Structural Injustice: Power, Advantage, and Human Rights

ISBN : 9780190053987

Madison Powers; Ruth Faden
328 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Oct 2019
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Madison Powers and Ruth Faden here develop an innovative theory of structural injustice that links human rights norms and fairness norms. Norms of both kinds are grounded in an account of well-being. Their well-being account provides the foundation for human rights, explains the depth of unfairness of systematic patterns of disadvantage, and locates the unfairness of power relations in forms of control some groups have over the well-being of other groups.
They explain how human rights violations and structurally unfair patterns of power and advantage are so often interconnected.

Unlike theories of structural injustice tailored for largely benign social processes, Powers and Faden's theory addresses typical patterns of structural injustice-those in which the wrongful conduct of identifiable agents creates or sustains mutually reinforcing forms of injustice. These patterns exist both within nation-states and across national boundaries. However, this theory rejects the claim that for a structural theory to be broadly applicable both within and across national boundaries its central claims must be universally endorsable. Instead, Powers and Faden find support for their theory in examples of structural injustice around the world, and in the insights and perspectives of related social movements.
Their theory also differs from approaches that make enhanced democratic decision-making or the global extension of republican institutions the centerpiece of proposed remedies. Instead, the theory focuses on justifiable forms of resistance in circumstances in which institutions are unwilling or unable to address pressing problems of injustice.
The insights developed in Structural Injustice will interest not only scholars and students in a range of disciplines from political philosophy to feminist theory and environmental justice, but also activists and journalists engaged with issues of social justice.


Chapter 1: Introduction
1.1 Structural Injustice
1.2 Plan of the Chapters
Chapter 2: Well-Being
2.1. The place of well-being in our theory
2.2. The Socratic and structural dependence arguments
2.3. The core elements
2.4. A decent human life
2.5. An alternative to universal endorsement approaches to justification
2.6. Three implications of the roles of our conception of well-being
Chapter 3: What justice is
3.1. Moral importance and stringency
3.2. Claimability and specificity
3.3. Rightful enforceability
3.4. Unfairness norms
Chapter 4: what structural injustice is
4.1. Significant impacts, structural components, and social groups
4.2. Social structural components and their systematic influence
4.3. Power, advantage, and social position
4.4. Background assumptions
Chapter 5: Well-being ad human rights
5.1. The function of rights
5.2. Dignity and well-being interests
5.3. The social functions of human rights
5.4. Counterpart duties and general responsibilities: a pragmatic approach
Chapter 6: The Responsibility of States
6.1. The normative uniqueness of state agency and its implications
6.2. The Strong Statist Challenge
6.3. National self-determination arguments
6.4. The Principle of Interstate Reciprocity
6.5. The power of non-State institutions in the current global order
Chapter 7: Real-World Examples
7.1. National sacrifice zones: from Appalachia to Warren County
7.2. The globalization of sacrifice zones
7.3. Segregated cities: two societies,EL separate and unequal
7.4. Urban 'slums': the proliferation of informal human settlements
Chapter 8: Resistance to injustice: activism and social movements
8.1. Individual responsibility in a nearly just society
8.2. Means and goals of resistance in less ideal circumstances
8.3. Targets of resistance: contributors and beneficiaries
8.4. Conclusion: well-being and social movements

About the author: 

Madison Powers is Professor of Philosophy, Francis J. McNamara, Jr. Chair, and Senior Research Scholar, Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Georgetown University. His current research focus is on environmental justice, especially issues of natural resource ownership and use, human rights, global supply chains, and global development. Ruth Faden is the founder of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, it's Director from 1995 until 2016, and the inaugural Philip Franklin Wagley Professor of Biomedical Ethics. Dr. Faden's current research focuses on structural injustice theory, and on justice challenges in food and agriculture, health systems, and biomedical science.

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