Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Judith Shklar on Misfortune and Injustice

Some thoughts to get us rolling. In "Misfortune and Injustice," Shklar comments that we are all unjust: "[T]here is always a strong impulse to do nothing, if at all possible. We all tend to be passively unjust."

She continues:
"The very distinction between injustice and misfortune can sometimes be mischievous. It often encourages us to do either too much or too little. That something is the work of nature or of an invisible social hand does not absolve us from the responsibility to repair the damage and to prevent its recurrence as much as possible. Nor can we respond to every unjust act. America's favorite game, passing the blame, is not always constructive" (p. 55).
Why does Shklar say this? And how are these comments related to her subsequent observations about scapegoating? e.g., on p. 60 where she writes, "Next to guilt, the most truly unjust and unwarranted response to accidents and disasters is scapegoating."

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