Imperfection and Impartiality: A Liberal Theory of Social Justice

By Marcel Wissenburg | Go to book overview
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Long ago, this book began life as a PhD thesis. It was then called Justice from a distance (Wissenburg 1994). Over the years, both contents and title changed repeatedly, in the last two years of its recomposition (1996-8) mostly in reaction to another book I was writing at the time, Green liberalism (Wissenburg 1998). Particularly in Chapters 7 and 8, I discuss themes that I have also discussed in the latter book; despite minor differences in the wording, the substance of both chapters is, I believe, now consistent with the ideas expressed in Green liberalism.

Everyone who was involved in the making of Green liberalism was also indirectly involved in the creation of Imperfection and impartiality-in particular my sponsor for the last three and a half years, the Foundation for Law and Government (REOB), which is part of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), and the members of the Department of Political Science, now part of the School of Public Affairs, at the University of Nijmegen. In addition, I owe thanks for their ideas, guidance, help, suggestions, advice, support or absence of obstruction to a few dozen people who read parts of this manuscript itself. I hope I have not forgotten anyone if I mention Mark Bovens, Ad van Deemen, Andrew Dobson, Rob Gilsing, Bob Goodin, Steven Hartkamp, Bob Lieshout, Grahame Lock, Cor van Montfort, Paul Nieuwenburg, Ewout Ossewold, Carmelita Parisius, Larry Temkin, Marin Terpstra, Albert Weale and countless participants in numerous conferences and workshops. One conference in particular has exerted a lasting influence on this book: the one on Human Rights fifty years after the creation of the United Nations in Sintra, Portugal, funded by the Friedrich Naumann Stiftung of the German Freie Demokratische Partei in 1994. Although they may not have realized it, João Bettencourt da Câmara, Luis Bustamente, Raul Campusano, Goh Cheng Teik, Ehud Ben Ezer, Sabira Faquirá, Elsa Kelly, Ewa Matuszewska, Mahmut Ongoren, Kunga Tsering, Juan Urioste and others there completely restored my faith in the human capacity for impartiality. I am especially indebted to Brian Barry for his very careful and friendly comments on the one-but-final version of this book, and to Caroline Wintersgill and


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