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Social Justice and Liberation

13 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2006  

Robert E. Rodes Jr.

Notre Dame Law School


Justice is the virtue we practice by giving people what is due them. Therefore, there is a problem of assignability when we consider an unjust social order: What is due from an individual beneficiary of that order to an individual victim? That question is answered by the concept of social justice: What all of us individually owe to each individual victim of the institutions now in place is our best efforts to reform those institutions. The first half of this paper analyzes the traditional arguments for and the conservative arguments against social justice as the answer to this problem of assignability. Within that framework, it highlights the need for combating and remedying injustices in society even though different, unknown, or more difficult problems may arise from doing so. The second half of the paper enters into an eschatological reflection on the principles of social justice from a Christian liberation theology perspective. It concludes that the demands of social justice from this Christian perspective are two-fold. First, that the members of every class have enough resources and enough power to live as befits human beings, and, second, that the privileged class be accountable to the wider society for the way they use their advantages.

Suggested Citation

Rodes, Robert mname, Social Justice and Liberation. Notre Dame Law Review, Vol. 71, No. 4, 1996; Notre Dame Legal Studies Paper No. 06-24. Available at SSRN:

Robert Rodes (Contact Author)

Notre Dame Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 780
Notre Dame, IN 46556-0780
United States

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