, Volume 46, Issue 2, pp 255-257
Date: 11 Apr 2012

David Schmidtz, The Elements of Justice

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Since his first book, David Schmidtz has combined great freshness and clarity of writing with original and sophisticated theory. The Elements of Justice continues the tradition he has established for himself.

From Schmidtz, one might expect a theory of justice, basically along libertarian lines. The book may surprise, though not disappoint, for that is not quite what one would find. Instead, the title is apt. Schmidtz says that there is a terrain of justice, the terrain of what people are due, and it has a certain kind of unity:

What we call justice is a constellation of somewhat related elements. I see a degree of integration and unity, but the integrity of justice is limited, more like the integrity of a neighborhood than of a building. A good neighborhood is functional, a place where people can live well. (p. 3)

Justice, too, is functional, a neighborhood in which people can live well together. What Schmidtz offers are the pieces, the elements, that comprise the neighborhood of justice ...