Social Justice is a concept that has fascinated philosophers ever since Plato in The Republic formalized the argument that an ideal state would rest on four virtues wisdom, courage, moderation, and justice.The addition of the word social is to clearly distinguish Social Justice from the concept of Justice as applied in thelaw- state-administered systems, which label behavior as unacceptable and enforce a formal mechanism of control, may produce results that do not match the philosophical definitions of social justice - and from more informal concepts of justice embedded in systems of public policy and morality and which differ from culture to culture and therefore lack universality.
(more content follows the advertisement below) A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Social justice is also used to refer to the overall fairness of a society in its divisions and distributions of rewards and burdens and, as such, the phrase has been adopted by political parties with a redistributive agenda. Social Justice derives its authority from the codes of morality prevailing in each culture.
By gathering together into bands and communities, humans seek to gain strength and to address their vulnerabilities which, in turn, creates the potential to develop into more complex and evolving civilisations. If simple survival is to be transformed into long-term security, something more than co-ordinating the contribution of everyone's skills will be required.
A social organisation will be needed to resolve disputes and offer physical security against attack. The achievement of community aims will depend upon the co-ordination of many functional specializations (such as farmers for food, soldiers for protection and rulers for resource management) and a willingness of community members to sacrifice some personal freedom for the greater good.So, would defining or administering justice become one of these specializations and, as such, be the exclusive responsibility of any one class of citizens? People will not accept the surrender of any of their freedoms unless they perceive real benefits flowing from their decisions.
The key factor is likely to be the emergence of a consensus that the society is working in a fair way, i.e., both that individuals are allowed as much freedom as possible given the role they have within the society and that the rewards compensate adequately for any loss of freedom. Hence, true social justice is attained only through the harmonious co-operative effort of the citizens who, in their own self-interest, accept the current norms of morality as the price of membership in the community.
The next major impetus for the development of the concept came from Christianity.Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) says, "Justice is a certain rectitude of mind whereby a man does what he ought to do in the circumstances confronting him."
As a theologian, Aquinas believed that justice is a form of natural duty owed by one person to another and not enforced by any human-made law. This reflects the Christian view that, before God, all people are equal and must treat each other with respect. Hence, the framework of the argument shifts to require obedience to natural principles of morality to satisfy a duty owed to God, and the outcome of social justice is driven by the tenets of morality embedded in the religion.