Social Economics: Premises, Findings and Policies

By Edward J.O'Boyle | Go to book overview

PART III

On justice, solidarity, and community

Cooperation or solidarity is the hallmark of traditional solidarism. The eminent European social ethicist Johannes Messner said in an article on Pesch that the fundamental law of both the social order and the economic order is the principle of solidarity.

(William R. Waters (1990) "Evolution of Social Economics in America," in Mark A. Lutz (ed.) Social Economics: Retrospect and Prospect, Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers: 109)

Social justice is a very helpful but ambiguous term. It is used in both broad and narrow senses. In the broad sense that the institutions of society and their operations must be just, it is synonymous with what Aristotle called legal justice and medievalists called general justice. It is more useful in the narrow sense of an obligation to contribute to society to make it just-to reconstruct it…. Social justice focuses on obligations and opportunities for production for the common good and visualizes an environment for individuals to begin contact with the social economic (vocational) groups…. Sometimes social justice is confused with other narrow forms of justice: namely, commutative and distributive. Often it is used with no precise meaning at all.

(William R. Waters, ibid.: 113; emphasis in the original)

The key to an effective American foreign economic policy is carefully selected investment projects on the frontier of development to which we shall direct our scarce resources after cooperative decision making in small ad hoc, broadly representative, planning committees. Such a strategy involves team work by all important sectors: large firms, organized labor, the community, bankers and government. We should not expect the market to do what people, by way of their politicaleconomic, democratic system, will not permit it to do. It probably is not capable of doing it anyhow.

(William R. Waters (1990) "The Structure of American Economic Policy: An Exploration," Forum for Social Economics, Fall: 129)

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