This task force gives students the responsibility of choosing and designing the basic principles of justice that will guide the design of a new society.

Distribution: Justice Game Task Force


You have been appointed by someone to bargain on their behalf concerning the basic principles of justice that will guide the design of a new society that they have been forced to enter. You have to come up with a principle of distributive justice which your client will live under. You know nothing of your client’s talents, abilities, gender, religious views, sexual orientation etc. You will have to explain your choice to your client when you find out who he or she is. 

Note: a prior bargaining situation has already agreed that basic liberties—freedom of conscience, religion, expression, association, and the rights to participate in public and political life, as well as the liberties associated with the psychological and physical integrity of the person — must be guaranteed to all, so you need not worry about violations of people’s basic liberties.

The principles you choose will govern your client’s entire life, and he/she will not be able to escape.

  1. Laissez Faire: Markets will operate without government intervention, except to protect private property.
  2. Equality of Resources: People will have roughly equal shares of resources available to them over their full lives. “Resources” do not just include money, but also leisure (so, for example, someone who works 40 hour weeks will get more money, but less leisure, than someone who works a 30 hour week, but they may get the same resources nevertheless).
  3. Sufficiency: Everyone will have a `basic needs’ safety net guaranteed. Above that level, markets will determine rewards, except as the democratically elected legislature chooses to constrain them. If you select this principle, be prepared to explain what counts as basic needs. You can interpret “basic” however you like, as long as you explain why.
  4. Maximin: Inequalities of resources will be arranged so that the least advantaged will be better off than they would be under any other arrangement.
  5. Equality of Welfare: Resources will be distributed so that everyone is more or less equally happy over the course of their lives.
  6. You may, if you choose, formulate a compromise between these principles, or formulate an entirely different principle. If so, it must be precise and you must be prepared to defend it to your client.