Monday, February 11, 2013

Social Justice quote for the day-by Thomas Sowell


Thomas Sowell makes the distinction between what he says is the traditional conception of justice and social justice.See here for the essay from which the following quote was taken.

   " Traditional concepts of justice or fairness, at least within the American tradition, boil down to applying the same rules and standards to everyone.  This is what is meant by a "level playing field"-- at least within that tradition, though the very same words mean something radically different within a framework that calls itself "social justice."  Words like "fairness," "advantage" and "disadvantage" likewise have radically different meanings within the very different frameworks of traditional justice and "social justice."
    John Rawls perhaps best summarized the differences when he distinguished "fair" equality of opportunity from merely "formal" equality of opportunity. Traditional justice, fairness, or equality of opportunity are merely formal in Professor Rawls' view and in the view of his many followers and comrades.  For those with this view, "genuine equality of opportunity" cannot be achieved by the application of the same rules and standards to all, but requires specific interventions to equalize either prospects or results.  As Rawls puts it, "undeserved inequalities call for redress." "

Libertarians and conservatives on one hand and egalitarians on the other all claim to be supporters of equal opportunity but they mean different things by the same words.The first group is talking about what Rawls calls formal opportunity and the second what he calls genuine opportunity.Egalitarians urge  corrective actions to transform a situation which has what  they consider ethically inadequate formal opportunity to their real deal of genuine opportunity.Libertarians not conversant with the egalitarian nomenclature consider the egalitarian's support of corrective actions to be a concern for and emphasis on outcomes while the egalitarians think of the outcome as an improved and the appropriate opportunity.Debates in which the two parties have different meanings for the same words usually do not get resolved.

The Charter (The Physician's Charter)( see here for article ) authored by a surprisingly small group (but apparently well funded, see here) internists in 2002 claims that to be  properly professional in the new millennium a physician must strive for social justice raising that goal to the same level as the  key traditional medical ethical precepts of patient autonomy and beneficence for the patient . This notion of justice is not the traditional concept of justice to which many in this country,including no doubt many physicians accept. Audacity is too weak a word to describe their assertions. Unbelievable is too weak a word to describe the apparent success their effort has had as least as judged by the nominal acceptance of that view by a large number of American medical professional organizations.

Who were the physicians  who lead the social justice movement in the medical profession? This is a topic for a later commentary.

No comments: