Justice is not always thought of as a virtue or an ideal. Legal justice can be seen as a mechanism for political and economic oppression. Social justice may be regarded as a way of rationalizing inequality or justifying confiscation of the property of others. Individual justice is sometimes represented as an incoherent concept which ignores the essentially social nature of human existence. The discourse of justice (or more specifically injustice) is often used as a mode of critique aimed at the injustices of existing social and political arrangements without playing any significant part in the exposition of what it is that is to replace injustice. Much of this sort of literature, particularly that involving left-wing critiques of liberal or libertarian justice, is ambivalent towards the idea of justice, seeking to draw on its powerful rhetorical force for the purpose of criticizing existing social and political arrangements, but not wanting to present its alternative vision of the good society using the basic terminology of the rejected realities. However, there are socialist as well as liberal theories of justice, as well as theories which seek to find a third way between what are, or were, the dominant ideologies of the modern world. Even Rawls considers his contract theory to be compatible with both free-market and centralized economic systems, and at least some of the implications of Dworkin’s rights approach are sufficiently egalitarian to count as radical liberal — in contrast to the rampant libertarianism of Nozick.
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