The Idea of justice – Amartya Sen

An exploration of what justice means and should be vs our current model. The reader is cajoled to critically look at the current judicial and social system. In Sen’s ideal state justice and perfect order should be free from the domination of the will of the majority and one that is inclusive, non-parochial and humane therefore taking a world view into account.

Reference is given to Gautama’s exposure to “mortality, morbidity and disability, which agitated him greatly.” and the traditional Indian perspective of “nyaya” (Justice) which is basically where his ideal state is based in contrast to ‘niti” (rules).

Reference is given to Hobbes showing where the lives of people are “nasty brutish and short” and Dickens “In this little world in which children have their existence there is nothing so finely perceived and finely felt as injustice.”

Sen says, “What moves us, reasonably enough, is not the realisation that the world falls short of being completely just, which few of us expect, but that there are clearly remediable injustices around us which we want to eliminate.”

The book is in four segments – The Demands of Justice, Forms of Reasoning, Materials of Justice and Public Reasoning and Democracy.

This major philosophical work not based on abstract ideals or notions of what perfect institutions and rules might be, but from what the results of a system are practically, in the world. The importance of public reasoning and argues that a system of justice should require the agreement not just of the community which is making laws, but of outsiders who might be affected, or who might have valuable perspectives to offer. The methods and conclusions of the book can be used for many levels of intellectual activity not only those connected with justice. Probably the most ambitious work of Sen to date.

The Idea of justice - Amartya Sen

One thought on “The Idea of justice – Amartya Sen

  1. I am a big fan of Mr. Sen! and I love this book, it took quite a bit of time to digest, though I am completely satiated. Eagerly looking forward to his Next piece.

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