Social justice is defined as justice exercised within a society, particularly as it is exercised by and among the various social classes of that society. A socially just society is defined by its advocates and practitioners as being based on the principles of equality and solidarity; this pedagogy also maintains that the socially just society both understands and values human rights, as well as recognizing the dignity of every human being. The Constitution of the International Labour Organization affirms that "universal and lasting peace can be established only if it is based upon social justice."Furthermore, the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action treats social justice as a purpose of the human rights education. The term and modern concept of "social justice" was coined by the Jesuit Luigi Taparelli in 1840 based on the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas and given further exposure in 1848 byAntonio Rosmini-Serbati. The phrase has taken on a very controverted and variable meaning, depending on who is using it. The idea was elaborated by the moral theologian John A. Ryan, who initiated the concept of a living wage. Father Coughlin also used the term in his publications in the 1930s and the 1940s. It is a part of Catholic social teaching, the Protestants' Social Gospel, and is one of the Four Pillars of the Green Partyupheld by green parties worldwide. Social justice as a secular concept, distinct from religious teachings, emerged mainly in the late twentieth century, influenced primarily by philosopher John Rawls. Some tenets of social justice have been adopted by those on theleft of the political spectrum.
Theories of social justice
Social justice from religious traditions
Main article: Tikkun olam
In To Heal a Fractured World: The Ethics of Responsibility, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks states that social justice has a central place inJudaism. One of Judaism’s most distinctive and challenging ideas is its ethics of responsibility reflected in the concepts of simcha("gladness" or "joy"), tzedakah ("the religious obligation to perform charity and philanthropic acts"), chesed ("deeds of kindness"), andtikkun olam ("repairing the world"). Christianity
Main article: Catholic social teaching
Catholic social teaching consists of those aspects of Roman Catholic doctrine which relate to matters dealing with the collective aspect of humanity. A distinctive feature of the Catholic social doctrine is their concern for the poorest members of society. Two of the seven key areas of "Catholic social teaching" are pertinent to social justice: * Life and dignity of the human person: The foundational principle of all "Catholic Social Teaching" is the sanctity of all human life and the inherent dignity of every human person. Human life must be valued above all material possessions. * Preferential option for the poor and vulnerable: Catholics believe Jesus taught that on the Day of Judgement God will ask what each person did to help the poor and needy: "Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me." The Catholic Church believes that through words, prayers and deeds one must show solidarity with, and compassion for, the poor. The moral test of any society is "how it treats its most vulnerable members. The poor have the most urgent moral claim on the conscience of the nation. People are called to look at public policy decisions in terms of how they affect the poor." Even before it was propounded in the Catholic social doctrine, social justice appeared regularly in the history of the Catholic Church: * The term "social justice" was adopted by the Jesuit Luigi Taparelli in the 1840s, based on the work of St. Thomas Aquinas. He wrote extensively in his journal Civiltà Cattolica, engaging both capitalist and socialist theories from a natural law viewpoint. His...
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