The value criterion is...empowering marginalized groups.
Here are some of the best justifications for a equality framework.
Questions of what a society ought to do cannot rely on specific metaphysical viewpoints, or absolute moral truths because they could not serve as the basis of reasonable agreement in a pluralistic society. Freeman
Samuel Freeman, Avalon Professor in the Humanities at The University of Pennsylvania. Justice and the Social Contract: Essays on Rawlsian Political Philosophy. Oxford University Press. New York, NY. 2007. 37.
We have considered how the social contract plays a role within Rawls's conception of justice, from the point of view of free and equal persons and from the perspective of the parties in the original position. Let us now consider a second way in which agreement plays a role, implicit in a third perspective in Rawls's view, that of ourselves as members of a democratic society. Rawls identifies the aim of political philosophy as a practical one: to define a conception of justice that can “provide a shared public basis for the justification of political and social institutions.” 46 Its task is to locate a basis for agreement in a culture that all can affirm and accept and that can serve as a basis for public reasoning and stable social cooperation. The practical aim of a political conception is to be contrasted with what we might call the “theoretical aim” of a moral conception, which is truth. “Justice as fairness . . . presents itself not as a conception of justice that is true, but one that can serve as a basis of informed and willing political agreement between citizens” (JF, 230). This does not mean that Rawls is not interested in objectivity or truth (clearly Rawls thinks that the general facts assumed by his theory and the parties are true [TJ, 547/481 rev.]). Rather, there is a difference between the primary objects of a practical versus a theoretical inquiry. Whether Rawls's principles are or can be true, in the sense that they satisfy a metaphysical account of truth, is a separate issue which Rawls does not address. He thinks it important to “avoid the problem of truth and the controversy between realism and subjectivism” if justice as fairness is to achieve its practical aim in a democracy (JF, 230). This point is essential to Rawls's version of liberalism, as well as to understanding the sense in which his is a social contract view. The practical aim of a political conception does not by itself seem to imply any form of a social contract. For, we might imagine a society in which appeals to religious authority, or to self-evident truths about good reasons, provided the basis for public justification and agreement (cf. CP, 343). Rawls's point is that such appeals cannot work in a democracy. For, given that democratic citizens have different and competing philosophical conceptions of the nature and bases of truth, objectivity, and so on, a basis for public reasoning and agreement cannot be achieved by a conception of justice that relies on such premises. Here the idea of social agreement comes in; such an idea is implicit in what I will call the “practical conception of justification” that Rawls sees as appropriate for a democratic society.
Thus, states must provide all citizens a baseline level of political equality. Daniels
Norman Daniels. Democratic Equality: Rawls’s Complex Egalitarianism. 2002.
Because of their interest in recognitional equality, when contractors choose principles they must assure all citizens that the terms of cooperation sustain their sense of self-respect. Self-respect is sustained when there is a basis for each to recognize and respond to others as equal citizens. The fundamental importance of protecting the capability of all to participate in democratic processes and public life, and of not simply assuming people formal rights that might be thought empty of real meaning or effect, derives from this concern to protect the recognitional components of equality. Those who are best off must retain the awareness that the worst off are still equal and worthy participants in the democratic regulation of society. Those who are worst off must continue to see themselves as worthy equals in participation, in opportunity, and in the interest they have in pursuing their ends -- or they will not be able to sustain their self-respect and thus their participation. A key reason for insisting that the term “democratic equality” refers to the all three principles of justice, and not just to fair equality of opportunity and the difference principle, derives from the importance of this egalitarian idea about the social bases of self-respect, with its echo of Rousseau.”
