Why Charity is Not An Obligation of Justice

Day 4
Session 9
10:20 AM

Justice requires redistribution to help people live flourishing lives. That is a central premise of much political rhetoric and many government programs today. The premise contains an important kernel of truth, insofar as the law has always contained a right to preserve one's life. But it claims too much. For one thing, if giving is a duty of justice then charity is not possible, for charitable acts involve giving what one does *not* have an obligaton to give. And charity exists. Furthermore, charity is not the same as justice. It is better than natural justice, and preferable to legal justice. We should allow and incentivize actions that build moral connections between people, such as charity and benevolence, rather than actions that increase impersonal entitlements and eliminate our personal responsibility for the least well off.

Recommended Reading

Jordan J. Ballor, Makers of Modern Christian Social Thought (2016)

Adam J. MacLeod, Property and Practical Reason (2015)

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