School of Economic Science
JUSTICE

 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    School of Economic Science - Study Forums Forum Index -> Economics Forum
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
Leonie Humphreys



Joined: 23 Sep 2008
Posts: 216
Location: West Dorset, UK

PostPosted: Wed Oct 08, 2008 10:08 am    Post subject: JUSTICE Reply with quote

When we hear the word ‘justice’ we instinctively feel we understand what this means - yet if asked to explain what that is - it is not so easy.

Here are several quotes on the nature of justice:


‘Justice has nothing to do with expediency. It has nothing to do with any temporary standard whatever. It is rooted and grounded in the fundamental instincts of humanity.’
Woodrow Wilson: Speech in Washington


‘True law is right reason in agreement with Nature; it is of universal application, unchanging and everlasting; it summons to duty by its commands, and averts from wrong-doing by its prohibitions. And there will not be different laws at Rome and at Athens, or different laws now or in the future, but one eternal and unchangeable law will be valid for all nations and for all times, and there will be one master and one ruler, that is, God, over us all, for He is the author of this law, its promulgator, and its enforcing judge.’
Cicero: De Republica, 111,xxii, 33.


‘The laws or measures are there for the regulation of the creation and for a systemic way in which to share its goodness by all.’ AND
‘The universe manifests through love, is sustained and nourished by love and ultimately it will merge into love. Love is knowledge and laws of nature which work as justice. All forms are held by law.’

Shri Shantananda Saraswati


Sir William Blackstone wrote commentaries on the laws of England (1765) in which he states the ‘eternal, immutable laws’, such as ‘we should live honestly, should hurt no-one and should render to everyone his due’. He continues ’[the creator] has so intimately connected, so inseparably interwoven the laws of eternal justice with the happiness of each individual, that the latter cannot be attained but by observing the former; and, if the former be punctually obeyed, it cannot but induce the latter’ so people should pursue, he suggests, their ‘own true and substantial happiness’.


Woodrow Wilson echo’s the words of Blackstone. But if we should instinctively or intuitively know what is ‘just’ then why is there so much injustice? Are we (as individuals) and some of our systems & laws out of tune with justice?

Further thoughts and comments on the nature of justice are invited.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Joseph Milne



Joined: 17 Apr 2008
Posts: 326
Location: Herne Bay, Kent, UK

PostPosted: Fri Oct 24, 2008 1:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

These are all magnificent expressions of the nature of Justice, Leonie. Yet, as you say, it remains very difficult for us to understand Justice with any real clarity. At the same time it would seem that Justice is one thing that all people ought to understand and have the capacity to understand by virtue of human nature itself. And for this reason Henry George held that economics was a subject that everybody can understand.

I have been reading the discussions on this forum and it seems that one of the great problems in trying to understand Justice in economics lies in the fact that certain long-standing injustices make it difficult to clearly see how Justice is an aspect of Nature as such, and not merely a human invention. For many people the very idea that economics could be "lawful" in and of itself would be a strange idea. The "abstracting" of economics into mathematical formulas or mere inhuman mechanisms clouds and confuses how society as such may be seen. And so the question of Justice become very elusive.

This problem of the elusiveness of Justice has urged me to explore the history of what once was called Natural Law. I am persuaded that the vanishing of the tradition of Natural Law corresponds with the modern clouding of conceptions of Justice. We live at a time when the principles of things have got lost under that mass of detail, or else laid aside for immediate pragmatic expediency. The present "credit crunch" is a good example. It ought to call us to explore fundamental principles. If fact, it does. It is yet another reminder of how out of accord with the real nature of society our modern conceptions have become.

During the summer I was invited to give a paper at a conference on Philosophy and Politics at Manchester Metropolitan University, in the section Religion and Politics. I chose to present a short paper on Aquinas and Natural Law. This did not go down very well as most of the scholars and postgraduates there were all more or less atheists or Marxists. But one young researcher did like my paper and said this was exactly what she was looking for, but which here supervisor was unable to direct her to sources for.

From this and other discussions I had at the conference it became very clear to me that, not only is the tradition of Natural Law passed over in present academia, its historical presence is hardly even known. Modern political thinking operates within a very narrow time-scale. Thus, once again, it is very difficult to focus on essential principles.

