Justice: Contractual or psychologically Embedded? Two approaches to the idea of Social Justice
Stephens, John Joseph Martin
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I briefly restate the structure and essential elements of Rawls's theory of justice to facilitate an understanding of its basic narrative, before examining a few of the critiques of his approach to the question of social justice. Then an approach to that question is developed, based on an evolutionary psychology (EP) understanding wherein knowledge and principles from evolutionary biology are used in research on the structure of the human notions of social justice. This leads to an understanding of the basic intuitive grasp humans have of the idea of justice from its role in human evolutionary history, which is then formulated in two principles of social justice. This understanding is thereafter related to the Rawlsian narrative and its critiques in a discussion which indicates divergences but also congruencies between the two approaches. It is also noted that the EP approach offers some insights that are lacking in justice as fairness but are also in fact supportive of some of its conclusions and arguments. It is further found that the EP approach has important implications for public policy.