In the previous posting on this subject, we looked at a few things that make up “the binary difference”: the three principles of economic justice (participation, distribution, and social justice), and the four pillars of an economically just society (limited economic role for the State, free and open markets, restoration of private property, and expanded capital ownership).
Today we will begin looking at how to apply these principles within the larger framework of the Just Third Way of Economic Personalism. For an expanded treatment of this subject, of course, you can purchase the book, Economic Personalism: Property, Power and Justice for Every Person, or download a copy for free from the CESJ website.
Beginning with the principles of economic justice, everything starts with the human person. All human beings are as fully human, and are human in the same way as all other humans. There is no such thing as a second-class human person or a partial human person. No, as human persons, all are “equal” . . . which probably doesn’t mean what you think it means.
This is a little involved, and you might want to skip the following passages [in brackets] if you’re not really interested in the underlying philosophy or just want to get straight to the subject at hand.
|Aquinas and the Analogy of Being|
[Human persons are not all “equal” in the popular understanding of that term. Instead, human beings are “complete analogues” of each other with respect to that which defines us as human. There is no difference between human persons in this regard, but at the same time we are not clones or identical copies. All human persons — and all human beings are ipso facto human persons — have all that it is that defines human persons as human persons, and have it in the same way as all other human persons.
[This is called “the Analogy of Being.” We are not copies of each other, but “analogues.” It is why “analogue television” is “analogue television.” The picture you see on the screen is not the original picture, but exactly like it in every respect that makes it just like the original picture — but without being that picture or any other picture except itself.
[Similarly, every human being is exactly like every other human being in what defines us a human beings, but without being any other human being except ourself. This is consistent with the philosophical “principle of identity,” which is the positive aspect of the first principle of reason: “that which is true, is as true, and is true in the same way, as everything else that is true.”
|Aristotle: all things seek the good.|
[Now, what defines us as human persons and is “analogously complete” (say “equal,” even though it’s not, strictly speaking, accurate) in the same way in all other human persons is — are you ready for this? — the capacity to become more fully human!
[That is, we are all already fully human and human in the same way, but by becoming virtuous — acquiring and developing that human-ness for which we have the analogously complete capacity — we become more fully human, which conforms to the meaning and purpose of life as defined within an Aristotelian philosophical framework.
[Now back to our regularly scheduled program.]
Economic justice is an application of social justice, the virtue that is directed not to individual goods, but to the common good. Economic justice therefore demands that every human person have full participation in the economic common good at all levels, including production, distribution, and consumption.
As we saw in the previous posting, economic justice consists of three principles, which are themselves types of justice. These are participation (participative justice), distribution (distributive justice), and feedback and correction (social justice).
|All are fully human and human in the same way.|
As for the common good, it is the good that defines us as human persons. At the most basic level, the good common to all human persons is the capacity to become more fully human. As it manifests in human society, the common good is that vast network of institutions (social habits) within which human persons exercise their natural rights — especially life, liberty and private property — thereby becoming more fully human or “virtuous.”
Social justice, therefore — as the feedback and corrective principle that is itself a particular virtue — is concerned with reforming the institutions of the common good when they are not functioning properly. That is, when human persons are not able to participate in the common good or receive distributions according to their relative inputs, social justice reforms or restructures the affected institutions so that justice, charity, and the other virtues can once again function, and people can participate and receive distributions according to the requirements of participative and distributive justice. Social justice does not substitute for or replace individual justice and charity, but makes them able to do their job once again.
Since in binary economics there are two factors of production — labor and capital — each and every human being must therefore be able to participate in economic activity in all its aspects. As a producer, each person must have access to the opportunity and means to use labor, capital, or both to be productive, and as a consumer to have full access to what his or her labor and capital produce to be able to consume it.#30#