John Rawls’ Philosophy of Liberalism: Strengths and Weaknesses Essay

October 14, 2020 by Essay Writer


John Rawls have developed a comprehensive theory that can be useful in addressing contemporary issues. One of the major advantages of his theory is that it contains major principles that can be applicable nowadays.

Rawls’ philosophy can be used when addressing the contemporary issues associated with unequal distribution of resources.

It is also necessary to note that Rawls’ philosophy of liberalism is based on principles of justice, but there are still certain weaknesses in the theory.

Strengths of Rawls’ Philosophy

As has been mentioned above the philosophy can have specific implications in the contemporary society. The major strength of the philosophy is that it provides people with a specific tool to avoid any bias.

The “veil of ignorance” is an effective way to develop certain principles to govern a society (Shaw & Barry, 2012). Thus, people will never create an authoritarian society as the odds to be in the unfavorable position are too high.

Thanks to the veil of ignorance, people will try to create the society where the less well-to-do people will have all possible rights.

Apart from rights, these groups of people will have numerous opportunities, which will secure realization of potential of the most active and gifted people.

Admittedly, the present philosophy can become a good solution to the existing issues associated with unequal distribution of resources. Now less well-to-do people have few opportunities compared to more well-to-do groups.

Notably, this is one of the major issues associated with unequal distribution of resources which leads to gradual degradation as only restricted number of innovation occurs. Rawls’ philosophy addresses the problem of the lack of opportunities.

Another strength of the philosophy is that it does not ignore inequality which is a characteristic feature of the human society. On the contrary, Rawls justifies it and even proves that inequality is one of the factors contributing to development of the human society.

Rawls develops a model of society where the least well-to-do groups will have more resources, rights and opportunities than those in an imaginary society where all are equal.

Therefore, there is no need in trying to diminish inequality, which is simply impossible. According to Rawls’ philosophy, people can focus on creating a society where inequality is a tool of development.

The Major Weakness of Rawls’ Philosophy

As has been mentioned above, there is certain weakness in the philosophy. Thus, there are quite few tools to maintain the new order. According to Rawls’s philosophy, equality is impossible as people are ‘victims’ of a “genetic lottery” (Shaw & Barry, 2012, p. 126).

Some people will inevitably accumulate more resources and there is no guarantee that these people will remain following the principles worked out. More well-to-do-people can deprive less well-to-do people of their rights and, more importantly, opportunities.


It is possible to note that Rawls’ philosophy can be applicable in the contemporary world as it addresses major issues associated with unequal distribution of resources. Justification of inequality can be regarded as one of the major strengths of the philosophy.

At the same time, the absence of tools to maintain the created society is one of its major weaknesses. Of course, the philosophy has strengths and weaknesses, but it is important to note that it is a valuable source of knowledge that can be used to address major issues associated with unequal distribution of resources in the contemporary world, which leads to certain degradation of the human society.

Reference List

Shaw, W.H. & Barry, V. (2012). Moral issues in business. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing.

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