The Security Difference Principle A policy or institutional change is socially just only if it improves the security of the least secure groups in society. The Security Difference Principle stems from Rawls, who from a liberal philosophical perspective essentially argued that social and economic inequalities are only just if they allow for the betterment of the worst-off groups in society (Rawls, 1973).
The Paternalism Test Principle. A policy or institutional change is socially just only if it does not impose controls on some groups that are not imposed on the most free groups in society. Underlying this principle is the Millian liberal view that there is a prima facie case against paternalism (except in the case of young children and those who are medically frail), particularly against those forms that constrain the freedoms of the disadvantaged.
The Rights-Not-Charity PrincipleA policy or institutional change is socially just if it enhances the rights of the recipient of benefits or services and limits the discretionary power of the providers. This third principle is also crucial for assessing alternative benefit schemes. A right is possessed by virtue of a persons humanity or citizenship, and cannot be made dependent on some behavioural conditionality. Social and economic entitlements should be rights, not matters for the discretionary decisions of bureaucrats or philanthropists or aid donors.
The Ecological Constraint Principle A policy or institutional change is socially just only if it does not involve an ecological cost borne by the community or by those directly affected. Benefit schemes should be subject to the constraint that they should not deliberately or carelessly jeopardise the environment.
The Dignified Work Principle A policy or institutional change is just only if it does not impede people from pursuing work in a dignified way and if it does not disadvantage the most insecure groups in that respect. The two-part test in this principle involves two implicit value judgements that work that is dignifying is worth promoting (whereas any deterioration in working conditions or in opportunities would not be), and that the policy should enhance the range and quality of work options of the most insecure groups relative to others, or more than for others. The main point is to determine whether or not a scheme favours the development of more freely chosen work opportunities and work capabilities.