In the past few decades social changes have impacted how we understand justice, as societies become both more multicultural and more interconnected globally. Much philosophical thought, however, seems to proceed in isolation from these developments. While philosophers from Plato onwards have portrayed justice as an abstract, universal ideal, Miller argues that principles of justice are always rooted in particular social contexts, and connects these ideas to the changing conditions of human life. In this important contribution to political philosophy, it is argued that philosophers need to pay more attention to the way that people actually think about what's fair, and only defend principles that are feasible to apply in the real world. To understand equality of opportunity, for example, we must explore the cultural constraints that people face when presented with life choices. Justice for Earthlings also explains how national boundaries make justice at global level different from social justice.
David Miller is Professor of Political Theory and an Official Fellow at Nuffield College, University of Oxford. He is also a Fellow of the British Academy.
Introduction; 1. Political philosophy for Earthlings; 2. Two ways to think about justice; 3. Social justice in multicultural societies; 4. Liberalism, equal opportunities and cultural commitments; 5. Equality of opportunity and the family; 6. Justice and boundaries; 7. Social justice versus global justice?; 8. 'Are they my poor?': The problem of altruism in a world of strangers; 9. Taking up the slack? Responsibility and justice in situations of partial compliance; 10. A tale of two cities, or political philosophy as lamentation.