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Arham Mushtaq

Cinque Terre

Dec 02, 2019 | Arham Mushtaq

Distributive versus procedural justice

In social life, justice serves as the key component to maintain balance and control. It is very important indicator as without justice the entire social pyramid may collapse. The concept of justice has always been a tricky one. Dealt perhaps by early and the greatest philosophers of Greek, justice has always eluded the physical realm. Because of certain metaphysical attributes, the concept justice can only be partly explored. Nevertheless, on the practical side, we have working definition and understanding of justice.

For the social elements that comprise the group, the idea of what is fair and what is not – acts as a cohesive force. Most people in a group would agree on some common minimum denominator. Although some variance may be observed, but the larger consensus and collective conscience gives it an objective character.   

Distributive justice issues arise when one considers two sets of questions: Who gets what, and how? And who should get what, and how? Some writers have suggested that the distinction between the concepts of procedural justice and distributive justice is critical to a complete understanding of the ways in which people evaluate justice. Procedural justice refers to the mechanisms or decision rules by which reward allocations of social goods are made, while distributive justice is concerned with the resulting allocation. These are two aspects of the same process and are clearly related, but conceptually they purport to refer to two distinct features of justice. Typically, distributive justice issues are thought of in terms of the comparison of the rewards received by a person or a group with a standard of fairness or deservedness, whereas procedural justice issues refer to the ‘mechanics’ of the system that regulates the process of distribution.

It is useful to distinguish three components of the distributive justice process: (1) the principles for the allocation of goods, (2) the system that governs the application of those allocative principles, and (3) the resulting distribution. While separable in this sense, these are all components of what is best thought of in terms of distributive justice, which is the overriding concept. Many scholars suggest that procedural justice is a key aspect of distributive justice, not something that is necessarily separate or separable. Procedural justice matters come to the forefront and arouse complaints of injustice more often than do the principles of justice, primarily because justice principles are often taken for granted, whereas procedural matters are not.

From this formulation, one can see that these three components—principles, procedures, and distributive outcomes—are likely to be confounded and confused in social life. If there is consensus on evaluative principles and if a clear and just set of procedures can be said to exist to implement those values, distributive justice presumably will follow. Procedural justice thus is an important component in the evaluation of distributive justice, and in the pure case the evaluation of distributive justice is not problematic. If, however, there is no consensus on the principles for allocating rewards in a social group or society or if there is a consensus but procedures are seen as ineffective or corrupted, distributive justice will be called into question.

In such situations, the evaluation of distributive justice focuses on the evaluative principles that should be used, the application of the principles, or both. Therefore, the principles of allocation and the procedural aspects of allocation may be intrinsically inseparable, and it may not be clear whether unjust outcomes result from the ‘wrong’ principle being used or from misapplication of the ‘right’ principle.

In summary, while it seems useful to distinguish procedural justice from other components of the distributive process, it is not at all clear that procedural and distributive justices are really different forms of justice. Instead, they are different aspects of a common process. Clearly, distributive justice issues arise when persons perceive the allocative mechanisms to be unjust or perceive imperfections in the application of just mechanisms to real life. It can be seen, then, that overall evaluations of justice at the micro-social level or the macro-social level may be influenced by perceptions of the fairness of procedural or distributive justice issues. However, this distinction ultimately becomes the empirical issue of whether and under what sets of conditions distributive versus procedural injustice is perceived by the actors involved.

 

Dec 02, 2019 | Arham Mushtaq

Distributive versus procedural justice

              

In social life, justice serves as the key component to maintain balance and control. It is very important indicator as without justice the entire social pyramid may collapse. The concept of justice has always been a tricky one. Dealt perhaps by early and the greatest philosophers of Greek, justice has always eluded the physical realm. Because of certain metaphysical attributes, the concept justice can only be partly explored. Nevertheless, on the practical side, we have working definition and understanding of justice.

For the social elements that comprise the group, the idea of what is fair and what is not – acts as a cohesive force. Most people in a group would agree on some common minimum denominator. Although some variance may be observed, but the larger consensus and collective conscience gives it an objective character.   

Distributive justice issues arise when one considers two sets of questions: Who gets what, and how? And who should get what, and how? Some writers have suggested that the distinction between the concepts of procedural justice and distributive justice is critical to a complete understanding of the ways in which people evaluate justice. Procedural justice refers to the mechanisms or decision rules by which reward allocations of social goods are made, while distributive justice is concerned with the resulting allocation. These are two aspects of the same process and are clearly related, but conceptually they purport to refer to two distinct features of justice. Typically, distributive justice issues are thought of in terms of the comparison of the rewards received by a person or a group with a standard of fairness or deservedness, whereas procedural justice issues refer to the ‘mechanics’ of the system that regulates the process of distribution.

It is useful to distinguish three components of the distributive justice process: (1) the principles for the allocation of goods, (2) the system that governs the application of those allocative principles, and (3) the resulting distribution. While separable in this sense, these are all components of what is best thought of in terms of distributive justice, which is the overriding concept. Many scholars suggest that procedural justice is a key aspect of distributive justice, not something that is necessarily separate or separable. Procedural justice matters come to the forefront and arouse complaints of injustice more often than do the principles of justice, primarily because justice principles are often taken for granted, whereas procedural matters are not.

From this formulation, one can see that these three components—principles, procedures, and distributive outcomes—are likely to be confounded and confused in social life. If there is consensus on evaluative principles and if a clear and just set of procedures can be said to exist to implement those values, distributive justice presumably will follow. Procedural justice thus is an important component in the evaluation of distributive justice, and in the pure case the evaluation of distributive justice is not problematic. If, however, there is no consensus on the principles for allocating rewards in a social group or society or if there is a consensus but procedures are seen as ineffective or corrupted, distributive justice will be called into question.

In such situations, the evaluation of distributive justice focuses on the evaluative principles that should be used, the application of the principles, or both. Therefore, the principles of allocation and the procedural aspects of allocation may be intrinsically inseparable, and it may not be clear whether unjust outcomes result from the ‘wrong’ principle being used or from misapplication of the ‘right’ principle.

In summary, while it seems useful to distinguish procedural justice from other components of the distributive process, it is not at all clear that procedural and distributive justices are really different forms of justice. Instead, they are different aspects of a common process. Clearly, distributive justice issues arise when persons perceive the allocative mechanisms to be unjust or perceive imperfections in the application of just mechanisms to real life. It can be seen, then, that overall evaluations of justice at the micro-social level or the macro-social level may be influenced by perceptions of the fairness of procedural or distributive justice issues. However, this distinction ultimately becomes the empirical issue of whether and under what sets of conditions distributive versus procedural injustice is perceived by the actors involved.

 

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