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Teorie della giustizia e politiche pubbliche

Theories of Justice and Public Policies

Anno XXIII, n. 103, ottobre-dicembre 1988
Centro Einaudi


Abstract disponibile solo in lingua inglese

The aim of this paper is to find a method of assessing public policies, not merely by following an empirical analysis of decision-making and operative processes but also by including an analysis of the possible purposes of the various public policies, especially that of social justice. The author proposes the use of a methodology (the individualistic methodology of rational analysis—which would seem quite useful for "bringing order" into the language of social justice) and then applies it to a theory of justice, Walzer's pluralism of the spheres of justice, which intuitively appears rather attractive from an ethical point of view.
By individualistic methodology of rational analysis is meant the adoption of a position requiring an assessment of different hypotheses of social justice from the point of view of individuals in a scarcity context and with a background that is varied and differentiated in its scope. The proposal is to test the various theories of justice against the litmus of individual rationality and find out, in each case, which specific preferences the different principles tend to protect or disadvantage. By rationality is formally meant the assumption of coherence in the order of individuals and, at a practical level, the assessment of the most favourable relationship between means and ends.
A critical reconstruction of Walzer's theories leads the author to conclude that their limits lie in a lack of specification—on the one hand, of the policy process and with it of the type of admissible ethical indetermination and, on the other hand, of the position occupied by the various distributive principles in force in the individual spheres. That is, it lies in the fact that structural links capable of suitably connecting dialogue processes and the sharing of the principles of justice have not been established.
A possible solution might be that of adopting an impartial approach capable of bearing in mind both moral preferences and those relating to well-being. More specifically, ignoring the particular conditions of entry and permanence in society and taking into account the specific characteristics of the historical world in which we live as well as our historical heritage, it would be a question of the discussion of sets of rights and of the evaluation of collective/efficiency utility that are most suitable for defending the fundamental parameter of self-respect. The result should be that of unanimously identifying basic criteria capable of guiding policy processes in the post-constitutional phase.