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Social justice is justice in terms of the distribution of
wealth Wealth is the abundance of valuable financial asset A financial asset is a non-physical asset whose value is derived from a contractual claim, such as deposit (finance), bank deposits, bond (finance), bonds, and participations in companies' sh ...

wealth
, opportunities, and
privilege Privilege may refer to: Arts and entertainment * ''Privilege'' (film), a 1967 film directed by Peter Watkins * ''Privilege'' (Ivor Cutler album), 1983 * ''Privilege'' (Television Personalities album), 1990 * ''Privilege (Abridged) ''Privile ...
s within a society. In
Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western Junction, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western world, countries that ide ...
as well as in older Asian cultures, the concept of social justice has often referred to the process of ensuring that individuals fulfill their societal roles and receive what was their due from society. In the current movements for social justice, the emphasis has been on the breaking of barriers for
social mobility Social mobility is the movement of individuals, families, households, or other categories of people within or between Social stratification, social strata in a society. It is a change in social status relative to one's current social location ...
, the creation of safety nets and
economic justiceJustice Justice, one of the four cardinal virtues, by Vitruvio Alberi, 1589–1590. Fresco, corner of the vault, studiolo of the Virgin of Mercy, Madonna of Mercy, Palazzo Altemps, Rome Justice, in its broadest sense, is the principle that peopl ...
. Social justice assigns rights and duties in the
institution Institutions, according to Samuel P. Huntington Samuel Phillips Huntington (April 18, 1927 – December 24, 2008) was an American political scientist, adviser and academic. He spent more than half a century at Harvard University Ha ...
s of society, which enables people to receive the basic benefits and burdens of cooperation. The relevant institutions often include
taxation A tax is a compulsory financial charge or some other type of levy imposed on a taxpayer (an individual or legal entity In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act accord ...
,
social insurance Social insurance is a concept where the government intervenes in the insurance market to ensure that a group of individuals are insured or protected against the risk of any emergencies that lead to financial problems. This is done through a proc ...
,
public health Public health has been defined as "the science and art of preventing disease", prolonging life and improving quality of life Quality of life (QOL) is defined by the World Health Organization The World Health Organization (WHO) is a s ...

public health
, public school,
public services A public service is a Service (economics), service intended to serve all members of a community. Public services include services provided by a government to people living within its jurisdiction, either directly through public sector agencies o ...
,
labor law Labour law (also known as labor law or employment law) mediates the relationship between workers, employing entities, trade union A trade union (or a labor union in American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), somet ...
and
regulation Regulation is the management of complex systems A complex system is a system composed of many components which may interaction, interact with each other. Examples of complex systems are Earth's global climate, organisms, the human brain, infras ...

regulation
of
markets Market may refer to: *Market (economics) *Market economy *Marketplace, a physical marketplace or public market Geography *Märket, an island shared by Finland and Sweden Art, entertainment, and media Films *Market (1965 film), ''Market'' (1965 ...
, to ensure
fair A fair (archaic: faire or fayre) is a gathering of people for a variety of entertainment or commercial activities. It is normally of the essence of a fair that it is temporary with scheduled times lasting from an afternoon to several weeks. ...
distribution of wealth The distribution of wealth is a comparison of the wealth Wealth is the abundance (economics), abundance of Value (economics), valuable financial assets or property, physical possessions which can be converted into a form that can be used fo ...
, and
equal opportunity Equal opportunity is a state of fairness in which individuals are treated similarly, unhampered by artificial barriers or prejudices Prejudice can be an affective feeling towards a person based on their perceived group membership. The word is ...
. Interpretations that relate justice to a reciprocal relationship to society are mediated by differences in cultural traditions, some of which emphasize the individual responsibility toward society and others the equilibrium between access to power and its responsible use. Hence, social justice is invoked today while reinterpreting historical figures such as
Bartolomé de las Casas Bartolomé de las Casas ( ; ; 11 November 1484 – 18 July 1566) was a 16th-century Spanish landowner, friar, priest, and bishop, famed as a historian and social reformer. He arrived in Hispaniola as a layman then became a Dominican friar and ...

Bartolomé de las Casas
, in philosophical debates about differences among human beings, in efforts for gender, ethnic, and
social equality Social equality is a state of affairs in which all people within a specific society A society is a Social group, group of individuals involved in persistent Social relation, social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same spat ...
, for advocating justice for migrants, prisoners, the
environment Environment most often refers to: __NOTOC__ * Natural environment, all living and non-living things occurring naturally * Biophysical environment, the physical and biological factors along with their chemical interactions that affect an organism or ...
, and the physically and developmentally
disabled A disability is any condition that makes it more difficult for a person to do certain activities or effectively interact with the world around them (socially or materially). These conditions, or impairments, may be cognitive Cognition () ...

disabled
. While concepts of social justice can be found in classical and Christian philosophical sources, from Plato and Aristotle to Augustine of Hippo and Thomas Aquinas, the term “social justice” finds its earliest uses in the late 18th century—albeit with unclear theoretical or practical meanings.  Thus the use of the term was early on subject to accusations of redundancy—are not all claims of justice “social”? – and of rhetorical flourish, perhaps, but not necessarily, related to amplifying one view of distributive justice.Behr, Thomas. ''Social Justice and Subsidiarity: Luigi Taparelli and the Origins of Modern Catholic Social Thought'' (Washington DC: Catholic University of American Press, December 2019). In the coining and definition of the term in the natural law social scientific treatise of Luigi Taparelli, SJ, in the early 1840s, Taparelli established the natural law principle that corresponded to the evangelical principle of brotherly love—i.e. social justice reflects the duty one has to one’s other self in the interdependent abstract unity of the human person in society. After the Revolutions of 1848 the term was popularized generically through the writings of Antonio Rosmini-Serbati. In the late industrial revolution,
progressive Progressive may refer to: Politics * Progressivism is a political philosophy in support of social reform Political organizations * Congressional Progressive Caucus, members within the Democratic Party in the United States Congress dedicated to th ...
American legal scholars began to use the term more, particularly
Louis Brandeis Louis Dembitz Brandeis (; November 13, 1856 – October 5, 1941) was an American lawyer and associate justice Associate justice or associate judge is the title for a member of a judicial panel who is not the chief justice The chief jus ...
and
Roscoe Pound Nathan Roscoe Pound (October 27, 1870 – June 30, 1964) was an American legal scholar and educator. He served as Dean of the University of Nebraska College of Law The University of Nebraska College of Law is one of the professional graduate schoo ...
. From the early 20th century it was also embedded in
international law International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of rules, norms, and standards generally recognized as binding between nation A nation is a community A community is a social unitThe term "level of anal ...
and institutions; the preamble to establish the
International Labour Organization The International Labour Organization (ILO) is a United Nations agency whose mandate is to advance social and economic justice through setting international labour standards. Founded in October 1919 under the League of Nations, it is the fir ...
recalled that "universal and lasting peace can be established only if it is based upon social justice." In the later 20th century, social justice was made central to the philosophy of the
social contract In moral A moral (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power ...
, primarily by
John Rawls John Bordley Rawls (; February 21, 1921 – November 24, 2002) was an American moral A moral (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was ori ...
in ''
A Theory of Justice ''A Theory of Justice'' is a 1971 work of political philosophy Political philosophy is the philosophical study of government, addressing questions about the nature, scope, and legitimacy of public agents and institutions and the relationships ...
'' (1971). In 1993, the
Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (VDPA) is a human rights Human rights are moral principles or normsJames Nickel, with assistance from Thomas Pogge, M.B.E. Smith, and Leif Wenar, 13 December 2013, Stanford Encyclopedia of ...
treats social justice as a purpose of
human rights education Human rights education is defined as the learning process that builds up the required knowledge, values, and proficiency of human rights of which the objective is to develop an acceptable human rights culture. This type of learning teaches student ...
.


