The Idea of Justice

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  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2011-05-31
  • Publisher: Belknap Pr

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Social justice: an ideal, forever beyond our grasp; or one of many practical possibilities? More than a matter of intellectual discourse, the idea of justice plays a real role in how-and how well-people live. And in this book the distinguished scholar Amartya Sen offers a powerful critique of the theory of social justice that, in its grip on social and political thinking, has long left practical realities far behind.The transcendental theory of justice, the subject of Senrs"s analysis, flourished in the Enlightenment and has proponents among some of the most distinguished philosophers of our day; it is concerned with identifying perfectly just social arrangements, defining the nature of the perfectly just society. The approach Sen favors, on the other hand, focuses on the comparative judgments of what is "more" or "less" just, and on the comparative merits of the different societies that actually emerge from certain institutions and social interactions.At the heart of Senrs"s argument is a respect for reasoned differences in our understanding of what a "just society" really is. People of different persuasions-for example, utilitarians, economic egalitarians, labor right theorists, noshy;-nonsense libertarians-might each reasonably see a clear and straightforward resolution to questions of justice; and yet, these clear and straightforward resolutions would be completely different. In light of this, Sen argues for a comparative perspective on justice that can guide us in the choice between alternatives that we inevitably face.

Author Biography

Amartya Sen, winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Economics, is Lamont University Professor at Harvard University. His many books include Rationality and Freedom (Harvard).

Table of Contents

Prefacep. vii
Acknowledgementsp. xxi
Introduction An Approach to Justicep. 1
The Demands of Justice
Reason and Objectivityp. 31
Rawls and Beyondp. 52
Institutions and Personsp. 75
Voice and Social Choicep. 87
Impartiality and Objectivityp. 114
Closed and Open Impartialityp. 124
Forms of Reasoning
Position, Relevance and Illusionp. 155
Rationality and Other Peoplep. 174
Plurality of Impartial Reasonsp. 194
Realizations, Consequences and Agencyp. 208
The Materials of Justice
Lives, Freedoms and Capabilitiesp. 225
Capabilities and Resourcesp. 253
Happiness, Well-being and Capabilitiesp. 269
Equality and Libertyp. 291
Public Reasoning and Democracy
Democracy as Public Reasonp. 321
The Practice of Democracyp. 338
Human Rights and Global Imperativesp. 355
Justice and the Worldp. 388
Notesp. 417
Name Indexp. 451
Subject Indexp. 462
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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