Abstract

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Distributive Justice Before the Eighteenth Century: The Right of Necessity


Siegfried Van Duffel


National University of Singapore (NUS)

Dennis Yap


Princeton University - Department of Politics

October 8, 2009


Abstract:     
Until recently, few people would have doubted that the idea of distributive justice is old, indeed ancient. Several authors have now challenged this assumption. Most prominently, Samuel Fleischacker argued that distributive justice originates in the eighteenth century. If accurate, this would upset much of what we have taken for granted about an important part of the history of Western political thought. However, the thesis is manifestly flawed. And since that it has already proven influential, it is important to set the record straight. We will focus on the principle of extreme necessity, developed in twelfth and thirteenth century canon law, and subsequently adopted in civil law. Despite its immense importance for the history of political thought, the principle is barely know, and much less discussed. We briefly characterize the main tenets of the principle and show that it meets all the criteria to count as a principle of distributive justice.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 18

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Date posted: October 12, 2009  

Suggested Citation

Van Duffel, Siegfried and Yap, Dennis, Distributive Justice Before the Eighteenth Century: The Right of Necessity (October 8, 2009). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1485420 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1485420

Contact Information

Siegfried Van Duffel (Contact Author)
National University of Singapore (NUS) ( email )
Bukit Timah Road 469 G
Singapore, 117591
Singapore
Dennis Yap
Princeton University - Department of Politics ( email )
Corwin Hall
Princeton, NJ 08544-1012
United States
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