History

The different concepts of
justice Justice, in its broadest sense, is the principle that people receive that which they deserve, with the interpretation of what then constitutes "deserving" being impacted upon by numerous fields, with many differing viewpoints and perspectives, ...

justice
, as discussed in ancient
Western philosophy Western philosophy encompasses the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence Existence is the ability of an entity to interact with physical or mental reality ...
, were typically centered upon the community. *
Plato Plato ( ; grc-gre, Πλάτων ; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was an Classical Athens, Athenian philosopher during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece, founder of the Platonist school of thought and the Platoni ...

Plato
wrote in '' The Republic'' that it would be an ideal state that "every member of the community must be assigned to the class for which he finds himself best fitted." In an article for J.N.V University, author D.R. Bhandari says, "Justice is, for Plato, at once a part of human virtue and the bond, which joins man together in society. It is the identical quality that makes good and social. Justice is an order and duty of the parts of the soul, it is to the soul as health is to the body. Plato says that justice is not mere strength, but it is a harmonious strength. Justice is not the right of the stronger but the effective harmony of the whole. All moral conceptions revolve about the good of the whole-individual as well as social". * Plato believed rights existed only between free people, and the law should take "account in the first instance of relations of inequality in which individuals are treated in proportion to their worth and only secondarily of relations of equality." Reflecting this time when
slavery Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave, who is someone forbidden to quit their service for an enslaver, and who is treated by the enslaver as their property Property is a system of rights that give ...
and subjugation of women was typical, ancient views of justice tended to reflect the rigid class systems that still prevailed. On the other hand, for the privileged groups, strong concepts of fairness and the community existed.
Distributive justice Distributive justice concerns the . Often contrasted with , which is concerned with the administration of law, distributive justice concentrates on outcomes. This subject has been given considerable attention in and the s. In , distributive jus ...
was said by
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questio ...

Aristotle
to require that people were distributed goods and assets according to their merit. *
Socrates Socrates (; ; –399 BC) was a Greek philosopher from Athens Athens ( ; el, Αθήνα, Athína ; grc, Ἀθῆναι, Athênai (pl.) ) is the capital city, capital and List of cities in Greece, largest city of Greece. Athens domi ...

Socrates
(through Plato's dialogue ''
Crito ''Crito'' ( or ; grc, Κρίτων ) is a dialogue that was written by the ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to ...
'') is credited with developing the idea of a
social contract In moral A moral (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power ...
, whereby people ought to follow the rules of a society, and accept its burdens because they have accepted its benefits. During the Middle Ages, religious scholars particularly, such as
Thomas Aquinas Thomas Aquinas (; it, Tommaso d'Aquino, lit=Thomas of Aquino, Italy, Aquino; 1225 – 7 March 1274) was an Italian Dominican Order, Dominican friar, Philosophy, philosopher, Catholic priest, and Doctor of the Church. An immensely influential ...

Thomas Aquinas
continued discussion of justice in various ways, but ultimately connected being a good citizen to the purpose of serving God. After the
Renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. is a period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment, and media * Period (music), a concept in ...

Renaissance
and
Reformation The Reformation (alternatively named the Protestant Reformation or the European Reformation) was a major movement within Western Christianity in Vatican City Vatican City (), officially the Vatican City State ( it, Stato della Cit ...

Reformation
, the modern concept of social justice, as developing human potential, began to emerge through the work of a series of authors.
Baruch Spinoza Baruch (de) Spinoza (; ; ; born Baruch Espinosa; later as an author and a correspondent Benedictus de Spinoza, anglicized to Benedict de Spinoza; 24 November 1632 – 21 February 1677) was a Dutch philosopher of Spanish and Portuguese Jews, Por ...

