Throughout the course of history a number of notable scholars have stepped forward to offer their views on how society should create a utopian existence. Although each of these scholars has been able to address the fundamental issues facing the development of social and economic discourse, subsequent reviews of their work have yielded notable problems and controversies with each proposed theory. As a direct consequence of this process, individuals reading the works of these philosophers are left to their own devices to synthesize the research of these scholars and decide which ideology, when put into practice, would come closest to achieving the desired utopia. While the specific scholar and theory chosen in this situation will be heavily influenced by existing social, economic and political conditions, it is possible to select a theory and provide a salient argument for its development and application to broader social issues.
Utilizing the three theories of economic justice—utilitarianism, libertarian and Rawls' theory on economic justice—as presented by Shaw and Barry (2005), this investigation provides a clear overview of these theories and a justification for employing utilitarian principles to support the economic development of society.
[...] In order to begin this examination, it is first helpful to consider the historical development of affirmative action and the specific problems that have been generated as a direct result of the implementation of this policy. Without a clear understanding of the problems that exist in the context of affirmative action and equal opportunity employment, it will not be possible to adequately address these issues in the context of utilitarian ideologies. A historical review of the development of affirmative action demonstrates that this policy was created as a direct result of the government's desire to create equity with respect to employment. [...]
[...] This is because the specific laws that are put in place under the utilitarian conception of economic justice would seek to maximize happiness on all levels of social discourse. As such, policymakers would be forced to create legislation that would not just maximize happiness, but also ensure that those who cannot attain maximum happiness are at least afforded some degree of satisfaction. Under Rawls' theory of economic justice their must be some degree of social disadvantage. He therefore seems to assume that under a theory that maximizes happiness, there must be an equal amount of pain or burden. [...]
[...] Now that the specific context of the problems associated with affirmative action have been clearly elucidated, it is now possible to consider these issues in the context of the utilitarian views on economic justice. Reviewing the current problems that exist within the context of affirmative action policies, it becomes evident that these policies were initially developed as a means to reduce the income disparities that were quite evident between white and African-American workers. Although research on income disparities as a result of race demonstrate that there are indeed some issues of prejudice involved in the hiring process, research also demonstrates that in many cases African-American applicants do not have the same level of education or experience as white applicants. [...]
[...] Analysis of affirmative action policy utilizing the utilitarian approach to economic justice clearly demonstrate that in order to fully eradicate the economic disparities between whites and minorities fundamental changes to the opportunities that are afforded to individuals in society must be significantly altered. In this investigation, an argument was made for the establishment of equal access to education. By providing all individuals with the same opportunities, only then will it be possible to force affirmative action policies in a manner that does not create reverse discrimination or diminish the impact of the legislation toward improving the economic conditions of minority applicants. [...]
[...] While the basic context of this definition provides a theoretical basis for understanding the utilitarian approach to economic justice, Shaw and Barry are quick to note that the basic framework of utilitarian economic justice does not provide the answer for what specific type of system should be created to maximize happiness for the whole of society. Rather, policymakers and leaders in charge of developing utilitarian policies that favor economic justice must consider the social, economic, and political situation that exists when policy is created. [...]
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