Encyclopedia of the Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy

Living Edition
| Editors: Mortimer Sellers, Stephan Kirste

Justice, Thick Versus Thin

  • Brent G. KyleEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-6730-0_658-1


Ethicists often divide evaluative terms and concepts into thick versus thin. This distinction is supposed to make a difference for metaethical questions such as whether there’s a fact-value gap, whether there are ethical truths, and, if there are such truths, whether they would be objective. Assuming justice is an evaluative concept, we can thus ask whether it should be classified as thick or thin and whether its classification as such might have any significant implications.1

Of course, the question of whether justice is thick or thin depends heavily on what thick and thin concepts are and how they differ. This matter is hotly debated. Three different approaches will be considered later in this entry. But for now, let’s focus on a rough approximation. According to this rough account, thick concepts are specific evaluative concepts that are substantially descriptive. Sample thick concepts include virtue and vice concepts like generosity and cowardice, action concepts like murder...

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Copyright information

© This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the U.S.; foreign copyright protection may apply 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyU.S. Air Force AcademyUSAF AcademyUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • M.N.S. Sellers
    • 1
  • John Tasioulas
    • 2
  1. 1.University System of MarylandBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.The Dickson Poon School of LawKing's College LondonLondonUK