2023 Abstracts Stage 2

Exploring the opposing philosophies of Robert Nozick and John Rawls in the context of modern British politics

This essay delves into the fundamentally opposing philosophies of Robert Nozick and John Rawls, two profoundly influential political thinkers whos works have shaped contemporary political thought. By examing both Nozick’s libertarian perspective and Rawls’s liberal egalitarian position the essay aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of their opposing beliefs regarding justice and the role of the state in society. Furthermore, this essay contextualises the works of each philosopher through highlighting the ways in which Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair’s political ideologies reflect the works of Nozick and Rawls, respectively. Through comparing the ideologies of these politicians to the works of Nozick and Rawls the essay explore the practical implications of these contrasting viewpoints and their impacts on society, welfare, and public policies. Overall, this essay aims to provide a deeper appreciation of the complex relationship between philosophy and politcs.

2021 Abstracts Stage 2

Shaking the Third Rail: Reforming Taxation

For my project I’m going to be exploring the concept of taxation with reference to the philosophies of John Rawls and Robert Nozick.

– I’ll analyse Rawls and Nozick’s conceptions of justice and how these apply within a state.

– I’ll apply Rawl’s principles of justice to the current tax system to argue that reform is necessary.

– Further I will attempt to dismantle Nozick’s conception of justice and taxation to show it does not go far enough.

– I’ll consider the specific reforms to income and inheritance tax that can be made to move the UK closer to a Rawlsian just state.

– The current taxation system in the UK will be central to my argument, but reference will be made to the tax system post WW2.

2014 Abstracts Stage 2

Is the Existence of Public Schools Justified?

I investigate the notion that the existence of public schools in the UK is not justified, as they are linked with social immobility – if they are a cause of social immobility, perhaps there are grounds to abolish the public school system.

Is it the right of an individual to own a disproportionate amount of private property? Should that be any different to purchasing a public school education?

I consider the opinions of Nozick, Rawls, Locke and Hegel, as I inspect whether a public school education is a piece of private property.

2013 Abstracts Stage 3

Can Rawls’ and Nozick’s Theories of Justice Be a Basis for the Distribution of University Acceptances?

 According to The Sutton Trust, independent school pupils are more than twice as likely as pupils in comprehensive schools to be accepted into one of the 30 most highly selective universities.
 Universities take into account academic ability, personal attributes, and social background when considering place offers.
 Their societal belief that these statistics are caused by arbitrary factors rather than merit is very apparent.

 Rawls’ theory of justice aims to promote equality within society
 Liberty Principle: Everyone should be entitled to the same basic liberties, chosen from under a veil of ignorance in the Original Position
 Fair Equality of Opportunity Principle: Everyone should be open to the same opportunities should they have the same ability and motivation
 Difference Principle: Inequality is just only if it benefits those who are worst-off in society, rather than further enhancing the lives of the already fortunate

 Entitlement theory: We are entitled to our holdings if we have acquired them through the principle of just acquisition, or have exchanged it with someone through the principle of justice in transfer
 We are entitled to our talents and abilities, regardless of whether they have come about through circumstantial luck and social background.
Rawls is incorrect to suggest that we are not entitled to something if it merely came about through chance, because ultimately everything can be attributed to luck.
 Inequalities are just if they come about through voluntary exchange, there should not be a limitation on freedom to satisfy the desire for equality
 Thus, leniencies should not be made towards those who are disadvantaged to maintain equality, and university places should be awarded to those with the greatest academic ability.