If you were lucky enough to live under just institutions, you would be morally unburdened in various ways. You could be confident that the legally valid entitlements you possessed, your opportunities and achievements, were rightfully yours. You could be confident that, insofar as others were less fortunate than you, this was not through some unjust advantages that were conferred on you or unjust disadvantages that had been imposed on them. Most of us are not so lucky. Nearly all of us accept that our social institutions fall far short of being just, even if we disagree about what justice requires, or what progress towards realizing justice would look like. Consequently, we must consider what it means to show adequate fidelity to our convictions about how a society’s major social institutions should be organized and social relations structured while living in a world that is rife with injustice. Fidelity derives from fides—faith in Latin. To show fidelity to something, whether to a person, sports team, or set of ideals, is to display a complex of actions, dispositions, and attitudes with respect to it: to accept that it exercises a certain hold over one’s mind and body. To be faithful to one’s god, for instance, requires observing relevant norms and rituals, as well as affirming certain beliefs and being strong enough to withstand certain temptations. Our aim in this paper is to consider what fidelity to justice might plausibly consist in.
Virtual seminar with Christian Barry (ANU). To receive the link to the event, please sign up on Eventbrite. Event co-sponsored with the Political Theory Research Group at the University of Edinburgh.