Justice New and Old

During the twentieth century a revolution took place in what we understand by the words “justice” and “injustice.”  Traditionally, as far back as we can go in history, these words always referred to actions, the way people treated other people. In the new idea, of “social justice,” the link between justice and responsibility has been broken.  What counts is not the actions we do as individuals, or that are done to us; what counts is the group we belong to.  Justice means “getting ours” as a group. T. Patrick Burke, the President of the Wynnewood Institute, investigates the relationship between these conceptions, the new and the old.  Are they compatible?  Do they have an equal ethical foundation?

Justice and Law Lecture Excerpt

In the last lecture I argued that the first and most basic of moral demands is to respect the freedom of the will, since this freedom is the source and foundation of the moral order.  And we have seen that from the fact of this freedom of the will and its attendant moral order there arises human dignity. Since we ourselves possess freedom of will, the first of moral demands in regard to ourself is to respect our own freedom of will and so our own dignity.  This means there are certain things we will not do to ourselves, in general things that diminish or deprive us of our natural freedom of the will without sufficient justification. What these might be is a subject for another time, since we are here concerned with classical liberalism, which is a philosophy of society….

Read his full lecture “Justice and Law”
Social Justice Lecture Excerpt

In previous chapters we saw that justice and injustice are concepts of ethical evaluation, and that all ethical evaluations or judgements are judgements about the quality of a will.  I argued that what is distinctive about justice in comparison with other ethical qualities such as courage or kindness is that justice is a quality of the individual will in relationship to other wills. The question of justice is a question about how a person should treat other persons.  Specifically, justice is the quality of respecting,  or being compatible with,  the freedom of other wills. Injustice is the quality of a will in virtue of which it infringes on the freedom of another will. For all unjust actions are coercive, and all unjustified coercion is by its nature unjust. That is, injustice always involves in some way or other the mistreatment of persons. Whether the mistreatment is deliberate or merely negligent or a….

Read his full lecture “Social Justice”