Why Social Justice Matters

Front Cover
Polity, Mar 4, 2005 - Law - 323 pages
3 Reviews
In the past twenty years, social injustice has increased enormously in Britain and the United States, regardless of the party in power. At the same time, the idea of social justice itself has been subverted, as the mantras of personal responsibility and equal opportunity have been employed as an excuse for doing nothing about the enrichment of the few at the expense of the many and for making ever harsher demands on the poor and vulnerable.

With grace and wit, Brian Barry exposes the shoddy logic and distortion of reality that underpins this ideology. Once we understand the role of the social structure in limiting options, we have to recognize that really putting into practice ideas such as equal opportunity and personal responsibility would require a fundamental transformation of almost all existing institutions.

Barry argues that only if inequalities of wealth and income are kept within a narrow range can equal prospects for education, health and autonomy be realized. He proposes a number of policies to achieve a more equal society and argues that they are economically feasible. But are they politically possible?

The apparent stability of the status quo is delusory, he responds: radical changes in our way of life are unavoidable. Whether these changes are for better or for worse depends partly on the availability of a coherent set of principles and a programme flowing from them that is capable of mobilizing the growing discontent with business as usual. That is, ultimately, why social justice matters.

  

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User Review  - vegetarian - LibraryThing

Read in here the 3 chapters on 'The cult of personal responsibility' then ask why there's so LITTLE 'personal accountability' for outcomes. Read full review

Contents

Preface
vii
Why We Need a Theory
3
The Machinery of Social Injustice
14
The Scope of Social Justice
27
Why Equal Opportunity?
37
Education
46
Health
70
The Making of the Black Gulag
95
Irresponsible Societies
154
Pathologies of Inequality
169
Wealth
186
Jobs and Incomes
200
Can We Afford Social Justice?
215
The Power of Ideas
233
How Change Happens
243
Meltdown?
251

The Idea of Meritocracy
109
The Abuse of Science
117
Responsibility versus Equality?
131
Rights and Responsibilities
142
Justice or Bust
261
Notes
274
Index
311
Copyright

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References to this book

Justice
Harry Brighouse
Limited preview - 2004
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About the author (2005)

Brian Barry is Lieber Professor of Political Philosophy at Columbia University.

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