Writing about what I have been reading and encountering in the media.
|Today, I am reading an article concerned with “justice theory” and “distributive justice.” So far, I think I understand that justice is a social contract in that there is broad agreement in society on the definition of Justice. It is clear from the article, however, that there are a couple of broad agreements in our society about that. At least that is one of the pieces of confusion I am experiencing in my reading. The author, Jerome Carl Wakefield, decided to focus on “distributive justice:” the “sharing” of the products of society. These products are the things that any human needs to participate in society. They include meeting survival needs, learning the skills required for social participation, economic resources, and self-esteem. In Mr. Wakefield’s discussion, he briefly critiques “social constructionist” thinking. He focuses heavily on the thinking of Rawles. (I have one of his books and hope to wade through the 674 pages.)
This is philosophical writing and there are assumptions with challenges to assumptions, and the goal of the Wakefield article is to operationalize the thinking in a way that clarifies the goals and functions of the social work profession. I have not done a lot of reading of philosophical writing in the past. I can be tedious, but I am finding it interesting. My primary goal is to understand the nuances in the meaning of the word “Justice.” I want to be able to talk about it with confidence that I know at least something about it. I also want to have a more defined approach to my political thinking and a good deal of the political thinking I do focuses on the issue of Distributive Justice.
My, starting position on the subject is that a person with the fewest “products of society” should have enough to stay physically healthy so he/she doesn’t become a breeding ground for communicable disease. That person should have enough resources so they don’t have to steal to survive. I don’t want people “dying in the streets” of starvation. I want universal sanitation so we don’t have breeding grounds of disease in the waste we produce as living beings. I believe that pockets of extreme poverty are a danger to all of society, whether you can see them or not. I also know that in an upwardly mobile society, there exists downward mobility. Things can go awry and people with excessive resources can lose them. The older we get, the higher the risk that we will become partially or completely dependent on others to survive. I want effective caregiving everywhere, so I don’t land in one of the “bad places.” It will be interesting to read how these writers sort this out.