The Idea of Social Justice: A Study of Legislation and Administration and the Labour Movement in England and France between 1900 and 1926

The Idea of Social Justice: A Study of Legislation and Administration and the Labour Movement in England and France between 1900 and 1926

The Idea of Social Justice: A Study of Legislation and Administration and the Labour Movement in England and France between 1900 and 1926

The Idea of Social Justice: A Study of Legislation and Administration and the Labour Movement in England and France between 1900 and 1926

Excerpt

What is Social Justice? The question is as old as history and generations to come will repeat the question. Justice is in its nature social, for it consists in the right relation of individuals one to another. But when we speak of Social Justice we are thinking of the collective expression given to the idea of justice through the laws and customs, the orders and the social provisions which express the will of the community. To find the answer to what is Social Justice, we must try to form a complete idea of the community, seeing the manifold relations within it, each of which contributes to the sum of Social Justice. The Republic of Plato has given the world for all time a wonderful picture of the State as expressing the idea of justice. Others have from time to time presented in their pictures of Utopia the semblance of an answer to the question of what is Social Justice. There is value in these efforts to present the ideal. Their concrete forms challenge the question how far they express what is necessary to the progress of human society. But they are only a first step in the search for Social Justice. Mankind goes on striving to enrich and enlarge the answer and to bring into the picture of organised society the manifold elements in the developed form of Social Justice.

Now it is by the patient analysis of the experience of society in its various types and by critical reflection on the evidence before us that we can make more complete the picture of the Community as the expression of Social Justice. In doing so, the question has to be repeated constantly, 'Does this or that measure contribute something which is necessary to a just order of society? We have come to a stage in history when the materials of social evidence are accumulating so rapidly that a large number of workers is needed to sift out, classify and compare the data for the guidance of public policy. In particular, we must examine what is taking place in the most highly developed states of the . . .

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