Anyway, I attach the paper I gave for all here who might like to read it. I should only mention that this paper represents a small fragment of the larger researches I am presently undertaking in Natural Law. But Aquinas is a good place to start. Any comments or criticisms or suggestions would be welcome as I intend to prepare the paper for one of the academic journals (which mostly means decorating it with footnotes!).

The paper may be downloaded as a PDF files at:
http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~alfar2/upload/manchester.htm

Joseph
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Leonie Humphreys



Joined: 23 Sep 2008
Posts: 216
Location: West Dorset, UK

PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2008 5:13 pm    Post subject: How does natural law & justice inform economics? Reply with quote

Many thanks Joseph for your comments and paper, which I found beautiful. The question that remains for me is how does or could this notion of Natural Law and justice inform economics? You describe Aquinas's understanding of Natural Law (and justice as an expression of it) as 'the manner in which the being of things may come to their fullest expression and development both in itself and for the sake of all things.' and 'nature [as] intelligent and oriented towards the maximum fullness of being and reason at all levels.' These seem very beautiful and fundamental descriptions of Natural Law yet how can this inform the debate on genetic engineering and use of nuclear power for example, with their associated dangerous side effects in the former (see Soil Association Seeds of Doubt report) and unimaginably dangerous waste products of the latter? These are some of the questions I have sought answers for in the realm of Natural Law and justice. Where do we draw the line? I wonder if you can shed any light on these issues?
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Joseph Milne



Joined: 17 Apr 2008
Posts: 326
Location: Herne Bay, Kent, UK

PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2008 10:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Leonie,

Thank you for your comments and questions – questions I am not sure I can adequately answer!

The challenge of what Aquinas is saying, which expresses a wide consensus of the scholastics at that time, is a way of seeing Nature (or the Universe) as meaningful and purposeful, and therefore lawful. For all the advances in modern science, we live in an age in which any kind of “direction” in the tendencies of nature are simply not recognised. Instead we still have the mechanistic view of Nature from the empiricism of the Enlightenment. And this includes most environmental thinking too.

At the same time, what Aquinas understands as the Natural Law will produce bad consequences if ignored. With reference to your question concerning genetic engineering, we need to consider why such a thing is thought to be needed. If it is believed that “poverty” is the result of overpopulation, or of limited natural resources, then it is logical to try to compensate for the lack of Natural provision. But of course this is to miss the real causes of poverty, which are not due to overpopulation or lack of natural resources, but to the failure to observe the Natural Law. In immediate economic terms, as Henry George understands Natural Law, poverty is caused by failing to observe the Law of Rent and the distinction between what may rightly be called private property and what belongs to Nature and is available equally for all – for all creatures as well as all men.

From Aquinas’s point of view, all things are first given by the Creator to all creatures, including their own being. Existence itself is a gift of Providence, of the Divine Law from which the Natural Law is derived through reason. Henry George quotes Aquinas:

Human law is law only in virtue of its accordance with right reason and it is thus manifest that it flows from the eternal law. And in so far as it deviates from right reason it is called an unjust law. In such case it is not law at all, but rather a species of violence. (Henry George, Open Letter to Pope Leo XIII, p. 23)

Here “right reason” signifies a true correspondence between thought and the truth of reality. Thus Natural Law is evident in things themselves. But it is not merely mechanistic law (the modern way of conceiving the laws of nature), but a reflection of the Eternal Law which brings all things into being and draws them to their true and good ends, all in harmony with one another. Thus there is no “deficiency” of resources that need to be compensated for through human ingenuity. The real needs of the creatures are already wholly provided for, in accordance with their part within the total order and end of the cosmos.

So we have two difficulties in trying to see how what Aquinas says may be practical in our present crisis of the environment. First, it calls us to look afresh at Nature and begin to understand that it is ordered far more intelligently and rationally than the past 300 years have regarded, second we need to begin to distinguish those actions taken by modern man because of a wrong or distorted understanding of Natural Law. There is a confusion enters thinking when attempts are made to mitigate the effects of living out of accord with Natural Law. The modern welfare state is a good example. So long as we have laws which produce poverty, so long will we have to take actions to mitigate that poverty.

