This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

Distributive justice

Next we come to the relationship between the community at large and the individual. When we consider this relationship from the point of view of the community, it is called distributive justice, as opposed to legal justice, which is the same relationship viewed from the other direction—from the point of view of the individual. Distributive justice regulates those things owed by the community to a participating and law-abiding member according to his contribution and need.[1] It is in accordance with distributive justice that governing officials must judge whether or not a market is operating to the benefit of each individual in a just manner, and if this is not the case then it may be legitimate to pursue justice through adjustments to market structures, as well as through mechanisms of redistribution.[2]

[1] ST II-II, q. 61, aa. 1-2.

[2] As abhorrent as the very word “redistribution” has become in certain circles, Benedict XVI invoked it no less than eight times in Caritas in Veritate (see paragraphs 32, 36, 37, 39, 42, 49).

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