Ethics Updates


Justice Theory

Justice in Theory

John Rawls John Rawls

Distributive Justice

Restorative Justice

Critique of Rawls' position on justice and institutions

  • Liam Murphy, "Institutions and the Demands of Justice" [PDF]; reprinted from Philosophy & Public Affairs 27, no. 4 (fall 1998): 251-291. A critique of Rawls' position on justice and institutions; Murphy argues that "all fundamental normative principles that apply to the design of institutions apply to the conduct of people."

Justice in Practice

Environmental Justice

MultiMedia Resources on Justice

A Bibliographical Survey of Justice Theory Lawrence M. Hinman, Ethics: A Pluralistic Approach to Moral Theory, 3rd ed.

Biliographical essays are drawn from Lawrence M. Hinman, Ethics: A Pluralistic Approach to Moral Theory, 3rd Edition [Wadsworth, 2002] © 2002

The literature on justice is vast, stretching back to Plato’s dialogues to the latest post-modernist critiques of justice. Here are some of the highlights.


Anthologies include Morality and Social Justice: Point Counterpoint, edited by Carol C. Gould, James P. Sterba, William Gaston, Milton Fiske. Tibor R. Machan, Robert Solomon, Alison M. Jaggar (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 1994) Robert C. Solomon and Mark C. Murphy, What Is Justice?, 2nd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999); Jonathan Westphal, ed., Justice (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1996); The Just Society, edited by Ellen Frankel Paul, Fred Miller, Jr., and Jeffrey Paul (Needham Heights: Cambridge University Press, 1995); Milton Fisk, Justice (Atlantic Highlands: Humanities Press, 1993); Will Kymlicka, ed., Local Justice: How Institutions Allocate Scarce Goods and Necessary Burdens (Newbury Park: Sage. 1992); Klaus R. Scherer, ed., Justice: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992); James P. Sterba, ed., Justice: Alternative Political Perspectives, 3rd ed. (Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1998). For an excellent overview of theories of justice (to which I am indebted in this presentation), see Julian Lamont, Distributive Justice,Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

John Rawls

John Rawls’ conception of justice dominates the literature. See his A Theory of Justice, revised edition (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999), originally published in 1973; Political Liberalism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996); The Law of People (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001); Collected Papers, edited by Samuel Freeman (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999); Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy, edited by Barbara Herman (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000); John Rawls, Justice as Fairness: A Restatement, edited by Erin Kelly (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001). For critiques, see Samuel R. Freeman, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Rawls (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002); Reading Rawls: Critical Studies on Rawls' 'A Theory of Justice', edited by Norman Daniels (Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 1990); Tomas Pögge, Realizing Rawls (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1990); Robert B. Talisse, On Rawls (Pacific Grove: Duxbury, 2000); Andrews Reath, Christine M. Korsgaard, and Barbara Herman, eds., Reclaiming the History of Ethics: Essays for John Rawls (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997); Chandran Kukathas, Rawls: A Theory of Justice and Its Critics (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1990); Robert Paul Wolff, Understanding Rawls: A Reconstruction and Critique of a Theory of Justice (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1971); and Thomas Nagel, The rigorous compassion of John Rawls. Justice, Justice, Shalt Thou Pursue, The New Republic (1999),.

Among the many other excellent books on justice, see Onora O’Neill, Bounds of Justice (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000) for a tightly-argued case for seeing justice in cosmopolitan terms, and especially for her discussion of transnational economic justice; Brian Berry, Justice as Impartiality (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996) and his Culture and Equality: An Egalitarian Critique of Multiculturalism (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001); James P. Sterba, Justice for Here and Now (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998) for both applications of the concept and an attempt to reconcile apparently conflicting accounts of justice; Robert C. Solomon, A Passion for Justice (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 1995) for a nuanced treatment of the affective dimension of justice; Patrick Riley, Leibniz' Universal Jurisprudence: Justice as the Charity of the Wise (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1996), for a notion of justice based on wisdom and love instead of the standard contractarian account; Geoffrey Cupit’s Justice as Fittingness (New York: Oxford, 1996) who argues that injustice is a form of unfitting treatment; James S. Fishkin, The Dialogue of Justice. Toward a Self-Reflective Society (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993); Jeffrey Reiman, Justice and Modern Moral Philosophy (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990); John E. Roemer, Theories of Distributive Justice (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1996.

