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|Title: ||Just suffering: a theoretical engagement with the demands of justice|
|Authors: ||Schnuer, Gregor|
|Supervisor(s): ||Raffel, Stanley|
|Issue Date: ||2010|
|Publisher: ||The University of Edinburgh|
|Abstract: ||This thesis will engage with the relationship between justice and suffering in
order to more clearly understand what being just entails and how we can theorise justice
as demanding in a desirable way. Theorising this relationship will focus on the role of
various conceptions of self and community to show how justice, as contextual and
communal, can be demanding in a way that does not drive the self that suffers apart
from those that benefit from justice.
Methodologically the thesis will follow in the tradition of self-reflection in the
way it was described by Alan Blum and Peter McHugh. This means that the thesis will
try to understand justice and suffering by looking at the foundations of justice, or, put
differently, by trying to theorise what it is that makes some instances of suffering just.
To this end the argument will begin by outlining a concept of community and of justice
to then begin looking at various arguments that relate justice with suffering, either
explicitly or implicitly and describe this relationship as desirable.
Understanding community in a way that is based on Jean-Luc Nancy’s idea of
being-with-others the thesis already sets out a way of conceptualising a social actor that
is essentially related to other actors. This is then used as the foundation of a community
in what will be called a place. This placing of the social self will also be used to place
justice and move away from justice as relying on universal principles.
The thesis challenges three main arguments: a) René Girard’s justification of
excessive spectacular violence against a scapegoat as a means of controlling the violent
desires of a community by performing sacred and public acts of violence; b) universal
principles using individualist theories of justice by John Rawls and Immanuel Kant; c)
benevolence as an alternative to justice as presented by virtue ethicists and also
communitarians (specifically Michael Sandel). These three theories are shown not to
appreciate various aspects of justice as fairness and a community (in Nancy’s sense); particularly the silencing of difference in Girard’s false utilitarianism, the ignorance of
existing injustice and suffering in Rawls’ universalism and the antagonism between the
self and the universal interest in virtue ethic’s benevolence (Christine Swanton and
Aristotle in particular).
The thesis concludes that, in order for justice to be demanding in a way that does
not disrupt a community, and in order for members of the community to suffer as part
of the demands of justice, the community needs to be able to engage with itself
theoretically, allowing it to commit itself to achieving justice. In this process of
recognizing injustice and then pursuing fairness, a community has to be able to bind
itself to its commitment in such a way that it can affirm itself as a community that is
committed to justice, even if this commitment will cause some members of that
community to suffer.|
|Appears in Collections:||Sociology thesis and dissertation collection|
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