The problem with this mitigating solution, well intentioned as it may be, is that it fails to grasp the real causes of poverty. And because it fails to grasp the real causes it acts in confusion, failing often to see the real consequences that will follow from mitigating laws, and thus endlessly having to create more mitigating laws. Such laws are “a species of violence” in so far as they are out of accord with the Natural Law.

It is important, then, to observe that the modern problems of the environment, genetic engineering and monopoly of natural resources and so on, all spring from a conception Nature which is false or severely limited. A false or limited view of Nature inevitably produces destructive consequences. It produces a wrong relationship between the human species and Nature.

Given this, the only real response to the destructive consequences of acting contrary to, or in oblivion of, the Natural Law is to attempt to rediscover the Natural Law. This means trying to understand the fundamental principles of human society and its place within Nature, and ultimately within the Divine plan of the Creator. Trying to solve particular problems in isolation from this fundamental enquiry cannot really deal with these particular problems.

It is remarkable that whenever the question of the ethics of some modern technology is raised, we are told that the ethics is a “public” or “political” concern completely separate from the technology itself, or from the technologists themselves. This separation of practice from ethics would have been wholly inconceivable in the Middle Ages or in ancient Greece. Is it not worth asking how such a separation has come about?

I feel that Aquinas would invite us to ponder the fundamental principles of Nature first, and then come to dealing with specific problems second. When Aquinas considers the moral nature of man, he does not begin with moral decrees, such as the Ten Commandments, but rather with the essence of human nature itself as made in the image of God, and therefore essentially good and drawn to all that is good. Likewise with the Creation; it too is essentially good and all its many forms are oriented toward the Good.

Joseph
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Steve Carney



Joined: 10 Oct 2008
Posts: 10
Location: York, Yorkshire, UK

PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 8:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Leonie, Joseph,

It was very interesting to read Joseph's introduction to Aquinas's views on Natural Law. Very timely also. I'm attempting to incorporate Aquinas's and Aristotle's views into an MSc thesis on the subject of community prosperity. It's the culmination of an environmental study. Much has been made in recent years in political circles of how community can be roused to solve many problems. This has been the aim of the so called Third Way (Ezioni, etc) and New Labour's great Idea.

Joseph was hinting towards the end of his work as to how community might manifest Natural Law and it would be good to see this arguement developed. My approach to Aquinas has been through a theologian named Thomas Pieper who re-stated Aquainas's ideas (I'd tried Summa and found it inpenetrable!). I can thoroughly recommend Pieper's book The Four Cardinal Virtues, it is a huge delight, and a great practical window into Aquinas and Aristotle. EF Schumacher was heavily influenced by Pieper.
So far, I've found that Aquinas gave three aspects of Justice, the ignorance of which takes us away from Good. Aquinas saw community as a natural outcome of justice. First is the relationship between human individuals, second between each individual and the state and thirdly between the state and each individual. Each of these three relationships is different and calls for different considerations. Aquinas explains each with great practicality and how they relate to the Good.

I'd welcome any further insights into this insight....in the interests of self preservation!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Leonie Humphreys



Joined: 23 Sep 2008
Posts: 216
Location: West Dorset, UK

PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 8:09 pm    Post subject: Natural Law & transformation Reply with quote

Joseph, Steve

Thank you for your response, Joseph. There does seem to be some gap between the principles of Natural Law and implementation of that understanding into everyday laws. However, you mention several areas where understanding Natural Law can contribute to the debate on how to regulate human activities.

The question you pose regarding why such dangerous methods of production are used, such as foods through genetic engineering and energy through nuclear power, is very revealing. Research I have undertaken (through Open University courses in the environment for example) indicates that neither of these methods are efficient at providing either food or energy (respectively) and both rather illustrate the profit maximising of firms operating under the conditions of global capitalism or the so-called ‘free market’. Furthermore, the excessive use of energy and food in some places is unsustainable and needs to be addressed anyway.

Poverty as you point out is not ‘natural’ and can be addressed through reformed capitalism (economics). The ideas of Henry George are very useful here.

The ‘mitigating’ solutions that you indicate are ‘a species of violence’ since they do not address the fundamental problem also illustrate the need to get to grips with causes.