Baruch Spinoza
in '' On the Improvement of the Understanding'' (1677) contended that the one true aim of life should be to acquire "a human character much more stable than ne'sown", and to achieve this "pitch of perfection... The chief good is that he should arrive, together with other individuals if possible, at the possession of the aforesaid character." During the
enlightenment Enlightenment, enlighten or enlightened may refer to: Age of Enlightenment * Age of Enlightenment, period in Western intellectual history from the late 17th to late 18th century, centered in France but also encompassing: ** Midlands Enlightenment ...
and responding to the
French
French
and
American Revolution The American Revolution was an ideological and political revolution which occurred in colonial North America between 1765 and 1783. The Americans in the Thirteen Colonies The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colo ...
s,
Thomas Paine Thomas Paine (born Thomas Pain; – In the contemporary record as noted by Conway, Paine's birth date is given as January 29, 1736–37. Common practice was to use a dash or a slash to separate the old-style year from the new-style year. In the ...

Thomas Paine
similarly wrote in ''
The Rights of Man ''Rights of Man'' (1791), a book by Thomas Paine Thomas Paine (born Thomas Pain; – In the contemporary record as noted by Conway, Paine's birth date is given as January 29, 1736–37. Common practice was to use a dash or a slash to separa ...

The Rights of Man
'' (1792) society should give "genius a fair and universal chance" and so "the construction of government ought to be such as to bring forward... all that extent of capacity which never fails to appear in revolutions." Although there is no certainty about the first use of the term "social justice", early sources can be found in Europe in the 18th century. Some references to the use of the expression are in articles of journals aligned with the spirit of the
Enlightenment Enlightenment, enlighten or enlightened may refer to: Age of Enlightenment * Age of Enlightenment, period in Western intellectual history from the late 17th to late 18th century, centered in France but also encompassing: ** Midlands Enlightenment ...
, in which social justice is described as an obligation of the monarch; also the term is present in books written by Catholic Italian theologians, notably members of the
Society of Jesus , image = Ihs-logo.svg , caption = Christogram A Christogram (Latin ') is a monogram or combination of letters that forms an abbreviation for the name of Jesus Christ, traditionally used as a Christian symbolism ...
. Thus, according to this sources and the context, social justice was another term for "the justice of society", the justice that rules the relations among individuals in society, without any mention to socio-economic equity or human dignity. The usage of the term started to become more frequent by Catholic thinkers from the 1840s, beginning with the
Jesuit , image = Ihs-logo.svg , caption = Christogram A Christogram (Latin ') is a monogram or combination of letters that forms an abbreviation for the name of Jesus Christ, traditionally used as a Christian symbolism ...
Luigi Taparelli Luigi Taparelli (born Prospero Taparelli d'Azeglio; 1793–1862) was an Italian Catholic The Catholic Church, often referred to as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, largest Christian c ...
in ''Civiltà Cattolica'', and based on the work of St.
Thomas Aquinas Thomas Aquinas (; it, Tommaso d'Aquino, lit=Thomas of Aquino, Italy, Aquino; 1225 – 7 March 1274) was an Italian Dominican Order, Dominican friar, Philosophy, philosopher, Catholic priest, and Doctor of the Church. An immensely influential ...

Thomas Aquinas
. Taparelli argued that rival
capitalist Capitalism is an economic system An economic system, or economic order, is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, ...

capitalist
and
socialist Socialism is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions In psychology, decision-making (also spelled decision making and decisionmaking) is regarded as the Cognition, cognitive pr ...

socialist
theories, based on subjective thinking, undermined the unity of society present in Thomistic
metaphysics Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that studies the first principles of being, identity and change, space and time, causality, necessity and possibility. It includes questions about the nature of consciousness and the relationship between ...

