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Justitium vs. Justitia: A Debate Between Rawls and Sen

The concept of justice is a matter of apprehension from the antiquity. It was John Rawls who all the way through his enduring dedication introduced the mainstream theory of justice in a radical manner. He was vocal against the classical utilitarianism. Utilitarianism, Rawls opines, cannot offer a satisfactory account of basic rights and liberties of citizens as free and equal persons. It allows unacceptable trade-off among persons. With the influence of Kant’s deontological approach, Rawls offers the idea of justice as justitium. Noble-laureate Prof. Amartya Sen is indebted to Rawls while developing his contemporary idea of justice. He brings a new interpretation of justice that goes against Rawls. Rawls’ idea justitium is rule-based and deontological in nature, whereas Sen’s idea of justitia is consequential in nature. Rawls developed his idea of justice by invoking deontological approach of morality whereas Sen develops his idea of justice by invoking consequential approach of morality. Thus, the debate between Rawls and Sen is fascinating. They not only develop two polar concepts of justice but equally take support from two classical theories of morality, such as, deontological and consequential approaches of morality.

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