Taylor sees in contemporary Western society, one need to understand the aspect of republican, sustaining liberty and collaborative enterprise serving private purposes that now serve as the underlying notions of the society. Following Aristotle, Taylor believes there is no such thing as the coherent set of principles of distributive justice for a modern society that should be distressed.
Proposing a republican society
Taylor further proposes a republican society, which many countries in the world are now implementing. As he urged that the equal fulfillment principle and the contribution principle should go along together and based in equality (or much less inequality), this kind of society would be the more suitable form to preserve the principles of distributive justice. In a republican society, a common citizenship requires a certain degree of equality or cannot consist with too great inequalities. He further says that the principle of contribution would also apply appropriately because it is applied based on the more equal balance of mutual indebtedness. In this point Taylor somewhat points to patriotism through which the member of society who has the sense of belonging would give their active participation in governing their society. Hence through the republican society, equality will be raised and maintained based not on the atomist view towards people but on a unity of people that socially and historically share values and identity schemes. In this kind of society, the people define what principles of distributive justice they will apply by referring to the existing values and identity schemes.