SOCIAL JUSTICE

WHAT DO YOU THINK SOCIAL JUSTICE IS ?

For its proponents, “social justice” is usually undefined. Originally a Catholic term, first used about 1840 for a new kind of virtue (or habit) necessary for post-agrarian societies, the term has been bent by secular “progressive” thinkers to mean uniform state distribution of society’s advantages and disadvantages. Social justice is really the capacity to organize with others to accomplish ends that benefit the whole community. If people are to live free of state control, they must possess this new virtue of cooperation and association. This is one of the great skills of Americans and, ultimately, the best defense against statism.

Michael Novak George Frederick Jewett Scholar in Religion, Philosophy, and Public Policy

 WHAT DO YOU THINK JUSTICE IS ?

One definition of justice is “giving to each what he or she is due.” The problem is knowing what is “due”. Functionally, “justice” is a set of universal principles which guide people in judging what is right and what is wrong, no matter what culture and society they live in. Justice is one of the four “cardinal virtues” of classical moral philosophy, along with courage, self-control and efficiency. Virtues or “good habits” help individuals to develop fully their human potentials, thus enabling them to serve their own self-interests as well as work in harmony with others for their common good.

IS JUSTICE A VIRTUE: WHAT DO YOU THINK ?

The ultimate purpose of all the virtues is to elevate the dignity and sovereignty of the human person. Social justice is the virtue which guides us in creating those organized human interactions we call institutions. In turn, social institutions, when justly organized, provide us with access to what is good for the person, both individually and in our associations with others. Social justice also imposes on each of us a personal responsibility to collaborate with others, at whatever level of the “Common Good” in which we participate, to design and continually perfect our institutions as tools for personal and social development.

Center for Economic and Social Justice

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