Democracy and justice are often mutually antagonistic ideas, but in this innovative book Ian Shapiro shows how and why they should be pursued together. Justice must be sought democratically if it is to garner legitimacy in the modern world, he claims, and democracy must be justice-promoting if it is to sustain allegiance over time. Democratic Justice meets these criteria, offering an attractive vision of a practical path to a better future. Wherever power is exercised in human affairs, Shapiro argues, the lack of democracy will be experienced as injustice. The challenge is to democratize social relations so as to diminish injustice, but to do this in ways that are compatible with people's values and goals. Shapiro shows how this can be done in different phases of the human life cycle, from childhood through the adult worlds of work and domestic life, retirement, old age, and approaching death. He spells out the implications for pressing debates about authority over children, the law of marriage and divorce, population control, governing the firm, basic income guarantees, health insurance, retirement policies, and decisions made by and for the infirm elderly. This refreshing encounter between political philosophy and practical politics will interest all those who aspire to bequeath a more just world to our children than the one we have inherited.
Shapiro successfully tackles not only one but both of the great divides in contemporary political philosophy :that between fair procedures and good outcomes, and that between theory and practice.