Monday, February 18, 2008

Some Points on Conservative Distributive Justice

More detail later, but just to sum up at the moment:

If you have your health (and liberty), then you don't have a basis to claim that you are a victim of distributive injustice.

However, an individual's remediable ill-health is not evidence (conclusive or even prima facie) of distributive injustice.

("Health" here is broadly construed, such that ill-health includes the poor bodily states of a person who cannot procure enough food or shelter. Ill-health is the state of pain or bodily malfunction induced by adverse physical circumstance.)

So, ill-health is a necessary but not sufficient condition of distributive injustice. Liberal concepts of distributive justice should say that it is not a necessary condition; they are wont to say that it is a sufficient condition. Libertarian conceptions should say that it is neither necessary not sufficient because in principle there is no such thing as distributive injustice.

In any event, the conservative view is that there is a duty from distributive injustice to render aid only if someone lacks in health. If someone lacks in health, then this fact by itself counts only as reason to take a look at his situation to see whether there is an injustice that we should rectify.

This view of the shape of distributive justices countenances great gaps in wealth. It surmises that a society is just, even if it has vast distances between the levels of wealth of the haves and the have-nots, as long as the have nots have their health. The reason is that distributive injustice generates a duty to render aid, but there cannot be a duty to render aid to someone who has, as the saying goes, "everything."