Distributive Justice: Aristotle's Nichomachean Philosophy And Social Justice

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Distributive Justice Distributive justice concerns the fair, just or equitable distribution of benefits and burdens. These benefits and burdens span all dimensions of social life and assume all forms, including income, economic wealth, political power, taxation, work obligations, education, shelter, health care, military service, community involvement and religious activities. Thus, justice arguments are often invoked in connection with minimum wage legislation, Affirmative Action policies, public education, military conscription, litigation, as well as with redistributive policies such as welfare, Medicare, aid to the developing world, progressive income taxes and inheritance taxes. Distributive justice enjoys a long and honored tradition in political, economic and social thought. It is central to Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics (1976) and Politics (1999). In modern political philosophy, it has been construed in broad terms and seen as a foundational for policy formation and analysis. Michael Walzer (1976), for example, writes that “Distributive justice is a large idea,” and for John Rawls (1976) “Justice is the first virtue of social institutions.” Thus, it is widely regarded as an important concept and influential force in philosophy and the social sciences. This description begs the question, however, of what, exactly, constitutes a “fair,” “just” or “equitable” distribution (we will use these terms interchangeably). It seems that justice terminology

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