A PASSION FOR JUSTICE: Emotion and the Origins of the Social Contract by Robert C. Solomon

A PASSION FOR JUSTICE: Emotion and the Origins of the Social Contract

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KIRKUS REVIEW

From Solomon (Philosophy/Univ. of Texas; About Love, 1988; Love, 1981, etc.)--a detailed, stylistically lively, but frequently repetitious study of the concept and practice of justice in human affairs. Solomon's main argument here is that for a society to achieve greater justice, the individuals comprising it must struggle on a day-to-day, personal basis to be just. Yet too often, Solomon argues, individuals abdicate to courts, police, and other institutions the responsibility for justice. Thus, justice becomes abstract, something far removed from the power of ordinary individuals. Added to his feeling of impotence is the cynicism that individuals feel in the face of what they see as a basically unjust world--with, for example, glaring disparities in wealth between the Third World and the industrialized nations. What is to be done? Solomon argues that as many individuals as possible need to draw on their human virtues of compassion and altruism. Both of these traits are more naturally human than the self-interest promoted by the laissez-faire school of human affairs, he contends. Individuals must ""rectify particular injustice,"" Solomon states, expressing admiration for individuals who have a passion to do fight: ""Justice is a matter of personal character."" As an example of what he sees as a lack of character in today's world, Solomon cites nouveau fiche yuppies with no sense of noblesse oblige. Entertaining and passionate, but Solomon too often falls into Candide-like attitudes of bringing forth the best of all worlds by the sole elixir of the personal.

Pub Date: Sept. 12th, 1990
Publisher: Addison-Wesley