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  • V.A Concept of Justice

    From this discussion, at least six principles may be derived that are helpful in understanding the content of justice. The first one is the necessity of having equal standards to be applied to different agents. Second, these standards have to be practically applied in an equal way to different agents in concrete circumstances. Third, equality forms a default principle of distribution. If there is no criterion for an unequal distribution, only an equal distribution is just. Fourth, just treatment presupposes the reasonable determination of the content of criteria of distribution in the respective sphere of distribution. For example, to distribute rights on the basis of skin-colour evidently does not meet these sometimes quite demanding standards. Justice demands to maintain proportional equality between the criterion of distribution and the good distributed. Fifth, restitutive justice serves the purpose of maintaining a just distribution of goods (material and immaterial, like rights) within society. Finally, and importantly, there is a baseline of equality that has to be protected in a just order. This baseline is set by the equal dignity of human beings. Certainly there are cases where inequality of results is just, e.g. in the obvious, aforementioned case of the distribution of grades. But any inequality has to be reconcilable with this basic equality of human beings, a principle rom the based on the dignity of autonomous persons.32

    32See on the debate about dignity MATTHIAS MAHLMANN, Human Dignity and Autonomy in Modern Constitutional Orders, in Michel Rosenfeld/András Sájó (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Constitutional Law, Oxford 2012 (cit. MAHLMANN, Human Dignity), pp. 370; MATTHIAS MAHLMANN, The Good Sense of Dignity: Six Antidotes to Dignity Fatigue in Ethics and Law, in Christopher McCrudden (ed.), Understanding Human Dignity, Oxford 2013, pp. 594; CHRISTOPHER MCCRUDDEN, In Pursuit of Human Dignity: An Introduction to Current Debates, in Christopher McCrudden (ed.), Understanding Human Dignity, 2013, pp. 1.