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    Social Justice

    Some scholars reject the very idea of social justice as meaningless, religious, self-contradictory, and ideological, believing that to realize any degree of social justice is unfeasible, and that the attempt to do so must destroy all liberty. Perhaps the most complete rejection of the concept of social justice comes from Friedrich Hayek of the Austrian School of economics:

    There can be no test by which we can discover what is ‘socially unjust’ because there is no subject by which such an injustice can be committed, and there are no rules of individual conduct the observance of which in the market order would secure to the individuals and groups the position which as such (as distinguished from the procedure by which it is determined) would appear just to us. [Social justice] does not belong to the category of error but to that of nonsense, like the term `a moral stone’.

    Ben O’Neill of the University of New South Wales argues that, for proponents of “social justice”:

    the notion of “rights” is a mere term of entitlement, indicative of a claim for any possible desirable good, no matter how important or trivial, abstract or tangible, recent or ancient. It is merely an assertion of desire, and a declaration of intention to use the language of rights to acquire said desire. In fact, since the program of social justice inevitably involves claims for government provision of goods, paid for through the efforts of others, the term actually refers to an intention to use force to acquire one’s desires. Not to earn desirable goods by rational thought and action, production and voluntary exchange, but to go in there and forcibly take goods from those who can supply them!

    Janusz Korwin-Mikke argues simply: “Either ‘social justice’ has the same meaning as ‘justice’ – or not. If so – why use the additional word ‘social?’ We lose time, we destroy trees to obtain paper necessary to print this word. If not, if ‘social justice’ means something different from ‘justice’ – then ‘something different from justice’ is by definition ‘injustice'”

    Sociologist Carl L. Bankston has argued that a secular, leftist view of social justice entails viewing the redistribution of goods and resources as based on the rights of disadvantaged categories of people, rather than on compassion or national interest. Bankston maintains that this secular version of social justice became widely accepted due to the rise of demand-side economics and to the moral influence of the civil rights movement.

    2 Responses to “Social Justice”

    1. Gabriel says:

      People who use the term social justice generally mean sharing arund more evenly life’s educational, money-earning and daily comforts opportunities. We don’t all start at the same starting line. Some of us have severe physical and mental handicaps.
      social justice seekers have ranged from fair-play meritocrats to Chinese and Soviet state-grabs-all socialists. In between are various configurations of conservatives and liberals and liberal conservatives. You can’t measure social justice because its connection to social happiness is vague and unmeasurable. The high tax-paying Swedes have an enviable welfare state (which they pay for) but Swedish society has its social ills, an obvious one being irredeemable tedium and patches of severe alcohol dependence. Ireland, by contrast, is riddled with social injustice, corruption and institutional incompetence. Yet, according to published international surveys, the Irish are among the happiest nations of the world. Maybe to keep up our national happiness ratings we need to solve our social bottlenecks ever so slowly eh?

    2. Lelia Downs says:

      utilitarians have responded to these criticisms in a number of ways. utilitarians may believe that even more welfare in the long run can be achieved by re-educating the majority so that racist preferences weaken or disappear over time, leading to a more harmonious and happier world. However, the utilitarian must supply an account of why racist or sexist preferences should be discouraged if the same level of total long term utility could be achieved by encouraging the less powerful to be content with a lower position. Utilitarians have also argued that the empirical conditions are such that utility maximizing will rarely require racial minorities to sacrifice or suffer for the benefit of others, or to satisfy the prejudices of others. But if their theory on rare occasions does require people sacrifice or suffer in these ways, utilitarians have defended this unintuitive consequence on the grounds that our judgments about what is wrong provide us with ‘rules of thumb’ which are useful at the level of commonsense morality but ultimately mistaken at the level of ‘critical theory’. More recently, some utilitarians have drawn on institutional theory or game theory in defence, or in modification, of utilitarianism (see Hardin 1988, Goodin 1995, Bailey 1997). Noting that the consequences of individual actions are rarely determined in isolation, but rather in conjunction with the actions of many others, these Institutional utilitarians argue that morally intuitive institutions such as constitutional rights, human rights and various property rights would be endorsed by utilitarianism, and would forbid the morally horrible outcomes critics have feared utilitarianism could sanction.

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