Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Brief Thoughts On A Just Society

I attended a lively philosophical discussion last night at the Commonwealth Club under the auspices of its Socrates Cafe.  We discussed what a just society meant, and many highly intelligent people weighed in on fairness, equality, and love.  I threw my own thoughts into the mix a few times.  I want to note a couple of things here that may benefit others who aren't privy to such discussions.

I believe John Rawls' A Theory Of Justice clarifies how modern societies can be fair to all of their members.  His two major principles address political liberties and socioeconomic opportunities separately.  The implied task for American citizens is to build a society that maximizes these two principles for as many of our fellow citizens as possible.  Building a just society along these lines requires metrics that show us what success will look like.  I believe the application of Big Data in a globalized economy can now bring the just society within reach.

My longtime readers know that I use widely regarded development indexes to evaluate country-specific investment risks.  The best are Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index and the Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom.  I believe Transparency's index corresponds well with Rawls' first principle for political liberties and the Heritage index works for his second principle on economics.  In other words, these Big Data repositories enable Americans to benchmark their society's fairness against other countries.

We don't have to stop with two measuring tools.  The World Justice Project's Rule of Law Index supports stronger jurisprudence in countries with weak legal traditions.  The National Center for Access to Justice publishes a Justice Index for states within the US.  Our Constitution promises every state a republican form of government, implying a strong rule of law and a fair legal system.  Every American deserves to live in a society that delivers as much justice as is humanly possible.  Fixing our systems means first measuring them to see where they need repair.