With capitalism providing one of the best market systems adopted by many countries around the world, its promotion of economic social and political development and progress can be identified as beneficial to individuals and society in general. However, these benefits are almost eclipsed by persistent inequalities prevailing under the capitalist market system regarding distribution of wealth and income as well as rights, liberties and opportunities necessary for people to fully function in society (Reiff, 2013). Biased towards liberal theory especially due to its central tenets of liberty and equality as opposed to privilege and status towards the betterment of people in society, it is my belief that liberalism provides the most favorable consideration of economic justice for people in our society.
Fundamentally, economic justice is founded on exercising various ethical principles in economic relations between and among people and established economic institutions towards greater economic sustenance which frees individuals to engage in activities beyond economics. Relatedly, the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (2006) of the United Nations Secretariat define it as ‘the existence of opportunities for meaningful work and employment and the dispensation of fair rewards for the productive activities of individuals’. The concept is further identified as having three major principles including participative justice, distributive justice as well as social justice which embody the aforementioned definitions (Kelso & Adler, 1958). This definition also embodies various aspects of liberalism especially social liberalism which leads me to believe that liberalism provides the most favorable consideration of economic justice for people in our society.
This is affirmed by Macpherson (1985) who indicates that economic justice was avoided by classical liberals but accepted by modern liberals; seemingly tied to ‘a decline of confidence in the beneficence and indeed in the possibility of a freely competitive capitalist market economy’. That liberalism provides the most favorable consideration of economic justice for people in our society is summarized by Sullivan (2013) who highlights what modern liberals think of economic justice especially in relation to extremes of wealth and poverty.
This espoused view of economic justice by liberals seems to be advocated for by Thompson (2011), though seemingly tangentially and without some elements, but with the central principles of liberty and equality highlighting a tempered lean towards the latter. In summary, even though shortcomings may be identified of liberalist perspectives in relation to economic justice it provides the most favorable consideration of economic justice for people in our society especially compared to other perspectives like libertarianism.