Professor Kok-Chor Tan: Injustice and Individual Responsibility

Anne Galbraith Boardroom, Durham Law School, 5pm, Wednesday, 4th May 2016

Professor Kok-Chor Tan: Injustice and Individual Responsibility

 

 

 

 

On the institutional approach to justice, individuals' duty of justice is primarily to support and comply with the rules of just institutions. Thus, under the ideal condition when there are just institutions, the institutional approach offers a clear and circumscribed scope for individual responsibility for justice. But what does the institutional approach say when existing institutions are unjust or not adequately just? How much guidance can the approach offer consistent with its special privileging of institutions? One proposal is that individuals have the primary responsibility to do their share to create just institutions. But does this mean that no matter what else an individual can do to bring about more good interpersonally, she must do her part to establish just arrangements? And does this mean that when a person is doing her part in this regard, she adequately discharges her responsibility of justice even when she is able to do more good interpersonally? Some will think that the claim that a person must do her share, as a matter of justice, to establish just institutions fetishizes institutions; and the claim that a person discharges her responsibility of justice when she is helping to create just institutions sells short the demands of justice. I will suggest that these claims are not as implausible as they might sound, but can in fact serve as reasonable guidelines for individual action when just institutions are lacking.

 

Photo credit: andybullock77 via Foter.com / CC BY



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