Applicative Justice: A Pragmatic Empirical Approach to Racial Injustice (Hardback)
  • Applicative Justice: A Pragmatic Empirical Approach to Racial Injustice (Hardback)
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Applicative Justice: A Pragmatic Empirical Approach to Racial Injustice (Hardback)

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Hardback 250 Pages / Published: 02/03/2016
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Naomi Zack pioneers a new theory of justice starting from a correction of current injustices. While the present justice paradigm in political philosophy and related fields begins from John Rawls's 1970 Theory of Justice, Zack insists that what people in reality care about is not justice as an ideal, but injustice as a correctable ill. For a way to describe real injustice and the society in which it occurs, Zack resurrect Arthur Bentley's key insight that government and law (or political life) is a constant process of contending interest groups throughout society. Bentley's main idea allows for a resolution of the contradiction between formal legal equality for U.S. minorities and post-civil rights practical inequality. Just law and unjust practice co-exist as a fact of political life. The correction of injustice in reality requires applicative justice, in a comparison between those who are treated unjustly with those who are treated justly, and the design of effective measures to equalize such treatment. Zack's theory of applicative justice offers a revolutionary reorientation of society's pursuit of justice, seeking to undo injustice in a practical and fully achievable way.

Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
ISBN: 9781442260009
Number of pages: 250
Weight: 553 g
Dimensions: 239 x 158 x 24 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
Zack draws on empirical pragmatism to define applicative justice, because `Rawlsian ideal theorizing has nothing to offer for correcting real life injustice.' The approach is based on Arthur Bentley's claims in The Process of Government (1908) that just law can coexist with unjust practices, and that institutions and rules are nothing more than the actual realizations associated with them. A central example is the United Nations' Declaration of Human Rights promotion of a `general equality principle,' which has not been a serious interest to world leaders. Applicative justice is the `extension of received functions of ordinary justice under ordinary law, to those who have been denied them in modern democratic societies.' A barrier to achieving this is facing the delusion of the power of academic speech to change reality, and that social construction of race `may require the kind of faith found in activists within the black prophetic tradition.'. . .An excellent supplemental text for any course on justice. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty. * CHOICE *
I found Applicative Justice to be a thought-provoking, engaging work that provokes the reader not only to rethink past approaches to mitigating injustice, but also one that challenges the reader to see the gaps in how we frame our understanding of racial injustice. Zack is always a clear, crisp writer. Her work is replete with examples that make her arguments more persuasive and illuminating. But what really hit me about her book was the utter applicability of applicative justice.... Thank you to Zack for providing the language that so keenly homes in on this and other racial injustices. * Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy *
Applicative Justice shows how philosophical theories of ideal justice are unable to imagine or perceive the background conditions and mechanisms by which actual cases of injustice emerge. With a focus on racial injustice, Zack explores the works of both neglected and celebrated political theorists in order to locate better tools for normative investigations of injustice. Using these tools to understand the racial injustices we see today, as well as discourses about them, Zack guides us toward more adequate responses to them. -- Laurie Shrage, Florida International University
Injustice impacting African Americans and the poor exemplify the demand for a pragmatic approach to what it means to think about justice in the here and now. This highly important book probes cases of injustice to propose what Naomi Zack conceives of as an "applicative theory of justice." Her original and provocative argument lays out the grounds for correcting injustice as it is experienced from the perspective of the vulnerable and oppressed. Developing further Amartya Sen's post-Rawlsian insights she emphasizes ideals of justice that are thoroughly empirical and realizable. At last, justice theory is deeply relevant for addressing the urgencies of political life. -- Cynthia Willett, Author of Maternal Ethics and Other Slave Moralities
Naomi Zack's newest book is a real tour de force. It does to ideal notions of distributive justice what Charles Mills's The Racial Contract did to ideal notions of the social contract. How does one fight for justice when the philosophical theories of justice are themselves unjust to Black people and people of color in general? Zack's notion of applicative justice, as well as her bold invitation to the reader to not just THINK about justice but DO justice, offers us an enlightened way to directly deal with the (white) elephant in the room that goes unnoticed due to an alleged (white) veil of ignorance. -- Brad Elliott Stone, Professor of Philosophy and Chair of African American Studies, Loyola Marymount University
Many theorists of justice describe an ideal and bracket the challenge of realizing it; others worry about how best to achieve improvements in our nonideal circumstances. Zack explores whether appeals to ideals are necessary for framing social and political improvements in the context of widespread and persistent injustice. She stresses that we must start with where we are now. She astutely points to tensions in descriptive and explanatory frameworks but argues that concrete improvements are possible without appealing to ideals that offer reasons only for imagined persons in ahistoric fantasylands. Her theory of applicative justice is firmly grounded in history, attentive to political and economic realities, and informed by critical reflections on common narratives in the law, culture, and media. Zack concludes on an uplifting hopeful note by observing signs of a path forward. She consistently challenges the reader to reconsider dominant methodologies for social and political theorizing. -- Andrew I. Cohen, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Jean Beer Blumenfeld Center for Ethics, Georgia State University

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