Although some philosophers who are committed to applying the method of wide reflective equilibrium to theories of justice have already argued that evidence from the social sciences should inform theorizing about distributive justice, it remains unclear how or whether evidence on the impact of sociocultural factors on patterns of reasoning about just distribution should similarly be considered. Neither David Miller nor Adam Swift consider the work done by social psychologists on patterns of distributive justice reasoning among subjects from parts of Asia, e.g. Hong Kong, India, Japan, Korea, and the Philippines. In this paper I fill the foregoing gap by closely examining what it means to be committed to empirically grounded theorizing about justice while being sensitive to sociocultural factors that affect distributive justice reasoning such as a deep and ongoing concern about interpersonal harmony, an overriding interest in benevolence, and an overall relational orientation. I argue that although considering these sociocultural factors do not imply a distinct understanding of distributive justice, philosophical reflection upon them makes for more effective normative recommendations in specific contexts. Moreover, a consideration of sociocultural factors that affect distributive justice reasoning among Asians helps us better appreciate that agreement in judgment about just distribution in a specific case does not necessarily imply agreement on which principles for just distribution are best. The latter idea could help shed some light on disagreements about justice across different cultures.
Jacklyn A. Cleofas, Ateneo de Manila University, The Philippines
Stream: Philosophy - Philosophy and Culture
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