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What are the principal categories of justice theories? Discuss each briefly.
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Business and Its Environment
Edition: 7th
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The three principal categories of justice theories are (1}  distributive, (1}  compensatory, and (1}  retributive. Distributive justice is concerned with providing incentives to contribute to well-being in society and with providing a fair and just distribution of the rewards of those contributions.
Compensatory justice is concerned with determining how individuals should be compensated for the harm done by others. Retributive justice is concerned with punishment for actions that are contrary to a moral rule or societal well-being. Retributive justice may be used to justify deterring harmful actions.
Distributive justice is concerned with the distribution of the rewards and burdens of social interactions. A distributive standard is necessarily comparative, since it identifies how those rewards and burdens are assigned to individuals with particular attributes or in particular situations. Tax policy, for example, assigns the tax burden based on income, asset holdings, and spending. Distributive justice is concerned with the question of which attributes are relevant for particular matters. The basic comparative principle of distributive justice is that Equals should be treated equally and unequals, unequally.
Distributive justice has a variety of conceptions. Egalitarianism requires the equal distribution of the rewards and burdens of society. This concept is typically rejected because an equal distribution of rewards would distort the incentives to produce those rewards. That is, at some point the more equally a society attempts to divide its pie, the smaller the pie will be. Rawls's theory of justice concerns distributing the rewards and burdens of society in a manner that is fair, yet gives attention to incentives to increase the size of the pie.
Compensatory justice is concerned with whether and how a person should be compensated for an injustice. Compensatory justice has fairness and restitution as its goals. If a person is injured, the institutions of society may be designed to compensate the person. The principal institutions through which compensation for accidents is provided are the liability, workers' compensation, and insurance systems. Compensation serves two objectives. First, it provides restitution for the injury. Second, it provides incentives to reduce injuries and their social costs by imposing the burden on the parties best placed to avoid accidents. If compensation is not well designed, however, it can result in a moral hazard problem that generates social costs by distorting the incentives to avoid accidents. In such a case, the benefits of compensation must be weighed against the distortions of economic incentives the compensation causes.
Because of past injustices from discrimination in hiring and promotion practices, the courts ruled that compensation was owed to minority group members as a class, rather than solely to the identifiable victims of discrimination. Rawls's principle of fair equality of opportunity provides a different justification for this ruling by focusing not on the nature of past injustices but on ensuring that all individuals have fair equality of opportunity. This requires not only the absence of discrimination, but also the fair opportunity for all to qualify for positions and pursue their interests. From this perspective, measures to ensure opportunities are warranted even if they extend beyond the set of actual victims of past discrimination.
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