Skip to main content
main-content
Top

About this book

The substantially revised third edition of this widely-used text introduces nine major theoretical approaches and their key protagonists, including a new chapter on global justice, and assesses their ability to generate clear, consistent and illuminating accounts of justice as a distinctive social, political and legal value.

Table of Contents

1. What is Justice? The Concept

Abstract
Justice is one of those core moral and political terms which claim universal importance and feature centrally in all social and political theories. Indeed, for many theorists it is the prime and overarching concept of public life, although it is increasingly overshadowed by the global attention being accorded to human rights, a phenomenon which is discussed in Chapter 12. The almost universal popularity of justice breeds a diversity of analyses and applications of the term ‘justice’ which can bewilder and discourage those who seek precision and clarity in their approach to political issues. Disagreement abounds over what it means to call a situation just or unjust, about what sort of actions are just or unjust, about who ought to do what to bring about justice, and about how we should go about settling these controversial matters. This book seeks to provide an overview of this contentious territory, exploring and testing those claims to universal value which the language of justice evokes, outlining a framework within which to compare and assess theories of justice, and suggesting how we might arrive at our own views on what justice is about and what sort of principles of justice we ought to adopt.
Tom Campbell

2. What is Just? The Norms

Abstract
This chapter takes us nearer to those fundamental moral questions which concern the standards and values we ought to adopt when commending something as just or criticizing it as unjust. Its focus is less on the concept of justice and more on questions about the proper criteria for determining whether something is or is not just or unjust, a substantive matter that has to be addressed in a theory of justice.
Tom Campbell

3. Justice as Entitlement: Libertarian Approaches

Abstract
The violation of rights is often cited as a standard example of injustice. It is unsurprising, therefore, that attempts are made to analyse justice purely in terms of rights. Justice is then a matter of respecting rights and providing remedies for their infringement or violation. In accordance with the logic of the concept of justice articulated in Chapter 2, ‘to each his or her due’ is interpreted as meaning ‘to each his or her rights’, with differing conceptions of justice giving varying content to the rights in question.
Tom Campbell

4. Justice as Respect: Liberal Approaches

Abstract
This chapter deals with theories of justice which combine the basic value of ‘respect for persons’ with an emphasis on the role of law in the realization of justice within the mainstream liberal tradition. First there is a relatively brief presentation of Immanuel Kant’s theory of justice and a critique which points out the weakness of his approach when it comes to deciding what ought to be the content of law, and hence of justice. I then deal at greater length with the currently influential theories of Ronald Dworkin who draws on the principle of treating persons ‘with equal concern and respect’ to commend the pursuit of justice through the development, within a legal and constitutional context, of the rights that embody this principle. This too is criticized for underestimating the problem of disagreement as to what ‘respect for persons’ means and what practical measures and institutional arrangement it requires.
Tom Campbell

5. Justice as Fairness: Contractual Approaches

Abstract
John Rawls’s major work, A Theory of Justice (1971, revised 1999), still sets the current agenda of issues to be discussed in any theory of justice and provides the terminology in which much policy debate proceeds. Rawls combines a sophisticated (initially contractarian) methodology with attractive substantive views on what is just. This chapter focuses primarily on the ‘early Rawls’ in which the contractual element is more central, but it also brings in some of the ‘later Rawls’ (principally Rawls 1980, 1993, 1999b) in which the emphasis is more on the standards of public reason appropriate to a liberal democracy. Care is taken to point out that it is to some extent possible to evaluate separately Rawls’s approaches to the epistemology of justice from the details of his substantive views as to what is just, and vice versa. Nevertheless, the historical impact of Rawls’s theory has depended largely on its combination of a promising methodology and the attractive principles of justice derived by means of that method.
Tom Campbell

6. Justice as Utility: Consequentialist Approaches

Abstract
Although it is common to draw a sharp distinction between justice and utility, utilitarians themselves vigorously dispute the validity of this antithesis and claim that utilitarianism can account for the significance of justice as a subordinate ethical and political standard whose importance can be explained by the ultimate ethical principle that the right act is that which maximizes overall utility. In contrast, non-utilitarians often ascribe to justice those moral judgements which are routinely used to curb the application of utilitarian reasoning, while some go so far as to define ‘justice’ as a distributive ideal which totally excludes the aggregative goal of bringing about the greatest quantity of good (see pp. 2–20).
Tom Campbell

7. Justice as Desert: Responsibilities and Remuneration

Abstract
In Chapter 1 it was noted that in historical terms the idea that justice is a matter of people getting what they deserve is perhaps the most common and tenacious conception of justice. Indeed the internal connection between justice and desert used to be standardly cited as part of the very concept of justice itself. In recent times, however, desert has had to take its place as, at best, only one amongst many competing criteria of justice and sometimes it is excluded altogether from the list of relevant justicizing considerations.
Tom Campbell

8. Justice as Critique: Socialist Approaches

Abstract
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.
Tom Campbell

9. Justice as Empowerment: Feminist Approaches

Abstract
‘Feminism’, since the mid-19th century, has been associated with the view that women are systematically subjected to injustice and ought to have equal rights and rights to equality. The nature and causes of the injustices in question and the type of equality that women are due have evolved in line with general social developments in social structures and in feminist political theory. Liberal feminists have regarded justice as involving equal rights for women and men, first politically and then economically, and their great achievement has been to gain acceptance for the claim that there is no good reason to exclude people from basic civil, political, social and economic rights on the basis of gender and, more recently, that political and economic arrangements which disproportionately disadvantage women are unacceptable. The liberal feminist’s goal is equal rights in the sense of the same rights for men and women — so that gender is simply irrelevant in the distribution of benefits and burdens. Here the basic moral belief is that men and women are of equal worth. In this tradition feminist justice is about non-discrimination on the basis of gender, particularly in relation to equality of opportunity, both politically and in the workplace.
Tom Campbell

10. Justice as Democracy: Political Approaches

Abstract
Most contemporary liberal theorists of justice attempt to derive substantive principles of justice from some combination of debate, consent, information and impartiality. In many respects the early Rawls is the boldest of these since he seeks to bring together a decision-making model for institutionalizing informed and impartial consent with a separate claim that what comes out of this model are principles which we can independently evaluate as sound and acceptable standards of justice. Drawing on both sources of moral insight he seeks to make them mutually reinforcing by drawing them together through a process of critical reflection aimed at ‘reflective equilibrium’ (see p. 97). Having exposed himself on both these fronts — procedural and substantive — Rawls has attracted a barrage of criticism which has led him to retreat into a more secure but less daring position from which he holds himself out as doing no more than providing a path to a pragmatic political consensus in certain types of liberal society. Similar fates have befallen the less ambitious approach of Dworkin and the more simplistic theories of Nozick and Posner.
Tom Campbell

11. Global Justice: Cosmopolitan Approaches

Abstract
Theories of justice have, until recently, focused almost entirely on justice within particular states and communities and, to a lesser extent, on international justice, that is justice between nations. In recent times much more attention is paid to the idea that considerations of justice apply globally and not only within and between nation states. This global approach to justice is part of ‘cosmopolitanism’, the label revived to identify the belief that all human beings are part of the same world-wide community: citizens of the ‘cosmos’, rather than members of particular social and political groupings (Pogge 1992).
Tom Campbell

12. Justice Restored?

Abstract
When the first edition of this book came out in 1988 justice was the dominant concept within political philosophy. The impact of Rawls’s major work (A Theory of Justice, 1971) was still seminal, with competing theories, such as Nozick’s entitlement theory, vying for attention in what was the main frontier in social and political thought. Now we are in a post-Rawlsian era (Arneson 2006) in which his methodology looks too contrived, his principles seem culturally restrictive and simplistic in their prioritizations, and there are doubts as to the prospects of grand theories generally. In the second edition (2001) my concluding chapter was entitled ‘Justice in Eclipse?’, raising the question as to whether our attention had shifted from justice to human rights, perhaps in view of the growing impact of human rights in domestic law and international relations. With this third edition, at the end of the first decade of the 21st century, it is tempting to claim that justice has been restored to its rightful place at the core of political philosophy. Certainly the emergence of deep interest in global justice is significant, and fundamental concepts, such as justice, are increasingly being called in to assist with the difficult questions which arise when we try to understand human rights and determine their content. Then there is the burgeoning literature on equality, much of which is associated with ‘luck egalitarianism’ and its implicit revival of desert theory which, I argue, has particularly close associations with the idea of justice. It would appear that, after a brief eclipse, justice has been restored, at least to the mainstream of political philosophy.
Tom Campbell
Additional information