The lack of understanding by scientists of ‘the direction of tendencies in nature’ towards ‘full flourishing’ indicates that science is missing something. Could this be addressed? The ‘full flourishing’ of living creatures can be protected by the Precautionary Principle for example, which states that: ‘In order to protect the environment the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by states according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.’ This could perhaps be set in law (and developed further?) in order to be more effective.

How we have become so separate from nature may not be very difficult to answer – in our drive for ‘progress’ and comfortable lifestyles we have simply ignored common sense to a certain degree and protection of the natural world has had to be introduced after the event over the last couple of hundred years, since industrialisation began, it seems to me.

So, where does that leave us now?! The problems are urgent. What is understood of Natural Laws by many people such as yourself, environmentalists and economic reformists needs to be put into practice in a more proactive manner – the news from America seems to be inspiring people that ‘change’ is good and Obama’s rousing speech where he insists we ‘can’ change will provide a very useful impetus, hopefully.

My own understanding is that if we care for the environment as a premise of all our human activities, and address the economic issues at the same time, in particular land/tax reform in order to reward effort rather than ownership and deal more fundamentally with the money issue (the importance of which is so graphically illustrated through the financial crisis today) there is an opportunity for transformation towards more sustainable and equitable lifestyles, although it won’t be easy.

I have attached an outline of my understand of what would be required to reform capitalism to meet these aims: ‘Reforming Capitalism: principles and steps for transformation’ (developed and posted also in response to Richard Glovers questions under the topic Land and Monetary Reform), and welcome comments on whether this seems accurate and in tune with Natural Law, and how any such ideas aimed at justice, equity and sustainability could be developed and put forward so that they may be accepted and acted on in the political arena today.

Steve, you mentioned community and Natural Law. I found it very interesting that Aquinas discusses three relationships: between individuals, individuals and the state and the state and individuals. I am not sure that I follow why the last two are different, yet it is interesting how under capitalism and under communism these relationships are very different (I have mentioned this in ‘Reforming Capitalism’). There needs at least to be a balance between the state and the individual but also there can be a positive relationship, rather than one based upon Hobbes’ view that life is ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short’ and hence we subjugate our will to the state! Under conditions of Natural Law (justice & equity) these relationships do not have to be so negative, but rather mutually supporting. I wonder, do you feel that the election of Obama may be a manifestation of an appeal for a more just system and more healthy communities?



REFORMING CAPITALISM.doc
 Description:
REFORMING CAPITALISM: principles & steps for transformation

Download
 Filename:  REFORMING CAPITALISM.doc
 Filesize:  67.5 KB
 Downloaded:  448 Time(s)

Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Joseph Milne



Joined: 17 Apr 2008
Posts: 326
Location: Herne Bay, Kent, UK

PostPosted: Thu Nov 06, 2008 11:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Leonie & Steve,

I will try to address your questions as directly as possible.

In looking at Aquinas and Natural Law we need to keep in mind that it is his belief that human reason inclines towards the knowledge of the truth of things. This is what is meant by understanding man as the rational being. But also, man is the political being. This means man naturally inclines towards community. Both these notions of human nature go back to Aristotle’s ethics and politics, which Aquinas is adapting and synthesising into the larger Christian vision, which understands human nature also as seeking final fulfilment in the knowledge of God, in blessedness.

Given this, then the discernment of Natural Law is nothing else than perceiving the laws of Nature as they apply to all things, and the specific ways they apply to mankind. This involves two things. First, that all beings at every level of Nature are oriented or inclined toward the Good. This Good is at once the full flourishing of each being according to its nature, and the flourishing of all beings in harmony with one another. This inclination of Nature manifests at the human level through participation through reason, through knowledge and understanding. For this to be possible, human community is essential. Without high order human society “thought” is not really possible, because thought belongs essentially to the realm of dialogue – to speech and language, because man is the speaking being. This means that the thought that is most effective, or most fruitful, manifests through common understanding.

This raises an important point. While we all desire to remedy the problems of the world that now confront us, there appears to be a law, a Natural Law, that progress is possible only through common or communal understanding. This also means that if a false knowledge of things is held to be true in common, that will produce its own outcome. This is why we cannot take a direct leap from theoretical understanding of Natural Law to enacting remedies to specific problems – such as poverty or the abuse of the environment. Poverty and abuse of the environment are the manifestations of the current notions of the truth of things. The material effects follow the rational causes. This way of looking at society and human activity in relation to the earth belongs to Natural Law.

For Aquinas, and for Aristotle and Plato before him, the only proper aim of society should be the pursuit of virtue, because virtue is the enactment of the knowledge of the right relation between each person and society, and between society and reality as a whole. Virtue is to act in accord with the truth of things, including the truth of human nature. This means that the pursuit of wealth is of secondary importance to human nature and to society. For Aristotle, those who give all their energies to gathering wealth as an end are examples f human depravity.

It is clear, however, that in our age the majority everywhere are unable to properly sustain themselves, and that even in the wealthy countries the greater part of wages is taken from the labourer by the landowner, through “unearned income” – or theft. In such a situation of enforced poverty amid the vast creation of wealth, it is understandable that the acquisition of wealth should seem the first and most pressing priority. This is the tragedy. The unnecessary poverty depresses the powers of human reason to seek that truth of things, or the Natural Laws by which society would almost effortlessly flourish.

Thus for Aquinas, or Aristotle or Plato, the “ill” that needs addressing is the lack of applying reason to the truth of things, and to understanding the true nature and end of society within the whole natural order of the cosmos. So long as this is left without due attention and thought, then all the “mitigating” efforts to remove the consequences are of no real avail. Good will is not enough. The right understanding needs to inform the will first.

If we live in the Darwinian conception of nature as in perpetual struggle of one species against another, such as Richard Dawkins paints, then it is not surprising that human society also appears to be the mere struggle of the strong and the weak, as Marx also saw it. There is a direct connection and correlation between how we conceive Nature at large, the whole cosmos, and how we conceive human society.

Terrible as the present situation is, both in terms of the ecology and human poverty (which are not really different problems), enough people have the resources and the leisure to consider and study the fundamental questions of the nature of society and Natural Law to transform the situation through understanding. From the viewpoint of Aquinas one cannot overleap understanding and go straight to remedy, simply because the “problem” in the first place is ignorance or false conceptions. The “remedy” is for society to become virtuous, to act from and towards the Good. So a great part of the difficulty in these times arises through trying to force a remedy without seeking the Good – as with animal rights crimes for example. Seeking change through force is really just more of the same.

But moving in the direction of the understanding of Natural Law is by no means easy. The very question of Natural Law presupposes a meaningful universe in which all creatures have a part and may flourish fully. The understanding of the universe that Aquinas grounds his thought in has been superseded by the mechanistic notion of the universe – by “Newton’s sleep” as Blake called it. Since the 17th century human society has come to be regarded as “outside Nature”, or even as opposing Nature (Hobbes, Adam Smith etc.) The “world” is merely “material” for man to plunder, or to exercise his will over through science and technology. Given this, it is no wonder that most people cannot begin to see the basis of the Law of Rent and the natural tax as George proposes. For modern man to suppose he can privately own land (Nature) reflects precisely the prevailing world-view. Poverty and environmental neglect inevitably follow from the prevailing world view. So as much as we may desire to remove poverty and preserve Nature, we cannot do so under such a conception of the world.

This very fact, that we cannot simply remedy the situation, itself points to the deeper truth that what is truly needed is a new understanding of the nature of reality as a whole, all the way from the highest spiritual level down to the smallest material level. One way, as far as I can see, that moves in this direction, is to recover the now lost understanding of Natural Law that once informed all philosophy and theology in the West.

Steve, yes, I too would recommend Josef Pieper to anyone interested in approaching Aquinas. Along with The Four Cardinal Virtues which you recommend, I would especially recommend Living the Truth, which explores the way Aquinas understands how truth is in all things. Depending how far you may wish to delve into Aquinas, I would also recommend The Perfection of the Universe According to Aquinas by Oliva Blanchette – a book to get through your library as it is very expensive to buy.

