Defining Economic Justice and Social Justice

Published on Center for Economic and Social Justice CESJ, not dated.

2 excerpts: … Defining Economic Justice:

Economic justice, which touches the individual person as well as the social order, encompasses the moral principles which guide us in designing our economic institutions. These institutions determine how each person earns a living, enters into contracts, exchanges goods and services with others and otherwise produces an independent material foundation for his or her economic sustenance. The ultimate purpose of economic justice is to free each person to engage creatively in the unlimited work beyond economics, that of the mind and the spirit …

… The Principle of Harmony:

The principle of harmony encompasses the “feedback” or balancing principles required to detect distortions of either the input or output principles and to make whatever corrections are needed to restore a just and balanced economic order for all. This principle is violated by unjust barriers to participation, by monopolies or by some using their property to harm or exploit others. 

“Economic harmonies” is defined in The Oxford English Dictionary as “Laws of social adjustment under which the self-interest of one man or group of men, if given free play, will produce results offering the maximum advantage to other men and the community as a whole.” This principle offers guidelines for controlling monopolies, building checks-and-balances within social institutions, and re-synchronizing distribution (outtake) with participation (input). The first two principles of economic justice flow from the eternal human search for justice in general, which automatically requires a balance between input and outtake, i.e., “to each according to what he is due.” The principle of harmony, on the other hand, reflects the human quest for other absolute values, including Truth, Love and Beauty.

It should be noted that Kelso and Adler referred to the third principle as “the principle of limitation” as a restraint on human tendencies toward greed and monopoly that lead to exclusion and exploitation of others. Given the potential synergies inherent in economic justice in today’s high technology world, CESJ feels that the concept of “harmony” is more appropriate and more-encompassing than the term “limitation” in describing the third component of economic justice. Furthermore, “harmony” is more consistent with the truism that a society that seeks peace must first work for justice. (full text).

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