Kant and Justice

On Kant and justice, see Thomas E. Hill, Jr. Respect, Pluralism and Justice: Kantian Perspectives (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000); .Allen D. Rosen, Kant’s Theory of Justice (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993), as well as the work of Onora O’Neill cited above..

Libertarian Conception of Justice

On the libertarian conception of justice, see especially Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State, and Utopia (New York: Basic Books, 1977); Loren E. Lomasky, Persons, Rights, and the Moral Community (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987); and G. A. Cohen, Self-Ownership, Freedom, and Equality (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995).

Pluralist Conceptions of Justice

On pluralist conceptions of justice, see Jon Elster, Local Justice: How Institutions Allocate Scarce Goods and Necessary Burdens (Newbury Park: Sage Publishers, 1992); Georgia Warnke, Justice and Interpretation (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1993) discusses the hermeneutical turn in theories of justice; Michael Walzer, Spheres of Justice: A Defense of Pluralism and Equality (New York: Basic Books, 1990); David Miller and Michael Walzer, Pluralism, Justice, and Equality (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995); Michael J. Sandel, Liberalism and the Limits of Justice, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996); William A. Galston, Liberal Pluralism: The Implications of Value Pluralism for Political Theory and Practice (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002).

Race and Justice

The literature on race and justice is extensive. See especially Bernard Boxill, Blacks and Social Justice, Revised Edition (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 1992); Gertrude Ezorsky, Racism and Justice: The Case for Affirmative Action (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991). On reparations, see When Sorry Isn’t Enough: The Controversy over Apologies and Reparations for Human Injustice (New York:: New York University Press, 1998)

Just War Theory

On just war theory, see the excellent overview by Brian D. Orend, "War ,in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy ( Michael Walzer’s Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations, 3rd ed. (New York: Basic Books, 1979) remains the classic text, while Jean B. Elstain’s Just War Theory (New York: New York University Press, 1994) is an excellent anthology. On Walzer, see Brian Orend, Michael Walzer on War and Justice (Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press, 2001); also see his War and International Justice : A Kantian Perspective (Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2001).

Retributive Justice

On retributive justice, see Robert M. Baird and Stuart E. Rosenbaum, Punishment and the Death Penalty: The Current Debate (Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1995); Michael Davis, To Make the Punishment Fit the Crime: Essays in the Theory of Criminal Justice (Boulder: Westview Press, 1992); Jeffrey Reiman, The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison, 6th ed. (Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 2000).

Environmental Justice

On environmental justice, see K. S. Shrader-Frechette. Environmental Justice: Creating Equity, Reclaiming Democracy (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002); Luke W. Cole and Sheila Foster, From the Ground up: Environmental Racism and the Rise of the Environmental Justice Movement (New York: New York University Press, 2000); David Schlosberg, Environmental Justice and the New Pluralism: The Challenge of Difference for Environmentalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999); Andrew Dobson, Justice and the Environment: Conceptions of Environmental Sustainability and Dimensions of Social Justice(New York: Oxford University Press, 1999); Peter S. Wenz Environmental Justice (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998); Benjamin J. Richardson, ed., Environmental Justice (New York: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1999);

International Justice

On international justice, see Robin Attfield and Barry Wilkins, eds., International Justice and the Third World (New York: Routledge, 1992); On international economic justice, see Amaryta Sen, On Ethics and Economics (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1989) and Inequality Reexamined (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995) and, most recently, Development as Freedom (Garden City: Anchor Books, 2000).