And, Abstract philosophy not based in human needs fails to guide action and re-retrenches an elitist position. Kratochwil
Fredrick, Assistant Professor of International Relations at Columbia University, Pragmatism in International Relations “Ten points to ponder about pragmatism” 2008
Firstly, a pragmatic approach does not begin with objects or “things” (ontology), or with reason and method (epistemology), but with “acting” ( prattein), thereby preventing some false starts. Since, as historical beings placed in a specific situations, we do not have the luxury of deferring decisions until we have found the “truth”, we have to act and must do so always under time pressures and in the face of incomplete information. Precisely because the social world is characterised by strategic interactions, what a situation “is”, is hardly ever clear ex ante, because it is being “produced” by the actors and their interactions, and the multiple possibilities are rife with incentives for (dis)information. This puts a premium on quick diagnostic and cognitive shortcuts informing actors about the relevant features of the situation, and on leaving an alternative open (“plan B”) in case of unexpected difficulties. Instead of relying on certainty and universal validity gained through abstraction and controlled experiments, we know that completeness and attentiveness to detail, rather than to generality, matter. To that extent, likening practical choices to simple “discoveries” of an already independently existing “reality” which discloses itself to an “observer” – or relying on optimal strategies – is somewhat heroic. These points have been made vividly by “realists” such as Clausewitz in his controversy with von Bülow, in which he criticised the latter’s obsession with a strategic “science” (Paret et al. 1986). While Clausewitz has become an icon for realists, only a few of them (usually dubbed “old” realists) have taken seriously his warnings against the misplaced belief in the reliability and usefulness of a “scientific” study of strategy. Instead, most of them, especially “neorealists” of various stripes, have embraced the “theory”-building based on the epistemological project as the via regia to the creation of knowledge. A pragmatist orientation would most certainly not endorse such a position. Secondly, since acting in the social world often involves acting “for” someone, special responsibilities arise that aggravate both the incompleteness of knowledge as well as its generality problem. Since we owe special care to those entrusted to us, for example, as teachers, doctors or lawyers, we cannot just rely on what is generally true, but have to pay special attention to the particular case. Aside from avoiding the foreclosure of options, we cannot refuse to act on the basis of incomplete information or insufficient knowledge, and the necessary diagnostic will involve typification and comparison, reasoning by analogy rather than generalization or deduction. Leaving out the particularities of a case, be it a legal or medical one, in a mistaken effort to become “scientific” would be a fatal flaw. Moreover, there still remains the crucial element of “timing” – of knowing when to act. Students of crises have always pointed out the importance of this factor but, in attempts at building a general “theory” of international politics analogously to the natural sciences, such elements are neglected on the basis of the “continuity of nature” and the “large number” assumptions. Besides, “timing” seems to be quite recalcitrant to analytical treatment.
Thus, the standard is empowering marginalized groups.
Further prefer my framework since equality is necessary to answer ethical questions, since excluding some perspectives creates a flawed epistemology that makes that impossible. Medina
Medina, J. (2011). Toward a Foucaultian Epistemology of Resistance: Counter-Memory, Epistemic Friction, and Guerrilla Pluralism. Foucault Studies, 1(12), 9–35.
Foucault invites us to pay attention to the past and ongoingepistemic battles among competing power/knowledge frameworks that try to control a given field Different fields—or domains of discursive interaction—contain particular discursive regimes with their particular ways of producing knowledge. In the battle among power/ knowledge frameworks, some come on top and become dominant while others are displaced and become subjugated. Foucault’s methodology offers a way of exploiting that vibrant plurality of epistemic perspectives which always contains some bodies of experiences and memories that are erased or hidden in the mainstream frameworks that become hegemonic after prevailing in sustained epistemic battles. What Foucault calls subjugated knowledges are forms of experience and remembering that are pushed to the margins and renders unqualified and unworthy of epistemic respect by prevailing and hegemonic discourses. Subjugated knowledges remain invisible to mainstream perspectives; they have a precarious subterranean existence that renders them unnoticed by most people and impossible to detect by those whose perspective has already internalized certain epistemic exclusions. And with the invisibility of subjugated knowledges, certain possibilities for resistance and subversion go unnoticed. The critical and emancipatory potential of Foucaultian genealogy resides in challenging established practices of remembering and forgetting by excavating subjugated bodies of experiences and memories, bringing to the fore the perspectives that culturally hegemonic practices have foreclosed. The critical task of the scholar and the activist resurrect subjugated knowledges—that is, to revive hidden or forgotten bodies of experiences and memories—and to help produce insurrections of subjugated knowledges. In order to be critical and to have transformative effects, genealogical investigations should aim at these insurrections, which are critical interventions that disrupt and interrogate epistemic hegemonies and mainstream perspectives (e.g. official histories, standard interpretatsions, ossified exclusionary meanings, etc). Such insurrections involve the difficult labor of mobilizing scattered, marginalized publics and of tapping into the critical potential of their dejected experiences and memories. An epistemic insurrection requires a collaborative relation between genealogical scholars/activists and the subjects whose experiences and memories have been subjugated: those subjects by themselves may not be able to destabilize the epistemic status quo until they are given a voice at the epistemic table (i.e. in the production of knowledge), that is, until room is made for their marginalized perspective to exert resistance, until past epistemic battles are reopened and established frameworks become open to contestation.
[This framework originally and generously contributed by Harvard-Westlake.]