I blog about environmental and social justice issues because I am very concerned about the health of the interdependent web of life of which we are a part.

Melting Arctic ice.......beautiful and frightening!

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Idea of Justice

I finished reading The Idea of Justice, by Amartya Sen,  last weekend.  He is not focussed on ideal  and unrealizable theories of perfect  justice, but instead, on how we can reduce injustice in the world we live in.

In Chapter 6, he dissects global justice. 
There is clearly an important issue in the neglect of the interests and perspectives of those who are not parties to the social contract or polity but who bear some of the consequences of decisions taken in that particular polity.....
(That certainly describes the citizens of the developing world who will, according to the World Bank, suffer most of the consequences of climate change while causing very little of it to date.) In Chapter 16, he links democracy, justice, and  public discussion and reasoning.  He states that
It is hard to escape the general conclusion that economic performance, social opportunity, political voice and public reasoning are all deeply inter related.  ....Democratic feedom can certainly be used to enhance social justice and a better and fairer politics.  The process, however, is not automatic amd requires activism on the part of politically engaged citizens.
In Chapter 18, he makes the point that, although a global state and democracy are  impossible to achieve, activists who agitate for better global conditions do
ask very relevant questions and thus contribute constructively to public reasoning.....Active public agitation, new commentary and open discussion are among the ways in which global democracy can be pursued.
I conclude that environmental activists and agitators are not only saving the environment but creating a more inclusive democracy through questioning the status quo - or greenhouse gas emissions as usual.  Climate change activists press us to think about the future.  The subtext to their message  is that we, the ciitzens,  must become more engaged in politics  and more willing to question and constrain elites. 

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