Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Summer 6-14-1995

Keywords

constructivism, ethics, justice, moral theory, Rawls, social context

Disciplines

Ethics and Political Philosophy

Abstract

This essay prods moral philosophy towards more explicit attention to the political constructions of injustice. I do not appeal to practical or political relevance, but advance a particular kind of constructivist interpretation of moral argumentation (constructivism+) in which our interpretive horizons are extended to include the implicit views of social action, broadly construed—from the macro- to the micro-social, and from the past to the present and the possible—built into philosophical arguments. I challenge the idea that, in order to oppose injustice, we must first articulate and justify a coherent conception of justice and then theorize the social, constitutional, legal, or cultural arrangements through which such justice could be implemented. My argument moves through three levels: 1. contesting the separability of these steps by demonstrating that views of social action are embedded in, not merely derivable from, the well-known formulations of John Rawls in A Theory of Justice. (Thus reconstructed, Rawls is more coherent than most moral philosophers have considered him to be); 2. giving priority to moral justification while leaving the social context in the background, scarcely analyzed, burdens our thinking about in/justice; 3. in order to oppose injustice, it is not the case that we must first articulate and justify a coherent conception of justice.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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