Conception of Justice in the Age of Enlightenment
Philosophers addressed the question of justice within the structure of social life. Most popular was the social contract with the premise that only those actions, laws, or social structures that have the consent of society are just. The most notable philosophers of the period include Hobbes, Locke, Hume, Rousseau, Smith, Kant, and Schopenhauer. Justice is expressed through preservation of the natural rights of each individual and creation of enabling conditions, through moral education, allowing individuals to pursue their own moral perfection. Rousseau’s conception of justice is inherent in the nature of human beings. Kant’s conception of justice is grounded in his theory of morality in the form of a categorical imperative. Importantly, all human beings should be treated as ends and not means.