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Distributive justice concerns what some consider to be socially just with respect to the allocation of goods in a society. Thus, a community in which incidental inequalities in outcome do not arise would be considered a society guided by the principles of distributive justice. Allocation of goods takes into thought the total amount of goods to be handed out, the process on how they in the civilization are going to dispense, and the pattern of division. Civilizations have a narrow amount of resources and capital; the problem arises on how the goods should be divided. The common answer to this question is that every individual receives a fair share. Often contrasted with just process, which is concerned with just processes such as in the administration of law, distributive justice concentrates on just outcomes and consequences. A prominent contemporary theorist of distributive justice is the philosopher John Rawls, although this subject matter has now received wide treatment across philosophy and the social sciences (see James Konow, 2003).


Distributive justice and wealth

Distributive justice considers the distribution of goods among members of society at a specific time, and on that basis, determines whether the state of affairs is subjectively acceptable. For example, someone who evaluates a situation by looking at the standard of living, absolute wealth, wealth disparity, or any other such utilitarian standard, is thinking in terms of distributive justice. Generally, those people who hold egalitarianism to be important, even implicitly, rely on notions of distributive justice. Distributive justice could be considered a means that addresses the burdens and benefits to some norm of equality to members. The definition of distributive justice has stayed constant, compared to other concepts in macro marketing and social economics.

However, not all advocates of consequentialist theories are concerned with an equitable society. What unites them is the mutual interest in achieving the best possible results, or in terms of the example above, the best possible distribution of wealth

Distributive justice in real life policies

Proponents of distributive justice link it to the concepts of human rights, human dignity, and the common good. The concept of distributive justice entails what civilization is said to owe its individual members in a proportion:

  • Resources that are available to the society. This includes financial and market considerations.
  • Everyone in society will receive equitable access to basic health care needs.

Distributive justice theory argues that societies have a duty to individuals in need and that all individuals have duties to help others in need. Many governments are known for dealing with issues of Distributive justice, especially countries with ethnic tensions and geographically distinctive minorities. Post-apartheid South Africa is an example of a country that deals with issues of re-allocating resources with respect to the distributive justice framework.

See also


  • Edmund S. Phelps (1987): "Distributive justice,"The New Palgrave: A Dictionary of Economics, v. 1, pp. 886–88.
  • James Konow (2003): "Which is the fairest one of all?: A positive analysis of justice theories," Journal of Economic Literature, vol. 41, no. 4, pp. 1188–1239. [1]
  • Laczniak, Gene R.; Murphy, Patrick E. (2008): “Distributive Justice: Presing Questions, Emerging Directions, and the Promise of Rawlsian Analysis,” Journal of Macromarketing; Mar2008, Vol. 28 Issue 1, p5-11, 7p, 1 diagram.
  • Health, Ascension . "Principle of Distributive Justice." 2007. Scension Health. 28 Feb 2009 <>.
  • Maiese , Michelle . "The Notion of Fair Distribution." Beyond Interactability. June 2003 <>.

Further reading

  • Hegtvedt, Karen A.; Markovsky, Barry (1995), "Justice and Injustice", in Cook, Karen S.; Fine, Gary Alan; House, James S., Sociological Perspectives on Social Psychology (1 ed.), Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon, 1994, pp. 257–280, ISBN 0205137164  
  • Leventhal, Gerald S.; Karuza, Jurgis Jr.; Fry, William R. (1980), "Beyond Fairness: A Theory of Allocation Preferences", in Mikula, Gerald, Justice and Social Interaction: Experimental and Theoretical Contributions from Psychological Research, New York City, NY: Plenum, pp. 167–218, ISBN 3456807872  

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