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Russian Academy of Sciences




  Andrey V. Prokofiev. Social Justice: Normative Content and Historical Development of the Concept
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Andrey V. Prokofiev. Social Justice: Normative Content and Historical Development of the Concept

Andrey V. Prokofiev

Social Justice: Normative Content and Historical Development of the Concept
Research project, Russian Foundation for Humanities, 2001–2003.

 

 

The project's main goal is the analysis of normative content and historical development of the idea of social justice. At the first stage of the research the author tries to determine substantial elements of this concept and its relations with the principle of fundamental equality between all individuals. He suggests that various conceptions of social justice emerge as results of application of the so called "presumption of equality" (I. Berlin) and all morally relevant factors of differentiation between members of some society. The next stage of the inquiry deals with a problem of the scope of justice. The author undertakes an effort to reflect critically upon famous "circumstances of justice" which were elaborated by D. Hume and caught up by J. Rawls. From his point of view these circumstances have to be corrected and reformulated. He proposes universal constants of human nature as a main limit of all claims in the name of social justice. Marxist and feminist traditions of political philosophy turn into the most vivid examples of the concealed illegitimate substitution of considerations of social justice for considerations of transcending humanity.
The historical part of the inquiry is devoted to the problem of comparing modern theories of social justice with their predecessors (ancient and medieval ideas of it). Classical modes of understanding differ by their naturalistic and perfectionist character. They deny notorious Rawlsian thought that the right is inevitably prior to the good. And there is a powerful trend in the modern ethics to return to classical discourses. In this inquiry the trend is analysed by the example of contemporary aristotelianism in theory of justice (A. MacIntyre, M. Nussbaum etc.) Finally the author reconstructs a harsh confrontation of basic distributive paradigms and conceptions of their justification in the English-speaking philosophical world. His own position presupposes that this potentially endless confrontation can be avoided only by means of the new methodology, i.e. the methodology of value pluralism.