LAW214-LAWS805_TBa_45-86.pdf

Concept of justice for their community so that

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concept of Justice for their community, so that arguments over Justice can be under - stood as arguments about the best conception of that con - cept. Our own philosophers of Justice rarely attempt this, for it is difficult to find a statement of the concept at once suffi - ciently abstract to be uncontroversial among us and suffi - ciently concrete to be useful. Our controversies about Justice are too rich, and too many different kinds of theories are now in the field. Suppose a philosopher proposes, for example, this statement of the concept: Justice is different from other political and moral virtues because it is a matter of entitle - ment, a matter of what those who will be affected by the acts of individuals or institutions have a right to expect at their hands. This seems unhelpful, because the concept of entitle - ment is itself too close to Justice to be illuminating, and somewhat too controversial to count as conceptual in the present sense, because some prominent theories of Justice— the Marxist theory, if there is one,^' and even utilitari - anism ^would nevertheless reject it. Perhaps no useful state - ment of the concept of Justice is available. If so, this casts no
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INTERPRETIVE CONCEPTS 75 doubt on the sense of disputes about justice, but testifies only to the imagination of people trying to be just. In any case, we have something that is more important than a useful statement of the concept. We share a preinter - pretive sense of the rough boundaries of the practice on which our imagination must be trained. We use this to dis- tinguish conceptions of justice we reject, even depj^^e, from positions we would not count as conceptions of justice at all even if they were presented under that title. The libertarian \ ethic is, for many of us, an unattractive theory of justice. But the thesis that abstract art is unjust is not even unattractive; it is incomprehensible as a theory about justice because no competent preinterpretive account of the practice of justice embraces the criticism and evaluation of art.^^ Philosophers, or perhaps sociologists, of justice o^n also do useful work in identifying the paradigms that play the role in arguments about justice that I said paradigms would play in arguments about courtesy. It is paradigmatic for us now that punishing innocent people is unjust, that slavery is un - just, that stealing from the poor for the rich is unjust. Most of us would reject out of hand any conception that seemed to require or permit punishing the innocent. It is a standing ar - gument against utilitarianism, therefore, that it cannot provide a good account or justification of these central paradigms; utilitarians do not ignore that charge as irrele- vant, but on the contrary use heroic ingenuity to try to refute N it. Some theories of justice do contest much of what their contemporaries take as paradigmatic, however, and this ex - plains not only why these theories —Nietzsche s, for example, or Marx s apparently contradictory thoughts about jus - tice ^have seemed not only radical but perhaps not really
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