Basics of Social Justice

When social justice is improperly defined, the expansion of the term justice to social justice becomes fallacious and leads to all sorts of anti-liberty consequences. The foes of liberty therefore routinely expand the sound idea of justice into unsound ideas of social justice.

Justice occurs when an innocent person remains free, where being free means free from being the object of the initiation of force. Violence against an innocent person emanates from other people acting privately who commit crimes and/or torts against such innocents; or from a government, which acts in a public capacity to initiate violence against innocents.

Might does not make right. Laws made by governments do not define justice. If they did, tyrants and tyrannical governments could declare all their crimes as both legal and just. A free people has other independent standards of justice. A free people holds government to account according to these standards.

The term social justice is correctly defined as justice in the public realm, that is, freedom from violence initiated by a government against innocent persons. Violence initiated in the private realm by persons privately are correctly termed crimes and torts. Such private violence is not social injustice. The reason for this definition’s distinction is that social refers to society, and society as a whole has government; whereas transactions between individuals in the private realm do not involve society as a whole. Society at a minimum refers to a complex organization of individuals and groups far and wide.

An example of a social injustice is a government law that says all women weighing under 100 pounds will be fined $50 a week until such time as they weigh at least 125 pounds. The government initiates actual violence via the fine, which if not paid, results in further penalties. On the other hand, if McDonald’s says that it will only serve females who weigh at least 125 pounds, this is not a crime, not a tort, not an injustice and not a social injustice. Granted, it breaks some current government law, but such law doesn’t define what justice is or is not. Since McDonald’s is initiating no violence against women who weigh less than 125 pounds, those light women remain free and there is no injustice. The non-existence of McDonald’s before it began was not violence against anyone. The fact that it served only hamburgers at first was not violence against chicken-eaters. If it served only people over 16 years of age, that was its right. If it refused to serve people not wearing foot coverings, that too was its right. Similarly, refusing to serve women below a certain weight does not initiate violence. You do not initiate violence by offering a limited peaceful service where none existed before.

If this action by McDonald’s is a social injustice, then so is your refusal to open your home to whoever knocks on the door. Freedom of association is impaired if one cannot refuse interactions with others on a selective basis, and/or if one is forced to interact with others on a non-selective basis..

When to government people assign the role of upholding justice, or defending against wrongs and violence initiated by some persons in their private capacities, that is, when government is allowed to combat crime and torts, the danger arises that people will amplify the alleged injustices that government is allowed to combat. They will make claims of social injustice where none is occurring.

In step one, they will allege some harm, hurt, crime or tort. For example, workers are not being paid enough. In step two, they will label this as a social injustice.

Government has the unique power to administer violence, but only properly to counter private initiation of violence. Those who rally government to remedy their wrongful claims of being victimized by others in private society cause inflation in government-initiated and administered violence for improper purposes. The result is a rise in social injustice. Ironically, improper claims of private social injustice cause greater social injustice when government wrongly heeds these claims and acts upon them.


3:50 pm on August 1, 2019