Giving Social Justice its Due: Restoring the Role of Virtue and the Common Good
Department of Economics Working Paper No. 1101
33 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2013
Date Written: December 22, 2012
We present the proper definition of social justice in light of classical philosophy and Scholastic theology, the traditional teaching of the Catholic Church. Social justice has as its direct object the common good, and social justice is the virtue by which man habitually fulfills his obligations for the common good. The concept of social justice is a diminishment of the Scholastic concept of legal justice, which encompasses the whole of virtue and which is synonymous with righteousness. The common good is the love that exists among the members of the community. The common good is brought about by the righteousness of its members, or, equivalently, the practice of the virtues, preeminently charity. The traditional meanings of these concepts are contrasted the concepts of social justice and the common good as they are understood in liberation theology, which are incompatible with the teaching of the Church.
Keywords: social justice, common good, Catholic social teaching, liberation theology
JEL Classification: B11, Z12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation