Speaking on the occasion of the creation of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument in California recently, President Obama declared it to be “an issue of social justice.” Well, this was certainly giving a new stretch to an old term. In what way could the creation of a National Monument be considered to be an act of social justice? It certainly could not be just to the owners of the properties there who will no longer be able to use their property as they saw fit. For them, it will be an act of injustice, a taking of their previous right to property and the free enjoyment of it. For these people, an act of injustice has occurred. So, how can “social justice” trump “individual justice”? Or, is that not even possible?
The ‘social’ in “social justice” implies a group of people, not merely an individual. Hence, social justice means justice for a group, not for a person. But can there be justice for a group that doesn’t create injustice for individuals? Probably not. Here’s why; justice is defined as someone receiving their just deserts, punishment for criminal actions, rewards for virtuous deeds. This is hard enough to achieve on an individual level.
But, on a group level, social justice becomes impossible. Has everyone in the group been equally culpable or, worthy? Not likely. Is everyone not in the group equally guilty or not? Of course not. Hence, by its very nature, every act of ‘social justice’ MUST result in injustices for certain persons. Consequently, since socially just acts are, in their very nature, unjust, there is, in reality, no such thing as social justice.
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