Summary outline of Sen’s The Idea of Justice

Do you ever do that thing where you cite a particular seminal work so frequently that you think you know it so well but you actually sort of forget the finer argument? It’s incredibly embarassing, not to mention counter-productive, if you get caught out. (!)

As I am laying the foundations for my doctoral research on data justice, I am working through some literature reviews on big concepts to help frame the direction of work. The idea is to set a good base to stop that kind of thing from happening.

If it can be useful for you, I share here a 4 page summary outline of  Sen’s ‘The Idea of Justice’ , an important treatise on what justice is and how to acheive it.

Summary in 3 lines:
  1. A theory of justice needs to be useful in order to judge how to reduce injustice.
  2. Most theories of justice focus on what ‘the perfectly just world’ would look like, negating point #1. We need a comparative approach considering the lives people actually lead.
  3. Justice requires impartiality, which requires a certain objectivity and rationality, especially public rationale, therefore need public discussion and democracy as ‘government by  discussion’.