Introduction: Life-Value and Social Justice

Citation data:

Studies in Social Justice, Vol: 5, Issue: 1, Page: 1-10

Publication Year:
2011
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Repository URL:
https://scholar.uwindsor.ca/philosophypub/39
Author(s):
Noonan, Jeff
Tags:
Arts and Humanities; Philosophy
article description
Since its publication in 1971, John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice has defined the terrain of political philosophical debate concerning the principles, scope, and material implications of social justice. Social justice for Rawls concerns the principles that govern the operation of major social institutions. Major social institutions structure the lives of citizens by regulating access to the resources and opportunities that the formulation and realization of human projects require. Rawls’ theory of social justice regards major institutions as just when they distribute what he calls “primary goods” in a manner that he regards as egalitarian. Hence, the subsequent social justice debate has been shaped by and large as a debate about the meaning and implications of egalitarianism. While on the surface a debate about egalitarianism as a distributional principle seems to uncover the core problem of social justice—how much of what everyone should get as a matter of right—the entire history of the debate has been conducted in abstraction fr om what matters most to people’s lives. It is as a corrective to such abstractions that the life-value approach to social justice has been developed.