CRJU 2220 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Divine Command Theory, John Stuart Mill, Distributive Justice

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26 Nov 2017
Justice is the legal or philosophical theory by which fairness is administered. The concept of
justice differs in every culture. An early theory of justice was set out by the Ancient Greek
philosopher Plato in his work The Republic. Advocates of divine command theory argue that
justice issues from God. In the 17th century, theorists like John Locke argued for the theory
of natural law. Thinkers in the social contract tradition argued that justice is derived from
the mutual agreement of everyone concerned. In the 19th century, utilitarian thinkers
including John Stuart Mill argued that justice is what has the best consequences. Theories of
distributive justice concern what is distributed, between whom they are to be distributed,
and what is the proper distribution. Egalitarians argued that justice can only exist within the
coordinates of equality. John Rawls used a social contract argument to show that justice,
and especially distributive justice, is a form of fairness. Property rights theorists (like
Robert Nozick) take a deontological view of distributive justice and argue that property
rights-based justice maximizes the overall wealth of an economic system. Theories of
retributive justice are concerned with punishment for wrongdoing. Restorative justice (also
sometimes called "reparative justice") is an approach to justice that focuses on restoring
what is good, and necessarily focuses on the needs of victims and offenders.
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