Sunday, January 09, 2011

"Responsibilty for Justice" by Iris Marion Young

Responsibility for Justice

by Iris Marion Young

(Oxford University Press, December 2010)

224 pages


When the noted political philosopher Iris Marion Young died in 2006, her death was mourned as the passing of "one of the most important political philosophers of the past quarter-century" (Cass Sunstein) and as an important and innovative thinker working at the conjunction of a number of important topics: global justice; democracy and difference; continental political theory; ethics and international affairs; and gender, race and public policy.

In her long-awaited "Responsibility for Justice", Young discusses our responsibilities to address "structural" injustices in which we among many are implicated (but for which we not to blame), often by virtue of participating in a market, such as buying goods produced in sweatshops, or participating in booming housing markets that leave many homeless. Young argues that addressing these structural injustices requires a new model of responsibility, which she calls the "social connection" model. She develops this idea by clarifying the nature of structural injustice; developing the notion of political responsibility for injustice and how it differs from older ideas of blame and guilt; and finally how we can then use this model to describe our responsibilities to others no matter who we are and where we live.


Foreword by Martha C. Nussbaum

1. From Personal to Political Responsibility
2. Structure as the Subject of Justice
3. Guilt versus Responsibility
4. A Social Connection Model [pdf]
5. Responsibility Across Borders
6. Avoiding Responsibility
7. Responsibility and Historic Injustice

Iris Marion Young (1949-2006) was Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago. She is the author of "Inclusion and Democracy"(Oxford University Press, 2000).

See the memorial website from Chicago Political Theory Graduate Student Caucus.

See Martha Nussbaum's personal remembraces of Iris Young.

See also my post on "Dancing with Iris: The Philosophy of Iris Marion Young" (Oxford University Press, 2009) edited by Ann Ferguson & Mechtild Nagel.

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