Political philosophy Review Example

‘Social-Justice’ is the central issue of present day’s politics, economics, sociology, social philosophy, jurisprudence and the allied studies. Dealing with social justice, very first I will discuss about traditional concept of justice. Justice is more a matter of individual feeling than a matter of physical experience. 1 Justice is also related with time and circumstances. What was to be just in the past is no longer considered to be so. For example, owning slave was just in ancient Greece and Rome, but in modern age it will be a crime against to humanity.

Thus justice is a changeable concept. It is changeable according to time and place. Justice reflects a pattern of social norm and values and the individual conduct is to be evaluated on its basis. In this sense justice becomes the criterion for judging the individuals in a society. According to D. D. Rapheal, “Justice is the foundation of social morality, and is concerned with the general ordering of society. “2 In dealing with the concept of social-justice, it is essential to distinguish between the traditional idea of ‘justice’ and modern idea of ‘social justice’.

The idea of social justice, however, is relatively recent origin and largely a product of the modern social and economic developments. The traditional concept of justice, variously described as conservative or orthodox concept, focused on the qualities on ‘just’ (or virtuous) man, while the modern concept of social justice postulates a ‘just-society’. 3 The Ancient Greek and Hindu Approach of Justice In ancient Greek and Hindu approach, the justice concerned with functioning of duties, not with notion of rights. Both Plato and Aristotle hold the state to be prior to the individual.

Plato, in particular, identifies justice with the performance of duties befitting one’s class. Plato’s theory of justice which sought to prescribed duties of different citizens and required them to develop virtues befitting those duties. For Plato, justice is the highest virtue of society. He believed that the “principle of division of labor, that each man and more specially each class, should do that work, for which he is fitted and no other… (is)… justice. “4 Aristotle does not deal with justice in the ‘Politics’ directly.

Aristotle believes that the last end of the state is to provide the good life to its citizen. He wrote, “While it (the Polis) is groups for the sake of mere life, it exists for the sake of good life. ”5 In ancient Indian tradition, we found two terms, namely ‘Dandaniti’ and ‘Dharma’, which concern with justice. ‘Dandaniti’ is very much close to modern notions of justice (Law and punishment). It is suggests to legal aspect of justice. Dharma is another name of code of duties and justice is nothing but virtuous conduct with dharma.

Thus, like Platonic justice, the Hindu tradition linked justice with performance of duties prescribed by dharma. Modern Approach to Justice: In modern times basically two approaches, on justice, are in central debate. One is Liberal approach and second is Marxist approach. Liberal’s argument is, the individual’s rights and liberty are necessary for just society. While the Marxist approach rely upon the equality for just society. They believe that unless and until the existing inequalities in society will not be removed, society will not be just.

But in the contemporary political philosophy, liberty vs. equality debate about justice has been over. The composition of justice is liberty, equality and rights. Barker regards justice as a synthesis of different values necessary for an organized system of human relation. Liberal Approach of Justice In modern liberal thought “justice” is defined in terms of rights of individuals. The rights of individuals flow from law and the state is limited by these rights. So in liberal tradition, justice becomes a disposition to give everyone’s his rights (or his due).

The liberals lay emphasis on liberty of individual in all spheres of life; their main concern is with political justice. Their formula for economic justice is ‘laissez faire’ or free market economy. The modern liberal view of justice developed in the writings of John Locke, Bentham, John Stuart Mill, Spencer and ? Research Scholar, Department of Political Science, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi { 37 } Shodh Drishti, Vol. 3, No. 7, October-December, 2012 ISSN : 0976-6650 Adam Smith. More recently its development, we can see, in the writings of Nozick, Ralws, Hayak and etc.

The rights of individual were the core issues of Locke’s political philosophy. It has been remarked that Locke was an individualist. He believed that the protection of individual rights, and preservation of the common good were one and the same thing. Thus, liberal political theory regards, justice as the function of rights and rights are the creation of law. Marxist Approach of Justice Marxist believes that the state is class organization. In the ‘Communist Manifesto’, Marx and Engels declared that the history of human society is the history of class-struggle.