metaphysics
as neither were sufficiently concerned with ethics. Writing in 1861, the influential British philosopher and economist,
John Stuart Mill John Stuart Mill (20 May 1806 – 7 May 1873), also cited as J. S. Mill, was an English philosopher, Political economy, political economist, Member of Parliament (United Kingdom), Member of Parliament (MP) and civil servant. One of the most i ...
stated in ''
Utilitarianism Utilitarianism is a family of normative Normative generally means relating to an evaluative standard. Normativity is the phenomenon in human societies of designating some actions or outcomes as good or desirable or permissible and others as ba ...
'' his view that "Society should treat all equally well who have deserved equally well of it, that is, who have deserved equally well absolutely. This is the highest abstract standard of social and distributive justice; towards which all institutions, and the efforts of all virtuous citizens, should be made in the utmost degree to converge." In the later 19th and early 20th century, social justice became an important theme in American political and legal philosophy, particularly in the work of
John Dewey John Dewey (; October 20, 1859 – June 1, 1952) was an American philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Meta ...
,
Roscoe Pound Nathan Roscoe Pound (October 27, 1870 – June 30, 1964) was an American legal scholar and educator. He served as Dean of the University of Nebraska College of Law The University of Nebraska College of Law is one of the professional graduate schoo ...
and
Louis Brandeis Louis Dembitz Brandeis (; November 13, 1856 – October 5, 1941) was an American lawyer and associate justice Associate justice or associate judge is the title for a member of a judicial panel who is not the chief justice The chief jus ...
. One of the prime concerns was the ''
Lochner era The ''Lochner'' era is a period in American legal history from 1897 to 1937 in which the Supreme Court of the United States is said to have made it a common practice "to strike down economic regulations adopted by a State based on the Court's ow ...
'' decisions of the
US Supreme Court The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States of America The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a cou ...

US Supreme Court
to strike down legislation passed by state governments and the Federal government for social and economic improvement, such as the
eight-hour day The eight-hour day movement or 40-hour week movement, also known as the short-time movement, was a social movement A social movement is a loosely organized effort by a large group of people to achieve a particular goal, typically a social So ...
or the right to join a
trade union A trade union (or a labor union in American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of variety (linguistics), varieties of the English language native ...
. After the First World War, the founding document of the
International Labour Organization The International Labour Organization (ILO) is a United Nations agency whose mandate is to advance social and economic justice through setting international labour standards. Founded in October 1919 under the League of Nations, it is the fir ...
took up the same terminology in its preamble, stating that "peace can be established only if it is based on social justice". From this point, the discussion of social justice entered into mainstream legal and academic discourse. In 1931, the
Pope Pius XI Pope Pius XI ( it, Pio XI), born Ambrogio Damiano Achille Ratti (; 31 May 1857 – 10 February 1939), was head of the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, often referred to as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christia ...
explicitly referred to the expression, along with the concept of
subsidiarity Subsidiarity is a principle of social organization that holds that social and political issues should be dealt with at the most immediate (or local) level that is consistent with their resolution. The ''Oxford English Dictionary'' defines subsi ...
, for the first time in
Catholic social teaching Catholic social teaching, commonly abbreviated as CST, is an area of Catholic doctrine concerning matters of human dignity Dignity is the Rights, right of a person to be valued and respected for their own sake, and to be treated ethically. It is ...
in the encyclical ''
Quadragesimo anno ''Quadragesimo anno'' (Latin for "In the 40th Year") is an encyclical issued by Pope Pius XI on 15 May 1931, 40 years after Pope Leo XIII, Leo XIII's encyclical ''Rerum novarum,'' further developing Catholic social teaching. Unlike Leo XIII, wh ...
''. Then again in '' Divini Redemptoris'', the church pointed out that the realization of social justice relied on the promotion of the dignity of human person. The same year, and because of the documented influence of ''Divini Redemptoris'' in its drafters, the
Constitution of Ireland The Constitution of Ireland ( ga, Bunreacht na hÉireann, ) is the constitution, fundamental law of Republic of Ireland, Ireland. It asserts the national sovereignty of the Irish people. The constitution is broadly within the tradition of libera ...
was the first one to establish the term as a principle of the economy in the State, and then other countries around the world did the same throughout the 20th century, even in
socialist Socialism is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions In psychology, decision-making (also spelled decision making and decisionmaking) is regarded as the Cognition, cognitive pr ...

