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Getting Social Justice Right (AU 2013)

Acton University lecture, June 19, 2013

Greg Forster

on 28 May 2014

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Transcript of Getting Social Justice Right (AU 2013)

Getting Social Justice Right
Greg Forster
Acton University, June 19, 2013
What do people mean
by "social justice"?
"A socially just society is one based upon the principles of equality and solidarity; which pedagogy also maintains that a socially just society both understands and values human rights, as well as recognizing the dignity of every human being."
"A legal order and normative ideal within a society by which individuals and their various associations are given the maximum range of liberty in pursuit of their proper ends, with a minimum of interference from superior authorities, i.e., only to the extent necessary to orient general activity towards the common good, and governed by the principles of conflicting rights, prudence, and, ultimately, of charity."
Thomas C. Behr, U. of Houston
(summarizing Luigi Taparelli D’Azeglio, who coined the phrase)
John Rawls (1921-2002)
(never used the phrase, but it's widely associated with him)
First principle: "Each person has an equal claim to a fully adequate scheme of equal basic rights and liberties, which scheme is compatible with the same scheme for all; and in this scheme the equal political liberties, and only those liberties, are to be guaranteed their fair value."

Second principle: "Social and economic inequalities are to satisfy two conditions: (a) They are to be attached to positions and offices open to all under conditions of fair equality of opportunity; and (b), they are to be to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged members of society."
Wikipedia entry
on "Social Justice"
Friedrich Hayek
- a "will-o-the-wisp" and an "empty formula"
- "strictly," "necessarily" and "entirely" "empty and meaningless"
- a phrase that "meant nothing at all" and "has no meaning whatsoever"
- a source of "sloppy thinking and even intellectual dishonesty"
- a "primitive anthropomorphism" or "atavism"
- a "superstition" comparable to believing in witches or alchemy
- a "hollow incantation" like "open sesame"
- a "dishonest insinuation... intellectually disreputable, the mark of demagogy and cheap journalism which responsible thinkers ought to be ashamed to use because, once its vacuity is recognized, its use is dishonest"

- "that incubus which today makes fine sentiments the instruments for the destruction of all values of a free civilization," leading to "the destruction of the indispensable environment in which the traditional moral values alone can flourish, namely personal freedom"
"The Mirage of Social Justice" declares that "social justice" is:
Thomas C. Behr
Luigi Taparelli D’Azeglio
Jesuit scholar, 1793–1862
Responding to Industrial Revolution,
Laissez-faire v. Socialism
Major influence on Rerum Novarum
Put "social" in front of "justice" because the
human person is social as well as individual
A theory of justice must account for human associations/institutions as well as individuals
The various types of institutions . . .
. . . must all be free to perform their proper functions,
and must be rightly related to one another.
Otherwise you don't have justice.
Scripture &
Doing justice in
particular cases
Dike & Adika
Social solidarity
around justice
Perfect standard God
rightly demands of all
Lower standard
community is
able to enforce
How much of its
original integrity
does the world
retain in spite of
the fall?
To what extent should
we focus on restoring
the original design of
...and to what extent
should we focus on
creating "foretastes"
of the new creation?
"In Paradox With"
Christ __________ Culture
Free Enterprise
Moral Institutions
Safety Net
"Social Justice"
Free Enterprise
Moral Institutions
Safety Net
Full transcript