Joseph
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Leonie Humphreys



Joined: 23 Sep 2008
Posts: 216
Location: West Dorset, UK

PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2008 9:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Joseph,

Thank you for your full response. I wonder if there are different views on the nature of ‘economics’ which in my understanding is not necessarily concerned with the ‘pursuit of wealth’ nor the ‘acquisition of wealth’ but rather with the creation and distribution of wealth to meet human needs. The drive of many in business is certainly based on the acquisition of wealth, yet reform of economics based upon an understanding of Natural Law, as you suggest, is essential in order to provide the right conditions that you mention since ‘unnecessary poverty depresses the powers of human reason to seek the truth of things’. For this reason a just, equitable and sustainable economic system is not so much the expected outcome of the pursuit of virtue, but in fact is required as the foundation for the pursuit of virtue, surely? Hence it does not seem wholly reasonable to suggest that ‘we cannot simply remedy the situation’ although of course it is true that ‘one cannot overleap understanding and go straight to the remedy’. You suggest that we need to ‘recover the now lost understanding of Natural Law’ and there are those, such as yourself, that are undertaking this task. My personal studies have involved some work in this area over a period of around 18 years in the realm of both economics and spiritual philosophy. My search currently therefore is to use that understanding as a basis to suggest reforms that are aimed at ‘community understanding’ (not force), as you suggest. It may well be that the political reality will not allow for a full expression of economics founded in Natural Law, but even amelioration of the current problems, based upon a move towards the Good, must surely be better than nothing? Is there not also a duty to at least put forward these ideas, once understood, at a practical level so people can choose for themselves? Perhaps I am an idealist or optimist but I can’t help having faith in the original nature of justice described as ‘rooted and grounded in the fundamental instincts of humanity’, as Woodrow Wilson says. Those instincts are in harmony with Natural Law.

The issue of ‘ownership’ of land and Nature for practical purposes may not be so much a problem of type of tenure but of duties that balance the rights that ‘owners’ are only too happy to exercise. These duties, in my understanding, from the study of the work of Henry George and others, are that ‘rent’ (or some of it) should be collected for the community whilst proper care is taken of the land. It seems to me that understanding of these duties is dawning, at least care for the environment.

The paper I have produced ‘Reforming capitalism: principles and steps for transformation’ is certainly aimed at moving towards the ‘Good’ and ‘full flourishing’ for all beings. It is not an academic work but one aimed at engaging ‘community understanding’ which may be elusive, but I for one, sincerely hope it is not impossible at this time, if for no other reason than for the sake of our children and grandchildren.

Leonie
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Michael Shepherd



Joined: 07 Dec 2007
Posts: 1395
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2008 11:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Leonie

I've read your paper with admiration, and I hope it elicits comment from the more expert here.

As one almost incapable of an economic thought (in every sense) beyond domestic economy -- may I ask two very naive questions ?

1) What would actually happen, immediately and in the foreseeable future, if charging and receiving interest were made illegal overnight ?

2) Accepting that we are all thieves, in respect of our claim on land as private property... and until legislation is passed to right the situation justly -- how, in a spiritual sense, might we behave better, individually, to prepare for that move -- beyond 'spreading the word' ? How might we redeem ourselves individually in the use of our 'stolen property' ?

I hope you can make some sense of this second question !

Michael
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Leonie Humphreys



Joined: 23 Sep 2008
Posts: 216
Location: West Dorset, UK

PostPosted: Sat Nov 08, 2008 5:28 pm    Post subject: Interest & theft Reply with quote

Michael,

Great questions! There is a discussion underway on these issues on the other side as it were – under ‘Land Value Tax and Monetary Reform’ on this Forum, so in my capacity as Moderator I think it would be best to answer your questions under that topic for two reasons. It would be useful to keep the discussions together on these issues, and I hope that the discussion on justice and Natural Law that Joseph has got underway here may continue. Natural Law can inform the debate on economic reforms and I hope that he and others can help to develop those discussions. Any suggestions for reforms that we make need to at least be in harmony with Natural Law and Joseph and others input will be most helpful in this respect.

So, over to LVT & Monetary Reform where I have copied your questions and posted my response....

Leonie
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Leonie Humphreys



Joined: 23 Sep 2008
Posts: 216
Location: West Dorset, UK

PostPosted: Sun Nov 09, 2008 5:02 pm    Post subject: Natural Law Reply with quote

Joseph,

I have some more questions for you if you are willing!

You have stated that ‘Natural Law presupposes a meaningful universe in which all creatures have a part and may flourish fully’. This is a simple, beautiful and succinct description. You follow this later with:

‘...what is truly needed is a new understanding of the nature of reality as a whole, all the way from the highest spiritual level down to the smallest material level. One way, as far as I can see, that moves in this direction, is to recover the now lost understanding of Natural Law ...’