In the capitalist society, as Marxist believes, “there is a democracy that is curtailed, wretched false, and a democracy only for the rich, for the minority. “6 The entire super structure, laws, moralities, law-courts, police force are all designed to rain-force the supremacy of the dominant class. In this society justice is simply the interest of the economically dominant, the bourgeoisie, and its interest lies in the perpetual exploitation of the proletariat. According to Marxist approach, the source of injustice is the private ownership on the means of production, which create the social divisions into bourgeoisie and proletariat.

The abolition of private property will inevitably create a classless society and result in the withering away of the state, and finally, the emergence of a communist society. And it will be the ideal state of justice. Concept of Social Justice The concept of social justice emerged out of a process of evolution of social norms, order, law and morality. It laid emphasis upon the just action and creates intervention in the society by enforcing the rules and regulations based on the principles of social equality.

The term ‘Social-Justice’ consist by two words: one is social and second is justice. The term ‘social’ is concern with all human beings who lives in society and term ‘justice’ is related with liberty, equality and rights. Thus social justice is concerned with, to ensure liberty, provide equality and maintain individual rights to every human being of society. In other words, to securing the highest possible development of the capabilities of all members of the society may be called social justice. But, the terms ‘social justice’ is very much elusive cannot capture empirically.

Krishna Iyer 7 in his book ‘Justice and Beyond’ has rightly proclaims “social justice is not an exact static or absolute concept, measurable with precision or getting into fixed world. It is flexible, dynamic and relative. ” In fact, the emergence of just man, just action and just state of affairs in society seems to be a manifestation of social justice. MacCormick regards, “equal well-being of individuals as basis to social justice. “8 Rousseau argued that men are equal by nature but the institution of private property has made them unequal and further perpetuated inequalities.

Therefore, the perfection of man lies in the improvement of society that can be done by remarking man by cultivating natural feelings and sentiments which guarantee equality and social-justice. 9 The aim of social justice of reordering of the society so as to eliminate the source of injustice in social relations, such as discrimination on the basis of caste, sex, religion, race, region etc. On other hand, social justice may require protective discrimination in favor of the downtrodden, underprivileged, weaker sections of society.

There so many definitions given by the various theorist of social justice. So it becomes problematic to define it in common manner or common way. But, each conceptualization is concerned with the distributive character for imparting justice. Frankena10 has defined social justice as any system of distribution and redistribution which is governed by valid moral principles. For Frankena, the concept of just society should emphasize on the principles and practical aspect of social justice. Thus, he conceives social justice as a part of political justice that emphasizes to create just society.

11 In the view of former chief Justice of India Gajendragadkar, the concept of social justice has dual objectives of ‘removing all inequality’ and affording equal opportunities and ‘economic activities of all the citizens. 12 His view also emphasize to equal distribution of economic goods and opportunities. John Rawls and Robert Nozick also emphasize on distributive character of justice. For Nozick historical entitlement is an important element of distributive justice where the society is aware of its wrongs and has an increased interest in compensation.

Therefore, for him, backward looking concepts are important that address the distribution of goods in society as social justice. John Rawls conceptualizes { 38 } Concept of Social Justice in Political Thought with Special Focus on Gandhi and Ambedkar justice as fairness where there is desirability of advantage for the marginalized groups in some respect. In the border perspective, social justice deals with the regulation of wage, profits, protection of individual rights through the legal system of allocation of goods and resources.

In different words social justice means availability of equal social opportunities for the development of personality to all the people in the society, without any discrimination on the basis of caste, sex or race. No one should be deprived, basis on these differences, because these are those condition which are essential for social development. Therefore, the issue of social justice is associated with social equality and individual rights. Social justice can be made available only in a social system where the exploitation of man by man is absent, and where privileges of the few are not built upon the miseries of the many.