socialist
regimes such as the Cuban Constitution in 1976. In the late 20th century, several liberal and conservative thinkers, notably
Friedrich Hayek Friedrich August von Hayek ( , ; 8 May 189923 March 1992), often referred to by his initials F. A. Hayek, was an Austrian-British economist, and philosopher who is best known for his defence of classical liberalism. Hayek shared the 1974 Nob ...
rejected the concept by stating that it did not mean anything, or meant too many things. However the concept remained highly influential, particularly with its promotion by philosophers such as
John Rawls John Bordley Rawls (; February 21, 1921 – November 24, 2002) was an American moral A moral (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was ori ...
. Even though the meaning of social justice varies, at least three common elements can be identified in the contemporary theories about it: a duty of the State to distribute certain vital means (such as
economic, social, and cultural rights Economic, social and cultural rights are Socioeconomics, socio-economic human rights, such as the right to education, right to housing, right to an adequate standard of living, right to health, victims' rights and the right to science and cultur ...
), the protection of
human dignity Dignity is the Rights, right of a person to be valued and respected for their own sake, and to be treated ethically. It is of significance in morality, ethics, law and politics as an extension of the Age of Enlightenment, Enlightenment-era concepts ...
, and
affirmative action Affirmative action refers to a set of policies and practices within a government or organization seeking to increase the representation of particular groups based on their gender, race, sexuality, creed or nationality in areas in which they are u ...
s to promote
equal opportunities Equal opportunity is a state of fairness in which individuals are treated similarly, unhampered by artificial barriers or prejudices or preferences, except when particular distinctions can be explicitly justified. The intent is that the important jo ...
for everybody.


Contemporary theory


Philosophical perspectives


Cosmic values

Hunter Lewis' work promoting natural healthcare and sustainable economies advocates for
conservation Conservation is the preservation or efficient use of resources, or the conservation of various quantities under physical laws. Conservation may also refer to: Environment and natural resources * Nature conservation, the protection and manageme ...
as a key premise in social justice. His manifesto on
sustainability Sustainability is the capacity to endure in a relatively ongoing way across various domains of life. In the 21st century, it refers generally to the capacity for Earth's biosphere and human civilization to co-exist. For many, sustainability is ...

sustainability
ties the continued thriving of human life to real conditions, the environment supporting that life, and associates injustice with the detrimental effects of
unintended consequences In the social sciences Social science is the Branches of science, branch of science devoted to the study of society, societies and the Social relation, relationships among individuals within those societies. The term was formerly used to ...

unintended consequences
of human actions. Quoting classical Greek thinkers like
Epicurus Epicurus, ''Epíkouros'', "ally, comrade" (341–270 BC) was an and who founded , a highly influential school of . He was born on the Greek island of to parents. Influenced by , , , and possibly the , he turned against the of his day and e ...

Epicurus
on the good of pursuing happiness, Hunter also cites ornithologist, naturalist, and philosopher
Alexander Skutch Alexander Frank Skutch (May 20, 1904 – May 12, 2004) was a naturalist Natural history is a domain of inquiry involving organisms, including animals, fungus, fungi, and plants, in their natural environment, leaning more towards observational ...
in his book Moral Foundations: Pope Benedict XVI cites
Teilhard de Chardin Pierre Teilhard de Chardin ( (); 1 May 1881 – 10 April 1955) was a French Jesuit The Society of Jesus (SJ; la, Societas Iesu) is a religious order of the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, often referred to as the Roman Cathol ...
in a vision of the cosmos as a 'living host' embracing an understanding of ecology that includes humanity's relationship to others, that pollution affects not just the natural world but interpersonal relations as well. Cosmic harmony, justice and peace are closely interrelated: In ''The Quest for Cosmic Justice'',
Thomas Sowell Thomas Sowell (; born June 30, 1930) is an American economist An economist is a practitioner in the social sciences, social science discipline of economics. The individual may also study, develop, and apply theories and concepts from economi ...
writes that seeking utopia, while admirable, may have disastrous effects if done without strong consideration of the economic underpinnings that support contemporary society.


