JSI Seminar Series: The Idea of Small Justice

27 June 2019



The Idea of Small Justice

Speaker: Professor Jonathan Crowe, Bond University

Talk about social or distributive justice, at least among legal and political philosophers, tends to focus heavily on institutions. This way of thinking about justice owes a great deal to John Rawls. Rawls's theory of justice was famously criticised by Robert Nozick who, in turn, attracted an influential critique from G A Cohen. The story of these critiques is well known, but Professor Crowe will tell it in an unfamiliar way, drawing out a lesson that perhaps none of its protagonists would recognise. The moral of the story, as Professor Crowe tells it, is not that Rawls was right or wrong about the features of just social institutions, but rather that by focusing on institutions he thought about justice in an incomplete and unstable manner. The common theme in Nozick's and Cohen's arguments, Crowe contends, is that there is a way of thinking about social justice that focuses not on institutions, but rather on interpersonal relationships. He calls this idea small justice. Small justice might appear, at first, not to be a conception of justice at all. He will suggest that it is, albeit of an unfamiliar—which is to say, a radically non-Rawlsian—kind.

About the speaker

Jonathan Crowe is Professor of Law at Bond University. He is the author or editor of seven books and more than eighty book chapters and journal articles, primarily on legal philosophy, ethical theory and public law. His most recent book, Natural Law and the Nature of Law, was published earlier this year by Cambridge University Press. He is a former President of both the Australasian Society of Legal Philosophy and the Australian Dispute Resolution Research Network.

CPD Points: 1.5


Time: 6-8pm

Location: Common Room, Level 4, New Law Building (F10), Eastern Avenue, Camperdown, University of Sydney

Cost: Complimentary, however registration is essential.

Contact: Professional Learning & Community Engagement

Phone: 02 9351 0429

Email: 27254059510f24572e05771e320a230f0979372c3c680331