In view of the need for a spreading of understanding of principles (in harmony with Natural Law) that govern or should govern economic activity if it is to be founded in justice and environmental sustainability, my question is: what aspects of human activity are already moving towards the Good and full flourishing of all beings, in your opinion? In particular, if you feel it is relevant, in the area of economic activity? Also do you think it would be useful and possible to build on these? I suppose what I am seeking is a ‘space’ for the dialogue to take place, where those who understand the natural laws can put them forward and those that are looking for solutions can hear them, so that they can be useful in ways that are both acceptable and practical for the present time, if that makes sense?

Leonie
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Steve Carney



Joined: 10 Oct 2008
Posts: 10
Location: York, Yorkshire, UK

PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 8:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Leonie,

I've put some thoughts together on the topic of Aquinas and Justice. Re-reading the Summa it reminded me just how important a work it is. How can I upload the document to the Forum?

Steve
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Steve Carney



Joined: 10 Oct 2008
Posts: 10
Location: York, Yorkshire, UK

PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2008 8:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Leonie,
Here are a few notes on the subject of Aquinas and justice in the light of ancient greek thinkers. I hope it is useful. I'd welcome any comments!

Steve



Aquinas - Justice in Communities.doc
 Description:

Download
 Filename:  Aquinas - Justice in Communities.doc
 Filesize:  94 KB
 Downloaded:  675 Time(s)

Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Leonie Humphreys



Joined: 23 Sep 2008
Posts: 216
Location: West Dorset, UK

PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 7:43 pm    Post subject: Justice in a community Reply with quote

Dear Steve,

Thank you so much for your paper ‘When may justice be said to prevail in a community?’

I have tried to pick out key aspects of justice as you have outlined Aquinas’ understanding.

Commutative Justice: due to natural flux giving rise to injustices restitution is constantly required to adjust for acts of injustice. People must learn how to act their part through restorative justice (since every action makes us either a creditor or a debtor). I wonder if there is anything more you can say about restorative justice?

Distributive Justice: exercise of power of the ruler (as the representative of the social whole) and that conveyed to the individual by the ruler. The ruler must give to individuals their share of the common wealth, proportional to their contribution to the common wealth. Responsibility for justice lies with the rulers, therefore the qualities of the leader are of paramount importance. Mark of success is the contentedness of the citizens.

In a Democracy: Voters need to be educated on what constitutes the common good and how it may be delivered impartially.

Bonum commune: the product of the community which arises out of use of the ‘free’ goods of nature. Presumably this is ‘rent’ as described by the classical economists and Henry George?

If this is correct (and please indicate if there is any misunderstanding in my summary above) the implications for political economy are self-evident.

The capacity to deliver impartial justice is required in our leaders and they need to understand and implement systems that lead to sharing the common wealth. In a democracy people need to understand the issue of sharing the common wealth also in order to vote responsibly.

‘Sharing common wealth’ seems to indicate a direct link to the idea that the ‘rent’ of land & natural resources should be used as a source for public revenue and that labour should receive the full reward for effort (as put forward by Henry George).

So, I am delighted to find a direct influence of Natural Law from Aquinas reflected in the potential for economic reforms founded in and leading to justice in the forms you describe as commutative, restorative and distributive justice.

The notion of measuring the success of leadership as ‘contentedness’ of the citizens (through sharing equitably the ‘common wealth’ of the community) is reflected in the idea of ‘well-being’ as a measure of economic success currently being put forward by institutions such as the New Economics Foundation.

I am heartened by this tracing of Natural Law into the realm of cutting edge economics!

I welcome further thoughts on how this understanding may inform our politicians today as they struggle with the now global economic crisis, precipitated by bad (and possibly also corrupt) practices within the financial institutions.

Leonie
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    School of Economic Science - Study Forums Forum Index -> Economics Forum All times are GMT
Page 1 of 1

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You can attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum
This forum is sponsored by the School of Economic Science for use by its members; members of its branches; members
of affiliated schools worldwide and by all other Internet users interested in the study subjects presented.
Powered by phpBB Copyright © FSES, 2007. All Rights Reserved