Distributive justice is one of two categories of justice or fairness, the other
being retributive justice.
Distributive justice refers to fairness in the allocation of the rewards or
benefits of society or of an institution within society. For example, it is seen as
fair that those student essays which best meet the criteria of academia should
receive the best grades.
When Karl Marx asserts that workers produce value in a commodity which they do not
receive and are thus exploited, he is concerned about distributive injustice.
Retributive justice, on the other hand, refers to fairness in the administration
and imposition of punishment on those who have brought harm or negative consequences on
individuals or society.
Retributive justice is seen as fair, for example, that those who violate the law
should receive punishment. The criminal justice system can be thought of as the
institutionalization of retributive justice.
Untangling Procedural and Distributive Justice - Their Relative
Effects on Gainsharing Satisfaction
Theresa M. Welbourne, Cornell University
Prior studies on fairness have investigated the conditions under which either procedural
or distributive justice is more important to employees. One view holds that procedural
justice is more important when the outcome is group-based, and distributive justice is
more important when an outcome is individual-based. The second view is that distributive
justice is more important when an outcome is high or positive, and procedural justice is
more important when an outcome is low or negative. This study examined of the effects of
procedural and distributive justice on satisfaction with gainsharing, which involves a
Principles of Distributive
Justice - Experiments in Poland and America
Grzegorz Lissowski, University of Warsaw
Tadeusz Tyszka, Wlodzimierz Okrasa, Polish Academy of Sciences
An experiment was conducted under conditions approximating Rawls's "veil of
ignorance." It was a replication of Frohlich, Oppenheimer, and Eavy's experiment,
using Polish instead of American students. In accordance with Rawls's prediction, most of
experimental groups in both samples reached the consensus. However, the chosen principle
was not the Rawlsian principle of maximizing the floor income, but the principle of
maximizing the average income with the floor constraint. Moreover, in individual rankings
and choices, the principle of maximizing the average income with a floor constraint
received the highest ranks, while the Rawlsian principle received the lowest ranks. Our
interpretation of these results is that the notion of distributive justice should not be
reduced to considering only the welfare of the poorest.