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Justice and Social Equity Critical Essay

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Updated: Dec 27th, 2019


By virtue of the Stanford Encyclopedia of philosophy entries, both justice and social equity can be explained in relation to distributive justice and justice as a virtue. Justice can be defined as the concept of the rightness of morals. These morals are based on inter alia law, equity, ethics or natural law backed by sanctions in case of breach. On the other hand, social equity refers to the just and fair distribution of resources in a given society.

The Concept of justice and Social Equity

The concept of distributive justice is governed by normative principles that have been designed for purposes of guiding the allocation, as well as benefits and detriments of economic activity. The concept of distributive justice tends to observe strict egalitarianism that calls for the allocation of material goods in equal amounts to all.

For example, where a resource of public utility like electricity is in question, then all parts of the society should benefit from this resource as opposed to it being enjoyed by only a portion of members of the society.

Furthermore, distributive justice also maintains the ‘different principle’ that permits allocation in cases where it is contrary to strict equality, but its effect is not detrimental. This means that its effect must be in such a way that the least advantage in the society is in better condition materially than under the strict equality (Lamont 2007).

Justice as a virtue is further reflected in the Stanford Encyclopedia (Lamont 2007). It refers to individual’s traits that could be good or bad. The phrase is evidently ambiguous and may thus vary depending on individuals or social applications. Historically, both Aristotle and Plato’s perceptions of justice as a virtue proved that they were rationalists.

The two scholars employed the role of reason in their perception of what was just and fair. A good example is the fact that, it is considered unjust when one refuses to pay a debt or steals.

Ethical thinkers have thus supported the fact that, justice is not based on mere sentiments. Instead, they advocate for a more intellectual and constructive rational in determining what is just. More scholars have also presented their distinct opinions about justice as a virtue using both virtual and non-virtual approaches.

Threats to Justice and Social Equity

In his article, Frederickson reveals the existing connection between social equity and justice (2008). Additionally, he also outlays the challenges that befall social equity in both society and public administration. The author talks about Philip J. Rutledge in his leadership implemented in public administration and social equity (Frederickson 2008).

Evidently, social equity can be influenced by the changing attitudes existing towards fairness and governmental programs that are aimed at bringing equality. The challenges that affect social justice are said to be based on racial and gender prejudices, as opposed to existing economic differences. Ethnicity and race therefore puts the ‘poverty face’ on and also gives it an identity.

A good example in where it affects the Hispanic, African American, Indians and also native Americans who, according to the article, were only 3 percent of enrolled students in the University of California (Fredericks 2008).

In the book “The State of social equity in America Public Administration”, more is revealed about threats that are faced by social justice and equity. Over the years, public administration is said to have led the way when it comes to social equity.

Historically, this concept of social equality in public administration was emphasized on matters concerning service delivery, gender and race in employment as well as democratic participation. The situation has since then improved but still ought to be addressed because equity is today defined in a much broader way (Frederickson 2010).


In a nutshell, the concept of justice and social equity is inevitable when it comes to public administration and thus of high importance. Despite the fact that justice and social equity has improved over the years, there still exist certain threats that act as a stumbling block as discussed above.


Fredrickson, H. (2008).Social Equity in the Twenty-First Century: An Essay in Memory of Philip J. Rutledge. Journal of Public Affairs Education, 14(1): 1-8.

Fredrickson, H. (2010).Social Equity and Public Administration: Origins, Developments and Applications. New York: M.E Sharpe.

Lamont, J. (2007). . Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Web.

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