Social Justice in today's society

Seminar Paper 2008 10 Pages

Sociology - Individual, Groups, Society


Table of Contents


Table of Figures

1 Theories of Social Justice

2 Present discussions concerning Social Justice

3 Outlook and future Development


Statutory declaration

Table of Figures

Fig 1: Supply and Demand

Fig 2: Supply and Demand II

1 Theories of Social Justice

What does Social Justice mean? Is it the equality of people within an or­ganisation or the just distribution of goods - or both?

Is it social just if produced goods will be distributed equally or should the more efficient people, and therefore the key contributors, receive more? Generally the term “Social Justice” is often associated with1:

a) The law is equal to everyone
b) The equal distribution to everyone
c) Taking merits of everyone into account
d) Taking needs of everyone into account
e) The equality of opportunities for everyone

These and other questions of social justice will be enlightened below.

Aristotle claims that autarky is the highest aim of every society. For reaching this, political organised justice is required2, which will be differ­entiated into three kinds of justice. Firstly there is directive justice, which regulates the behaviour and acting of people according to applicable law in that society. Secondly there is distributive justice, which regulates the distribution of all goods, rights and duties to all affected people that re­ceive each to their own. Lastly there is commutative justice, which de­fines ways to correct inequalities by taking from better to poorly situated people3.

Thomas Hobbes ground principal describes that everything is driven by two main forces - greed and fear. In order to prevent a war between peo­ple and allow peace as well as give the ability to acquire private property the state needs to intervene and enforce a law, which allows all people to focus on economic activities. This and the rationality of people enable the weal of people. However, everyone is self-responsible and socially disad­vantaged people will not be particularly supported. If there is social injus- tice due to law and contracts than this does not justify the redistribution of goods.4

In John Rawls opinion social justice is only reachable in democratic countries, and hence social justice is not based on just behaviour of indi­viduals, but on the just basic order of human society.5 This original order of the state can only be established if all founding members ignore their own interests and personalities. Rawls calls this the “veil of ignorance”6. Only with this ignorance of their future positions within the founded state these people will create a just society based on two basic principles: a) a schedule of basic rights and b) the equality of opportunities. To ensure the equality of opportunities there is no redistribution of resources unless the least well-off benefits the most.7

According to Friedrich August von Hayek is liberty of each individual the highest good. This liberty includes also the possibility of acquiring rights to private property. For ensuring that, the role of the state is to es­tablish basic laws, which do not include the redistribution of goods within the society since this would trim individual liberty.8 The social order is a spontaneous result of acting people with respect to the private property of everyone. These human actions are driven by the law of supply and demand. Unjust acting, however, has to be prohibited in order to not re­strict individual liberty.9


1 Cp. Mokrosch, 2006, p.81

2 Cp. Baum, 2004, p.69

3 Cp. Mokrosch, 2006, p.83

4 Cp. Baum, 2004, p.107ff.

5 Cp. Baum, 2004, p.148

6 Cp. Hütig, 2005, p.142

7 Cp. Bloemers, 2003, p.47

8 Cp. Baum, 2004, p.132

9 Cp. Baum, 2004, p.136ff.


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ISBN (Book)
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Institution / College
University of Liechtenstein, früher Hochschule Liechtenstein
Social Justice Seminar

Title: Social Justice in today's society