The Two Faces of Justice (Hardback)
  • The Two Faces of Justice (Hardback)
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The Two Faces of Justice (Hardback)

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£54.95
Hardback 264 Pages
Published: 15/05/2006
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Justice is a human virtue that is at once unconditional and conditional. Under favorable circumstances, we can be motivated to act justly by the belief that we must live up to what justice requires, irrespective of whether we benefit from doing so. But our will to act justly is subject to conditions. We find it difficult to exercise the virtue of justice when others regularly fail to. Even if we appear to have overcome the difficulty, our reluctance often betrays itself in certain moral emotions.

In this book, Jiwei Ci explores the dual nature of justice, in an attempt to make unitary sense of key features of justice reflected in its close relation to resentment, punishment, and forgiveness. Rather than pursue a search for normative principles, he probes the human psychology of justice to understand what motivates moral agents who seek to behave justly, and why their desire to be just is as precarious as it is uplifting.

A wide-ranging treatment of enduring questions, The Two Faces of Justice can also be read as a remarkably discerning contribution to the Western discourse on justice relaunched in our time by John Rawls.

Publisher: Harvard University Press
ISBN: 9780674021600
Number of pages: 264
Dimensions: 235 x 156 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

Ci’s account of justice is perhaps one of the most in-depth discussions on the subject published in recent years. Showing an impressive understanding of the works of the major philosophers that have helped to shape western philosophy, Ci’s work is an attempt to address some of the frequently debated philosophical questions about the nature of social and personal justice, reciprocity, altruism, egoism, forgiveness, resentment, and virtue. The author’s approach is refreshing though demanding in terms of the philosophical literacy it expects from its reader. Ci attempts to bring together the objective and the subjective aspects of justice to show how justice is both an institution of society, while the law must seek to protect in order to ensure reciprocity between its members, as well as a personal disposition and human desire. The main argument of the book, therefore, as its title suggests, is that justice has two faces: one conditional, the other unconditional… Ci’s ability to account for the two faces of justice is what makes his book so provocative and original. It prompts the reader to reconsider his/her philosophical stance vis-à-vis justice and to align it more closely to what we know about the psychological and moral make-up of human beings… It is clear that Ci’s book will provoke much discussion in a plethora of contexts. - Ann Marie Mealey, Ethical Perspectives

By clarifying the social conditions under which people are willing to behave justly—the state-mediated, psychological mechanisms through which justice is ‘socialized’—the book touches on many of the core concerns of [Ci’s] China trilogy, including the human need for a sense of agency and autonomy, the state’s role in enforcing conformity and maintaining social stability, and the circumstances under which these break down. - Johannes Hoerning, New Left Review

One of the best things about the book is the way in which it juxtaposes close, plausible, and revealing readings of discussions of moral psychology by a very wide range of authors who are not ordinarily brought into contact. Rawls, Strawson, Barry, Scanlon, Williams, Gibbard, Gauthier, and Hampshire rub shoulders not only with Hume, Kant, and Habermas, but also with Schopenhauer, Arendt, Scheler, Tillich, Niebuhr, Kierkegaard, and, above all, the early Nietzsche. I found these juxtapositions often as revealing as they are unexpected… Ci’s story has a rich specificity… I found many of the details both provocative and plausible. His exploration of the reciprocity which many recent writers have placed in the very center of our moral motivations seemed to me to uncover many plausible connections and aspects which are sometimes overlooked in standard discussions. And moral and social philosophers would benefit from exposure to the wider than normal range of classical accounts which Ci explores. - Joseph Mendola, Mind

This is a superb philosophical essay. It is elegantly written, imaginative, surprising in ways both large and small, carefully thought through, and embedded in generous readings of other work on justice. It is also deep in many respects—deep in the sense that it regularly uncovers unfamiliar connections between familiar ideas, and brings those connections into focus as central features of the theory and practice of justice… The book is not intended to be a novel theory of justice, or a comprehensive treatise on the subject. It is rather a carefully structured and persistently pursued meditation on the connection between justice and reciprocity, as well as on the moral psychology that defines both a central problem for a theory of justice, and the all-too-human limits of the problem’s resolution. - Lawrence Becker, Social Theory and Practice

This is an exceptionally interesting work which presents a highly novel and remarkably wide-ranging discussion of justice as a virtue of individual human beings and as a property of social institutions. Although this is in the first instance a philosophical treatment, it very deftly integrates perceptive psychological observations and some social theory into an argumentative structure that has a wider scope and greater plausibility than much of the straightforwardly analytical discussion in the existing literature about justice. Ci brings a combination of freshness, penetration, and complete lack of parochialism in the treatment of the basic topic. The breadth of Ci’s vision of the field gives the text a marvelous richness. This book is a model of the kind of positive cosmopolitanism one can hope will be the future of philosophy. - Raymond Geuss, Reader in Philosophy, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Cambridge

A stunningly original and interesting book. Both in its main line of argument as well as in its critical readings of other authors, this book is a quite unique product that raises very interesting questions both about how societies function and about our own moral vocabulary. Ci is thinking from outside the box of ordinary moral philosophy about its historical emergence and its connections to the moral psychology of citizens in modern societies. - Thomas Pogge, Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University

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