The Concept of Injustice

21 Pages Posted: 14 Apr 2012

See all articles by Eric Heinze

Eric Heinze

Queen Mary University of London, School of Law

Date Written: April 13, 2012


This book presents a challenge to traditional Western justice theory. Thinkers from Plato and Aristotle through to Kant, Hegel, Marx and Rawls have subordinated the idea of injustice to the idea of justice. Misled by the word’s etymology, political theorists have assumed injustice to be the sheer, logical opposite of justice. Heinze summons ancient and early modern texts, philosophical and literary, to argue that injustice is not primarily the negation, failure or absence of justice. It is the constant product of regimes and norms of justice. Justice is not always the cure for injustice, and is often its cause. The core elements of traditional justice theories are unity and measurement. No justice theory is conceivable without one or both of them. Measurement, in particular, has dominated Western modernity. However, it is those two elements which constantly produce injustice — not as the opposite of justice, but as its necessary result. The relationship between injustice and injustice is more complex than one of mutual exclusion. In this book, literary classics offer evidence of that complex relationship, from Sophocles to Milton, including discussions of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice and Timon of Athens, and Corneille’s Le Cid.

Keywords: Ethical Philosophy, Jurisprudence, Justice Theory, Law & Humanities, Law & Literature, Law & Shakespeare, Legal Theory, Legal Philosophy, Political Philosophy

Suggested Citation

Heinze, Eric, The Concept of Injustice (April 13, 2012). Queen Mary School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 114/2012, Available at SSRN:

Eric Heinze (Contact Author)

Queen Mary University of London, School of Law ( email )

67-69 Lincoln’s Inn Fields
London, WC2A 3JB
United Kingdom

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