13 The core element of social justice is equal social worth which required that citizens be guaranteed certain social rights as well as the civil and political rights. The idea of social justice demands freedom, equality and other human rights to secure to greatest happiness and common good of human beings. But, Frankena says, the notion of social justice goes beyond the principle of equality to the principle of agreements in society where there is non-injury, noninterference and non-impoverishment. For him, social justice is giving special attention to people though it may entail any sense of inequality of treatment.

14 Finally, the core concept of social justice is, ‘men are equal in their lives’, they should enjoy equal freedom and rights in society. Thus the ‘social justice is an intrinsic virtue of society’. M. K. Gandhi’s View of Social Justice M. K. (1869-1948) did not address the question of justice such as other thinkers and philosophers done. There is no discussion in his writings on the concept or the theory of social justice independently. Even then the justice is the parameters of all his ideas. Gandhi was pioneer of the movement for social justice in India.

Before to Gandhi, poets, saints and social reformers had pay attention on the social injustice resulting from caste discriminations and from the practice of untouchability. Social justice is a multidimensional concept. Which is looking in Gandhi’s various thought; such as in the concept of truth and non-violence, concept of Ramrajya, Swaraj, Sarvodaya, Satyagraha and Trusteeship theory. The philosophical notions of these theories of Gandhi provide the premise of the just social, economic and political order. In these contexts we can be seen Gandhi’s conception of social justice.

Gandhi’s idea for decentralization of power and authority is one safeguard for individual freedom. Gandhi wrote in Harijan dated 26 July, 1942, “My idea of village swaraj is that it is complete republic, independent of its neighbors for its own vital wants, and yet interdependent for many others in which dependence is a necessity. “15 Panchayat Raj was for Gandhi the arrangement for investing the people with legitimate political authority to manage their affairs. It was also designed to free villages of the economic exploitation and political domination of the cities.

Gandhi’s Panchayati Raj safeguards the liberty of the individual and of the village community as a whole for their full moral development. Gandhi laid emphasis upon human equality. He was aware that political institutions are relevant only to the extent economic well being of the people and secure social justice to them. To quote Gandhi, “Economic equality of my conception does not mean that everyone would literally have the same amount. In simply means that everybody should have enough for his or her needs…. ” 16 For economic justice Gandhi provides five alternatives; they are followings: 1.

Decentralisation of money and power, 2. Cottage and small scale industries, 3. Opposition of Consumerism, 4. Equal distribution and 5. Trusteeship. Gandhi suggested that, “It also means that the cruel inequality that obtains today will be removed by purely non-violent means. “17 Gandhi’s passion for economic justice can be seen in his ideas of bread labour, trusteeship and decentralised economy. Gandhi had implicit faith in varnashram dharma. He had believed the way to achieve complete social equality and justice was that everyone observed his or her Varna dharma strictly in a spirit of duty and service.

For Gandhi, the ancient Vedic doctrine of four-fold social division of labour known as ‘varnadharma’ is based on principle of “justice as fairness rather than equality. ” 18 According to Gandhi the { 39 } Shodh Drishti, Vol. 3, No. 7, October-December, 2012 ISSN : 0976-6650 Varna-dharma and the caste are not one and the same. 19 Gandhi tried to fight out social injustice on four fronts: social moral, political, economic and educational. On social plane, Gandhi started a crusade against untouchability and caste system by attacking the very system, much against the will of Hindu orthodoxy and conservatism.

He strongly criticizes untouchabaility. In his words, “For the general persecution of the lower orders of Hinduism, especially the so-called untouchable, I am as a Hindu doing penance every movement of my life. ” 20 Another he wrote, “I have been saying that if untouchability stays Hinduism goes. “21 For Gandhi, removal of untouchability means love and service for the whole world, and it thus merges into ahimsa. Thus there are no a specific theory of justice in Gandhian thought, yet his theories of panchayati raj, trusteeship, varnashram, Sarvodaya and Ram Rajya are strong evidence of his concern with the problem of social justice.

B. R. Ambedkar and Social Justice B. R. Ambedkar is one of the major spokesmen of the depressed classes in India. It is a fact that Babasaheb Ambedkar did not propound any specific definition or theory of ‘social-justice’ per se. However, in the light of principles enshrined in the theory of social justice as propounded by Plato and Rawls, one can infer basic cultural and structural principles of social justice embodied in the thoughts of Babasaheb Ambedkar. 22 Dr. Ambedkar was one of the pioneer of social justice is India. It was Ambedkar who provided new dimensions to the concept of justice.

We regard him as the ‘Champion of Social justice. ‘ He was himself a victim of social injustice, faced its difficulties; and he not tolerated the injustice, but boldly fought against them. Ambedkar had a liberal concept of justice. Like Gandhi, for Ambedkar, justice is simply another name of liberty, equality and fraternity. ’23 In this sense the core value of Ambedkar concept of justice is human equality, equal distribution of welfare materials and discrimination less society. Thus, the spirit of social justice, according to Ambedkar gives a significant place to mutual sympathy and respect.

Ambedkar was influenced by the writings of the world’s great master of human equality and sympathy, Lord Budha. He was also influenced by John Dewy, Carlyl, Karl Marx, Kabir, Mahatma Phule and other rationalists. Sympathy, equality and liberty are main constituents for the uplift of an individual. Hinduism is destitute of these, so Ambedkar conversed to Buddhism, because Buddhism comprises equality, love, sympathy and fraternity. Ambedkar not only conceptualize the principles of social justice, but also operationalized them for the uplift of the most marginalized sections of Indian society- the Dalits.

For Ambedkar, equality is the soul of a nation, soul of democracy; He proclaimed, “Equality may be fiction but nonetheless one must accept it as the governing principle. “24 After India’s political freedom, for dispensing social justice in the wake of emerging democracy in a hierarchically arranged society, Ambedkar discussed the operationalization of principles of equality, liberty and fraternity, which were considered to be the cardinal principles of any democracy. He argued that, “we must… not… be content with more political democracy.

We must make sure our political democracy a social democracy as well. ” 25 In his own words, “What does social democracy mean? It means a way of life which recognizes liberty, equality and fraternity as the principles of life. These principles of liberty, equality and fraternity are not to be treated as separate items of trinity. “26 Ambedkar played most significant role for the most marginalized community (untouchables) of Indian society. It is difficult to conceptualize the social justice in Indian society to untouchables without acknowledging the role of Ambedkar.

He was also a victim of Hindu traditions. He was the first who saw the problems of Dalits as citizen with specific social, economic and political rights. It is results of his effort that the completely new type of consciousness emerged among the marginalized community. Ambedkar proved that the problems of Dalits were essentially political. Ambedkar opined, “It is wrong to say that the problem of untouchables is social problem. For, it is quite unlike the problems of dowry, window remarriage, age of consent, etc. , which are illustrations of what are properly called social problems.

Essentially, it is a problem of quite a different nature in as much as it is a problem of securing, to a minority, liberty and equality of opportunity at the hands of a hostile majority which believes in the denial of liberty and equal opportunity of the majority and conspires to enforce it policy on the minority, { 40 } Concept of Social Justice in Political Thought with Special Focus on Gandhi and Ambedkar viewed in this light, the problem of the untouchables in fundamentally a political problem. 27 Ambedkar emphasized on acquiring political power for untouchables.

He wanted to be assured that the untouchables (Dalits) would also have a share in self-government, as without it the ‘self-government’ would mean a government to rule over the already depressed class. Conclusion Justice in short, is about giving each person what he or she is ‘due’ often seen as his or her ‘just desserts’. In other sense justice can be applied to the distribution of any ‘goods’ in society: freedom, rights, wealth, leisure and so on. Justice is a changeable concept, according to time and circumstances.

