The Idea of Justice

Glen Newey writes:

At some time in the past the idea took hold that social justice was all about the state’s hoovering up resources and then blowing them at needy or deserving recipients. Some of these resources, money for example, were material, and others, like opportunities, were virtual. But there were various problems. One was that there had to be just one hoover, the state, sucking in goods, although other providers, being plural, threatened to disrupt the favoured distribution by shunting them around for purposes of their own. Some, and not only libertarians, wondered whether the state’s cornering the market in resources might not frustrate the point of social justice itself – or even directly negate it, if for example the point was to make people autonomous. Then the resources had to be treated as homogeneous to satisfy the principles that were meant to justify redistributing them.

(LRB 28 January 2010)

Other Titles of Interest