Justice in An Unjust World: Foundations for a Christian Approach to Justice

By Karen Lebacqz | Go to book overview

Three
Ruminations:
On Ethical Method in
an Unjust World

By now some readers may be angry. Although the stories of injustice and the history of rue have a certain compelling force, they leave unanswered some important questions. I have declared injustice to characterize our world. I have called women's role “rape,” poverty “robbery,” and description “rhetoric.”

But surely it is precisely the purpose of a theory of justice to tell us whether in fact poverty is “unfair” or whether it is simply “unfortunate.” It is the role of theory to tell us when women's role is reasonable and when it is “rape.”1 It is the role of theory to distinguish between description that is valid and description that is “rhetoric.” Have I presumed the very thing I should be setting out to demonstrate? How do I know that the things I have called rape, racism, robbery, repression, removal, rhetoric, and ruination constitute injustices? Assertion is no substitute for argument.

And so we come to some difficult questions regarding method in ethics. If my own stance as both oppressed and oppressor presents the first jeopardy for the task ahead, here we encounter the second form of jeopardy: theory itself is developed by oppressors and therefore tends to exhibit an oppressor mentality.


Reason and Revelation: A Hermeneutic of Suspicion

The White Rabbit put on his spectacles. “Where shall I begin, please
your Majesty?” he asked. “Begin at the beginning,” the King said very
gravely, “and go on until you come to the end: then stop.”2

-51-

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