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Sociological View of Obama's World of Social Justice

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Tags Philosophy and MethodologyPolitical Theory

11/16/2012Anne Wortham

At first glance the ideal of “fair shares for all” suggests the requirement of a political and economic framework based on Karl Marx's distribution policy of “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” But Obama's conception of fairness is not of classic Marxist origin. As noted, it is more a reflection of philosopher John Rawls' theory of justice and pragmatism's varied perspectives of the self-society relationship. His vision is a version of the altruist-collectivist social contract that Jean Jacques Rousseau proposed as the solution to the problem of constructing a society of freedom divorced from property ownership which he saw as the source of a war of all against all. His thought also includes the Progressive belief, as argued by William Allen White, that the solution to democracy’s problem of unleashed self-interest lies in overcoming the spirit of commercialism with the spirit of sacrifice.

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