Distributive Justice: The Environmental Justice Movement

1722 Words7 Pages
Cassondra Britton
Distributive Justice
Environmental justice, though mistakenly thought of to be an environmental movement, is a strong social justice movement. This movement is focused on the rights of those disproportionally affected by their harmful environment. Distributive justice is an essential concept in the understanding and progression of the Environmental Justice movement. Distributive justice is most simply defined by the “fairness” in the allocation of resources. For example, if only one group of people in a community had access to the Internet then everyone without the Internet is inherently disadvantaged from the lack of a critical resource. This principle contributes to the understanding of the Environmental Justice movement
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Shrader-Frechette states that the understanding distributive justice is essential for attaining environmental justice (24). This is because many theorists, such as Rawles, have outlined that justice is defined by distribution. For the philosophical concept of justice can only exist in an ideal society. The definition of justice as it pertains to the social justice movement of environmental justice would be an equal cooperation and allocation of resources within society (25). If the world was truly just there would be no one who is disadvantaged, for the social institutions would impartially and fairly assign assets and duties. However, the world is not like this for social institutions are imperfect. Therefore, as a student of environmental justice you must examine the concept of distributive justice, in order to understand if there is an equal allocation of necessary resources to create a level playing field. A situation may seem fair because everyone in society has an equal ability to participate in the justice system, but just having the ability to participate in the justice system does mean that the system is fair. The exercise in class where we were asked to make a poster precisely demonstrated the concept of distributive justice.…show more content…
The Warren County case sparked the environmental justice movement due to its “inequitable distribution of environmental degradation and systematic exclusion of the poor and people of color from environmental decision making is perpetuated by traditional environmental organizations, also known as mainstream environmentalism, and by environmental regulatory agencies”( McGurty, 302). The mainstream environmental movement addressed in this quote, at this time, was an elitist movement made up white middle-aged men (McGurty, 303). The EPA in particular was part of this elitism, and therefore this environment allowed for a gap between the people who needed the EPA’s help and those who were part of the EPA. This divide kept those who were affected negatively by their environment from getting resources from the EPA on a national level. On a governmental level people of color and the economically disadvantaged were not participating in the environmental movement or getting the resources government agencies could provide. Therefore, demonstrating a lack of distributive justice on a national

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