Is Social Justice Just?

Purchase the edited volume at Independent Institute.

“Anyone concerned with social justice will find this book makes him question his assumptions, rethink his premises, and think!”
Andrew P. Morriss, professor, Bush School of Government and Public Service, School of Law, Texas A&M University

What is social justice?

In these pages, twenty-one accomplished academics seek to do justice to “social justice.” Inequality exists and it obviously causes rifts in societies. But it’s not obvious how the government should address those rifts, or if it should address them at all. Have we forgotten the perhaps more efficient power of personal choice—and the corollary obligation: to serve our neighbors—to make our society more humane?

Beginning with the first political philosophers in ancient Athens, and continuing right through Marx into our post-modern era, men have wrestled with the question of justice; and the answers have been as earnest as they have been varied.

Today, our “expert” class also claim to have answers—updated answers, more “equitable” answers, more technological answers ... in short, answers that are simply better suited to our times.

But are those answers in any way correct? Do they work? Are they—just?

In these elegant, nuanced essays, the authors use the wisdom of ancient and modern philosophers to shed light on these important questions—and the answers are revealing.

Armed with ample evidence from real-world experiences, lessons from history, the wisdom of the classics, modern philosophers, and even the teachings of the world religions, the contributors of Is Social Justice Just? illuminate the central role of the individual in achieving justice in all its aspects.

Read Is Social Justice Just? and discover:

  • how to do social justice wrong with the poison of resentment, envy, and ignorance;
  • how to do social justice right with the insights of philosophers and theologians;
  • how to respect people’s rights and liberties without sacrificing true equality;
  • and how to reform flawed public policies that just make everything worse.

In a world of partisanship, hysteria, maliciousness, and good intentions attached to hellish outcomes, this landmark book enters the public discourse at a critical time.


Foreword: The Narcissists of Compassion
Jordan Peterson

Preface: Is Social Justice Just?
Nicholas Rescher

Introduction: New Thinking About Social Justice
Robert M. Whaples

Chapter 1: Social Justice versus Western Justice
Daniel Guerrière

Chapter 2: Social Justice, Economics, and the Implications of Nominalism
R. Scott Smith

Chapter 3: The Mantle of Justice
Adam G. Martin

Chapter 4: Social Injustice and Spontaneous Orders
Jacob T. Levy

Chapter 5: Hayekian Social Justice
Kevin D. Vallier

Chapter 6: Knowledge Problems from beind the Veil of Ignorance
Daniel J. D'Amico

Chapter 7: To Give Each Man His Due: The Folly of Dworkin's Jurisprudence of Social Justice
William J. Watkins Jr.

Chapter 8: An Exchange Theory of Social Justice: A "Gains from Trade under Uncertainty" Perspective
Anthony Gill

Chapter 9: Opting Out: A Defense of Social Justice
James R. Otteson

Chapter 10: Civil Society and Social Justice: A Prospectus
James R. Stoner Jr.

Chapter 11: Social Justice: Intersecting Catholicism, Citizenship, and Capitalism
John A. Moore

Chapter 12: Social Justice or Preferential Option for the Poor?
Martin Schlag

Chapter 13: Biblical Christianity and Social Justice
D. Eric Schansberg

Chapter 14: The Myth of Social Justice
Pascal Salin

Chapter 15: Bleeding Heart Libertarianism and the Social Justice or Injustice of Economic Inequality
Andrew Jason Cohen

Chapter 16: Classical Liberalism as the Fulfillment of the Egalitarian Ideal
Axel Kaiser

Chapter 17: Social Justice, Public Goods, and Rent Seeking in Narratives
Vincent J. Geloso and Phillip W. Magness

Chapter 18: Is Social Justice a Mirage?
Stefanie Haeffele and Virgil Henry Storr

Chapter 19: Social Justice, Antiracism, and Public Policy
Robert M. Whaples