Rethinking Justice

Emmanuel Levinas argues that justice is meaningful only to the extent that other persons are encountered in their individuality, as my neighbors, and not merely abstract citizens of a political community. That is, the political demand for justice arises from my ethical relationship with the other whose face I cannot look past. But despite his revolutionary ideas about the origins of justice, Levinas ultimately appeals to a very traditional view of justice in which persons are considered equal and comparable. and responsibilities and rights are distributed evenly among them. In response to Levinas, I argue that insofar as justice is constructed by and for the ethicalrelationship, it must also be deconstructed by that relationship. If one takes seriously Levinas’s claim that asymmetrical ethical responsibility is the origin of justice, then one must also reject Levinas’s suggestion that justice involves viewing persons and responsibilities as comparable and symmetrical
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