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A Study of The Justice Concept in Relation to The Marxist and Utilitarian's Philosophies

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Table of contents

  1. Philosophy and Justice
  2. Utilitarianism
  3. Conclusion

Philosophy and Justice

For many centuries mankind has put forth their ideas of what a just society would look like. There is a lot that goes with the question what makes a just society. Can a democracy have a just society. Can a communist nation have a just society? Can a monarchy have a just society? Regardless of the type of nation a society has, there is some sort of philosophy on how justice should work in that society.

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Utilitarianism is “the theory that an action is right if it seeks to promote the greatest amount of happiness in the world at large” (Mitchell, 2015, p. 402) The Utilitarianism philosophers will ask the question “What is most useful, or utilitarian?” (Mitchell, 2015, p. 402) and they will answer the question saying “more pleasure and less pain for the greatest number of people.” (Mitchell, 2015, p. 402) With utilitarianism, the phrase “be careful what you wish for” may be taken to a whole new level. For example if utilitarian ideas became laws, there could be a law that would force people to donate blood. If there was a high need for your blood type all of a sudden, and a quart of your blood could save thousands, then the utilitarian law of doing what best for the greatest amount of people would force you to give up a quart of your blood weather you wanted to or not. An extreme utilitarian may even argue that you have to keep donating your blood till it is all gone, forcing you to give up your life to save more people.

With the utilitarian philosophy, the words good and evil refer to pleasurable and painful. Utilitarian’s “believe that we should be honest about seeking pleasure and trying to avoid pain.” (Mitchell, 2015, p. 402) With this belief system, all forms of sexuality would be considered good as long as it brings pleasure to those practicing it.

Where utilitarian philosophy might get real confusing is in body building. Arnold Schwarzenegger while still in his twenties said “Pain makes me grow, growing is what I want, therefore, for me, pain is pleasure.” (Manformation, 2015, p. 1)

Along with the utilitarian philosophy, comes the hedonism philosophy.. Hedonism is “the theory that pleasure is the highest good” (Mitchell, 2015, p. 403) There is individual hedonism, in which individuals seek pleasure for themselves. Most people will agree this does not lead to justice. Then there is social hedonism, where the people seek the greatest pleasure for society. Social hedonism is believed by the utilitarian’s to bring justice to society, “if more people experience a balance of pleasure over pain than vice versa.” (Mitchell, 2015, p. 403).


Marxism, named after the German philosopher Karl Marx from the nineteenth century, brings economics into the philosophy of what makes a good and just society. Marx worried about the influence industrialization was having on the middle class work force. Karl noticed that industrialization mixed with a capitalism, created a society where the many of the workers had nothing to sell expect their labor. This meant the vast majority of citizens in society became nothing more than working machines. (South University Online, 2015, para. 1).

If money and productivity are heightened over justice and quality of life, this leads to workers being abused and oppressed. Furthermore, “the economic and social gap between workers and the middle and upper class people who own most of society’s wealth and own the means of production, will grow.” (South University Online, 2015, para. 3). The history of the U.S. economics of the last century as certainly proven Karl Marx to be correct. “Marx believed that capitalism was inherently exploitative and called for a worker’s revolution designed to give the working class ownership the means of production.” (South University Online, 2015, para. 3). This was attempted in 2009, during the great rescission, and lasted through the 2012 elections in the United States, known as the one percent protesters and demonstrators. though they brought some awareness, it ultimately fizzled away as the economy began to improve. This showed that most working class American’s will only protest when things get really bad, but will not follow through if they feel economically stable enough.

Karl Marx and other philosophers believed that “the only credible standard of justice is fairness.” (Mitchell, 2015, p. 408). Here is where I agree with Karl Marx the most. Capitalism is not a fair system. In capitalism you become a wage slave by selling your labor. Too many people are typically forced to take whatever the going wage is for your labor. The wealthy all to often get wealthy by exploiting workers, and if by exploiting workers they could make even more money, they always seem perfectly willing to do so. (Mitchell, 2015, p. 409). The only way to make capitalism truly fair is to make all companies provide profit sharing with all there employees.

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The Utilitarian’s motto was “make individuals happy and you produce a just society.” (Mitchell, 2015, p. 408). Marxism brought on a different view, commercial services that are greater than the individual determine whether a society is just or not. People cannot be alienated from their work and life in a just society. “As long as a few wealthy people own private property and grow rich from its use while millions of others lead a life of drudgery in exchange for mere survival, justice can never be achieved.” (Mitchell, 2015, p. 408).

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