Social justice refers to a morally justifiable distribution of material or social rewards, notably wealth, income and social status. Many take social justice to imply equality, even viewing it as a specifically socialist principle. Due to definitions of social justice it becomes problematic to what is clear meaning of social justice. There are contradiction about the principle of social justice, but the practical aspect of social justice concern with the liberty equality and fraternity. References : 1. Nilanjana Jain; The Problem of Justice in Political Theory and State Practice; Anamika Publishers and Distributors, New Delhi, 2005, p.

15. 2. D. D. Rapheal; Problems of Political Philosophy; London Macmillan 1979, p. 105. 3. O. P. Gauba; Dimensions of Social Justice, National Publishing House, New Delhi, 1983, p. 2. 4. A. D. Lindsay; Introduction; The Republic of Plato, p. XXXV. 5. The Politics; Aristotle, translated by E. Barker, Oxford University Press, 1962, p. 5. 6. Lenin, The state and Revolution, p. 109. 7. Krishna Iyer, Justice and Beyond, Deep and Deep Publication, New Delhi, 1982, p. 63. 8. MacCormick, Justice: An Unoriginal Position, Oxford University Press, 1982, pp. 84-102. 9. ‘Globalization and Social Justice’, ed. by P. G. Jogdand, P. P. Bansode, N.

G. Meshram, Rawat Publications Jaipur, 2008, pp. 1-2. 10. W. K. Frankena, Quoted on Theme Paper ‘Constitution of India in Percept and Practice’ (25-26 April, 1992) Lok Sabha Secretariat, New Delhi, p. 4. 11. W. K. Frankena, ‘The Concept of Social Justice’, in Brandt Richard (ed. ) Social Justice, New Jersy: Printice Hall Inc. , 1962, p. 2. 12. Gajendragadkar, ‘Law Equality and Social Justice’, Bombay Asian Publication, 1969, p. 47. 13. S. Waseem Ahamad and M. Ashraf Ali, ‘Social Justice and The Constitution of India’, From the Indian Journal of Political Science, Vol. LXVII, No. 4, Oct. Dec. 2006, pp. 767-762. 14. W. K.

Frankena, Ibid, 1962, p. 17. 15. Quoted from J. S. Mathur and A. S. Mathur, author, Economic Thought of Mahatma Gandhi, Chaitanya, Allahabad, 1962, p. 323. 16. ‘Harijan’, 22 December 1933, p. 2. 17. ‘Harijan’, 18 August 1940, p. 253. 18. Young India, Ch. XXXI. 19. There is nothing is common between Varnashram and Caste. Caste is undoubtedly a drag upon Hindu progress, Yung India, 20 Oct. 1927 p. 355, also see, “varna has nothing to do with caste. Caste is an excrescence….. Upon Hinduism” young India, 24 Nov. 1927, p. 390. 20.

Young India, 17 Nov. 1927, p. 384. 21. Harijan, 29 Aug. 1936, p. 226. 22. Globalization and Social Justice, ed.by P. G. Jogdand, P. P. Bansode, N. G. Meshram, Rawat Publications Jaipur, 2008, p. 107 23. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, Writing and Speeches, Vol. 3, 1987, p. 25 24. Quoted form, Ambedkar and Social Justice ed. by A. K. Majumdar and Bhanwar Singh, Radha Publication, New Delhi, 1997, p. 26 25. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar: Writings and Speeches, Vol. 13, Education Department, Government of Maharashtra, Mumbai, 1994. p. 216. 26. Ibid, p. 216. 27. What Congress and Gandhi have done to the Untouchables” in Babasaheb Ambedkar: Writings and Speeches, Vol. 9, Education Department, Government of Maharashtra, Mumbai, 1991, pp. 190-91. ?