Rawlsian Social Welfare Function

608 words | 3 page(s)

When considering the social welfare of a society, the concept of the individual can be regularly lost in the translation of identifiable equations and therefore cannot express the true well being of the society. In every possible scenario, it is evident that all of the individuals cannot be characterized into specific classes as there are opportunities for improvement in both the individual and the societal groupings. However, the purpose of the social welfare function is not to gauge the wealth or well being of an individual but rather to determine the welfare of the society as a whole. This suggests that the society can only be properly calculated by the well being of all individuals as an entire society and not particularly by specific classifications. Through this concept of the social welfare function, it is the well being of the entirety of the society that is determined as a functioning group of individuals which is determined by the manner in which the society recognizes its purpose as a whole. By exploring the Rawlsian social welfare function, it is possible to characterize a society in terms of financial well being as well as the ability of the society to function within the concept of unity.

The Rawlsian social welfare function explains that a society cannot be represented by the sum of all of the financial gains of that society as this provides for a substantial amount of inequality between the richest individuals and the poverty stricken members of the society. For example, if the primary amount of resources belong to the top one percent of a society and the remaining ninety nine percent are struggling to find basic necessities such as food and shelter, it would be inaccurate to state that this society was wealthy and that there was growth in terms of the social welfare. The society would not be properly functioning for the benefit of the whole but would only present itself as such in certain models of the social welfare functions.

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Instead, the Rawlsian social welfare function looks specifically at the poorest individuals within the society as a determining factor when analyzing the society as a whole. According to this model, society is only functioning properly when the poorest individuals within the society are able to provide for their basic necessities and the wealthiest individuals of the society are not hindering this ability. Noted as an infinite inequality aversion, this model is not concerned with the entire social financial standing but rather on societies ability to provide for the individuals across the different classes and that the lowest income is substantial to provide for the necessities of life within that society. This does not give a specific dollar amount to characterize the society but is concerned with the ability of society to function.

There are numerous purposes for choosing a particular model of a social welfare function. Many of these purposes involve developing a model that presents the best part of that society. Being in charge, I would not be as concerned with how the numbers look to the public and to others outside of the community as I would be in knowing how the society was truly functioning for all members. This may present a scenario where things look bleak for the onlooker, but being able to see the true situations that the poorest members of society are living in would provide a framework for improving the social welfare of the entire society. Financial reports should not be utilized or chosen as a means to impress the world but rather to learn from the reports and improve the functionality of the society as a whole.

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