John Rawls

Political philosopher
John Rawls John Bordley Rawls (; February 21, 1921 – November 24, 2002) was an American moral A moral (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was ori ...
draws on the
utilitarian Utilitarianism is a family of normative Normative generally means relating to an evaluative standard. Normativity is the phenomenon in human societies of designating some actions or outcomes as good or desirable or permissible and others as ba ...
insights of and
Mill Mill may refer to: Science and technology * Mill (grinding) * Milling (machining) * List of types of mill * Mill, the arithmetic unit of the Analytical Engine early computer * Textile manufacturing, Textile mill * Steel mill, a factory for the manu ...
, the
social contract In moral A moral (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power ...
ideas of
John Locke John Locke (; 29 August 1632 – 28 October 1704) was an English philosopher and physician, widely regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment Enlightenment, enlighten or enlightened may refer to: Age of Enlightenment * ...

John Locke
, and the categorical imperative ideas of
Kant Immanuel Kant (, , ; 22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804) was a German philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about r ...

Kant
. His first statement of principle was made in ''A Theory of Justice'' where he proposed that, "Each person possesses an inviolability founded on justice that even the welfare of society as a whole cannot override. For this reason justice denies that the loss of freedom for some is made right by a greater good shared by others." A
deontological In moral philosophy Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, v ...
proposition that echoes Kant in framing the moral good of justice in absolutist terms. His views are definitively restated in ''
Political Liberalism Liberalism is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations between individuals, ...
'' where society is seen "as a fair system of co-operation over time, from one generation to the next". All societies have a basic structure of social, economic, and political institutions, both formal and informal. In testing how well these elements fit and work together, Rawls based a key test of legitimacy on the theories of social contract. To determine whether any particular system of collectively enforced social arrangements is legitimate, he argued that one must look for agreement by the people who are subject to it, but not necessarily to an objective notion of justice based on coherent ideological grounding. Obviously, not every citizen can be asked to participate in a poll to determine his or her consent to every proposal in which some degree of coercion is involved, so one has to assume that all citizens are reasonable. Rawls constructed an argument for a two-stage process to determine a citizen's hypothetical agreement: * The citizen agrees to be represented by X for certain purposes, and, to that extent, X holds these powers as a
trustee Trustee (or the holding of a trusteeship) is a legal term {{Short pages monitor links."> links.
* Carroll Quigley, C Quigley ''The Evolution of Civilizations: An Introduction to Historical Analysis'' (1961) 2nd edition 1979 * P Corning,
The Fair Society: The Science of Human Nature and the Pursuit of Social Justice
' (Chicago UP 2011) * WL Droel ''What is Social Justice'' (ACTA Publications 2011) * R Faden and M Powers, ''Social Justice: The Moral Foundations of Public Health and Health Policy''
OUP 2006
* J Franklin (ed), ''Life to the Full: Rights and Social Justice in Australia'' (Connor Court 2007) * LC Frederking (2013) ''Reconstructing Social Justice'' (Routledge) * FA Hayek, ''Law, Legislation and Liberty'' (1973) vol II, ch 3 * G Kitching, ''Seeking Social Justice through Globalization: Escaping a Nationalist Perspective'' (2003) * JS Mill, ''Utilitarianism (book), Utilitarianism'' (1863) * T Massaro, S.J. ''Living Justice: Catholic Social Teaching in Action'' (Rowman & Littlefield 2012) *
John Rawls John Bordley Rawls (; February 21, 1921 – November 24, 2002) was an American moral A moral (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was ori ...
, ''
A Theory of Justice ''A Theory of Justice'' is a 1971 work of political philosophy Political philosophy is the philosophical study of government, addressing questions about the nature, scope, and legitimacy of public agents and institutions and the relationships ...
'' (Harvard University Press 1971) *
John Rawls John Bordley Rawls (; February 21, 1921 – November 24, 2002) was an American moral A moral (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was ori ...
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Political Liberalism Liberalism is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations between individuals, ...
'' (Columbia University Press 1993) * C Philomena, B Hoose and G Mannion (eds), ''Social Justice: Theological and Practical Explorations'' (2007) * A Swift, ''Political Philosophy'' (3rd edn 2013) ch 1 * Michael J. Thompson,
The Limits of Liberalism: A Republican Theory of Social Justice
' (International Journal of Ethics: vol. 7, no. 3 (2011) {{authority control Social justice, Justice Social inequality Progressivism