“Social Justice” — Michael Novak vs. F. A. Hayek

Jay Richards:

Although some folks argue that the phrase “social justice” is so tainted as to be beyond rescue, I think a better strategy is to ask, as does AEI scholar Michael Novak, what is social justice, rightly understood? In his article, “Hayek: Practitioner of Social Justice,” Novak summarizes F.A. Hayek’s famous argument against the term “social justice.” The problem is that it ought to refer to a virtue. In fact, when Popes Leo XIII (1891) and Pius XI (1931) introduced the term into Catholic Social Teaching, this is how they intended it …

Part 1 here.  Part 2 here.

2 comments to “Social Justice” — Michael Novak vs. F. A. Hayek

  • Howiem

    “The problem is that it ought to refer to a virtue.”

    As far as I am concerned, the dandelions in my lawn ought to be chipmunks, but they are not.
    This is like saying that I want it to be, therefore it is, or like saying that “‘Social justice’ sounds so nice that there just has to be a way to use it.”

    It sounds more like the hypothesis behind the man-made-global-warming-must-stop-or-it-will-be-the-end-of-the-earth scam.

    If it takes a 45MB-90MB download to analyze the term, it is unlikely to be of any practical value, given the wide variances in understanding and perspectives of readers. Hayek understood this. If anything is clear, just the use of the term ‘social justice’ has perverted justice rather than enhancing it.

  • sheridan

    re: a previous post of yours

    “A detailed review of the Great Depression clearly demonstrates that loose monetary policy by the Federal Reserve created the stock-market and the housing bubbles that collapsed in 1929 and that the Fed’s failure to maintain an adequate supply of money (M1 and M2) over the period 1929 to 1933 turned a minor recession into a major contraction.”

    How does this measure up with the 1921 recession – during which the Federal Reserve allowed the money supply to contract, but with Harding adopting a hands-off approach thus securing a quick recovery?

    So in light of this fact, should the depth of the Great Depression be largely attributed to Hoover/FDR’s policies, as opposed to monetary mismangament by the Fed?

    It would also be much appreciated if you could direct me to writings on preventing a ‘secondary depression’ (a la Hayek). I.M.O. the problem with a policy of reflating the money supply is that you can never know how to reflate correctly (Hayek’s knowledge problem); that the Fed’s instruments are necessarily blunt; and that it is difficult to distinguish as to wich is a ‘primary’ and a ‘secondary’ depression.

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