3 June 2010

Concordia University (QC)
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What is Justice?
Professor Kathleen Mahoney, University of Calgary, 2008 Trudeau Fellow

Thursday, June 3, 2010, 12:15 p.m. - 1:20 p.m.; a light lunch will be served.

Concordia University, J.W. McConnell Building / Library Building, Room 125, De Sève, 1400 de Maisonneuve West, Montreal
Presentation in English / Simultaneous Translation Available

Organized in partnership with the Canadian Federation for Humanities and Social Sciences Congress 2010 - Big Thinking Lectures

Pierre Elliott Trudeau once won an election based on the slogan, "The Just Society." As a rhetorical device it neatly illustrated his vision for the nation. Presumably those who were persuaded enough by it to vote for him understood that a Trudeau government would change their lives for the better by bringing them more justice. But what is justice? How does more justice improve people's lives? How is it measured? Is it "just" to improve some lives at the expense of others? Does Canada have a distinct form of justice? To answer these questions requires a journey through the world of moral philosophy - a journey Harvard Professor Michael Sandal says, "is a challenge to awaken the restlessness of reason and see where it may lead." Testing and applying the foundational thinking of famous philosophers such as Aristotle, Locke, Kant, Mill, Mackinnon and others helps us to understand that justice is a moving target. Different moral philosophies and principles result in different conceptions of justice, which in turn affect contemporary matters such as equality and inequality, free speech and hate speech, affirmative action and same sex marriage. Therefore this philosophical inquiry into justice is not a "pretty toy" or a "petty quibble." It is unavoidable because we live its answers everyday. This lecture will attempt to show how moral philosophy provides a baseline from which justice can be better understood and evaluated.