Getting Social Justice Right

Some people think social justice is a 20th-century invention of left-leaning thinkers, but this starts the history of social justice midstream. To understand the true meaning of social justice, we must look further back to its real historical origins. The first known use of the phrase “social justice” was by a Jesuit Thomist, Luigi Taparelli, in his multivolume work published between 1840 and 1843 titled Saggio teoretico di dritto naturale appoggiato sul fatto (A Theoretical Treatise on Natural Law Resting on Fact). This lecture emphasizes two arguments that Taparelli highlighted by coining the new phrase “social justice”: first, that man is social by nature and belongs to many societies, and second, that man has natural duties to others in justice.

Recommended Readings: Contained in handout below

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