Why Justice Matters

Philosophical Papers 38 (2):157-181 (2009)
This paper assesses Brian Barry's attempt in Why Social Justice Matters to argue the importance of social justice. Barry seeks to dismiss the ideological misunderstandings that have prevented recognition of the importance of social justice. He also suggests that a robust conception of social justice will be needed to guide policies that solve the problems of the modern world. I argue that the issue of social justice has suffered neglect because of the influence of different ideas of social justice than Barry's rather than a misunderstanding among politicians and media pundits of generally shared intuitions of justice. These different ideas of justice must be shown to be wanting. In doing this, I argue that any adequate theory of social justice must address the issue of the fairness of starting points in peoples' lives. I point out that any such theory requires such revolutionary change that it contradicts the presuppositions of public policy and thus cannot serve to guide public policy solutions to the problems that Barry wants addressed. I argue that a 'non-ideal' theory of justice and principles for making unjust societies fairer, with more modest proposals for change, will better serve as a guide to public policy
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2011, 2014
DOI 10.1080/05568640903146492
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 34,581
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Nicomachean Ethics. Aristotle - 1999 - Courier Dover Publications.
If You're an Egalitarian, How Come You're so Rich.G. A. Cohen - 2000 - The Journal of Ethics 4 (1-2):1-26.

View all 14 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

How Egalitarian is Rawls's Theory of Justice?Ian Edgell Hunt - 2010 - Philosophical Papers 39 (2):155-181.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles


Added to PP index

Total downloads
31 ( #196,915 of 2,268,375 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
4 ( #106,593 of 2,268,375 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature