Starting from Injustice: Political Theory for the Disadvantaged

MAR 27, 2017 | 4:30 PM TO 6:30 PM



The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue




March 27, 2017: 4:30 PM-6:30 PM




Center for the Study of Women and Society


From Plato to Rawls, political philosophers have focused on justice. And from Cicero to Dwarkin, they have assumed or posited equality as a fundamental requirement for justice, although universal human equality is a very recent posit in comparison to equality within privileged groups. But neither ideals of justice nor equality address injustice when some are treated justly and others are not. Sometimes this contrast in treatment motivates inquiry. For instance: How can formal equality coexist with practical inequality? When is practical inequality unjust? Applicative justice may bridge the gap between those justly and unjustly treated, by applying the rules and practices of justice enjoyed by the former, to the latter. More generally, the progressive theorist should provide a theory of injustice, instead of a theory of justice––there is little if any justification for the claim that we need to understand what ideal justice is, before we can correct injustice. Between ideal justice and real injustice, there are many contending interests and practices and a theory of injustice is thereby required to address those dynamic social structures which result in injustice. Injustice theory should also be able to explain why some forms of disadvantage are unjust, while others may be purely unfortunate, and determine whether this difference between deserts and luck even matters.