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Two concepts of justice – and of its scope

Meckled-Garcia, S; (2016) Two concepts of justice – and of its scope. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy , 19 (5) pp. 534-554. 10.1080/13698230.2016.1183750. Green open access

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Abstract

I argue that there are two concepts of distributive justice in play in debates on whether principles of distributive justice apply to the global sphere. Critics of the idea that the scope of distributive justice is restricted assume, without argument, a particular conception of justice in which justice-based evaluations apply to basic structural institutional actions only instrumentally, whilst applying intrinsically to distributive outcomes for people. I call these outcomes-focused views. I show that at least one view in the literature on global justice, the agency argument, appeals to a distinct concept of social distributive justice where the descriptors ‘justice’ and ‘injustice’, intrinsically apply to the actions of certain types of institutional agents, and only derivatively to the description of states of affairs such as distributive outcomes. This alternative view is treatment-focused and deontological. It focuses on special goods that are only available as a matter of how one is treated by political institutions: relational-goods. It is also sensitive to considerations of fairness in practical reason in ways that outcomes-focused views are not. I show why, on this agency-focused approach, the scope of principles of distributive justice is restricted to how people who are subject to special institutional authority are treated. My main aim in this paper is to demonstrate that on a competitor approach to justice the anti-scope restriction arguments fail, and that the competitor approach is not obviously incoherent. Thus, criticising scope restriction by assuming an outcomes-focused approach to distributive justice begs the question against agency-focused arguments. This shows the real dispute is at a more fundamental level.

Type: Article
Title: Two concepts of justice – and of its scope
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/13698230.2016.1183750
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1080/13698230.2016.1183750
Language: English
Additional information: © 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in the Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy on 19th May 2016, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/13698230.2016.1183750
Keywords: Concept of justice, scope of distributive justice, global justice, fairness, relational justice, teleology, deontology, equal respect, equal concern
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Political Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1515909
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