Cover: A Short History of Distributive Justice, from Harvard University PressCover: A Short History of Distributive Justice in PAPERBACK

A Short History of Distributive Justice

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$31.00 • £26.95 • €28.95

ISBN 9780674018310

Publication Date: 09/06/2005


204 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches


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Fleischacker takes on the conventional history of distributive justice, more commonly called ‘social justice’ or ‘economic justice.’ Who first advocated giving material goods to the poor purely on the basis of need? Some histories attribute this line of thinking to figures as far back as Plato or Aristotle; others claim to find it in Rousseau. But Fleischacker convincingly demonstrates that the true origin of this idea is far more recent than we might think—and that the first great thinker to advocate it was none other than that tree-hugging liberal Adam Smith. Although the topic may seem dauntingly academic, the author has a readable, conversational style; the work of philosophers as diverse as Cicero, Hume, and Kant is discussed with energy, style, and wit.—Steve Weinberg, American Lawyer

A Short History of Distributive Justice is marked by extensive research, careful thought, and clear exposition.—D. D. Raphael, British Journal for the History of Philosophy

Engaging and very readable… This is a marvelous book which should be read by all social workers. By causing social workers to consider the complex issues the concept of social justice raises, Fleischacker’s book may facilitate a more nuanced and sophisticated understanding of what has become a central concept in the field.Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare

This will be an important book. Its thesis is highly original and interesting, it displays impressive erudition in making its argument, the argument itself is cogently made, and all this is done in a remarkably modest amount of space.—Daniel Brudney, University of Chicago, author of Marx’s Attempt to Leave Philosophy

Fleischacker provides a fascinating account of the development of our contemporary notion of distributive justice. This is an excellent book that fills a real need.—Stephen Darwall, University of Michigan, author of Welfare and Rational Care

This is a succinct, coherent, and wide-ranging history of distributive justice that will be a boon for teachers and students. Written with a light touch, it will provoke discussion and thought, raising the possibility of seeing things differently. A fine contribution.—Ross Harrison, University of Cambridge, author of Hobbes, Locke, and Confusion’s Masterpiece

Awards & Accolades

  • A Choice Outstanding Academic Title of 2005

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