Dagan and Dorfman, ‘Just Relationships’

This article argues that contemporary accounts of justice miss a relational dimension of justice, which focuses on the terms private individuals’ interactions must meet for them to constitute relationships among equal, self-determining persons. This dimension cannot be subsumed in liberal theories of distributive justice that take individuals to be patients and hold state institutions responsible to respect them as such; it is also different from the requirement, advanced by democratic egalitarians, that every person is entitled to be respected as a citizen and therefore has the special standing to produce, on equal terms, the norms under which he or she lives.

Moreover, we claim that if we are to take relational justice seriously, the requirement, endorsed by both modern Kantians and division-of-labor liberal egalitarians, that people respect each other as independent and formally equal individuals is not sufficient. Our personal differences and the fundamental significance of our interdependence to our self-determination entail that the (canonical) more substantive liberal understandings of freedom and equality are just as crucial in our horizontal relationships as they are in our vertical ones. A normatively defensible conception of relational justice must therefore cast interpersonal interactions in terms of frameworks of relationships between self-determining individuals who respect each other as the persons they actually are.

Dagan, Hanoch and Dorfman, Avihay, Just Relationships (July 8, 2014).

First posted 2014-07-09 12:52:21

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