Why Social Justice Matters

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

With grace and wit, Brian Barry exposes the shoddy logic anddistortion of reality that underpins this ideology. Once weunderstand the role of the social structure in limiting options, wehave to recognize that really putting into practice ideas such asequal opportunity and personal responsibility would require afundamental transformation of almost all existing institutions.

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

The apparent stability of the status quo is delusory, heresponds: radical changes in our way of life are unavoidable.Whether these changes are for better or for worse depends partly onthe availability of a coherent set of principles and a programmeflowing from them that is capable of mobilizing the growingdiscontent with business as usual. That is, ultimately, why socialjustice 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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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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