Fairly Just

Dalrymple’s new essay for the New English Review is summed up nicely by a couple of its closing lines.

It is important first to distinguish between unfairness an injustice, but it is also necessary to be aware that the righting of injustice has to be weighed against other considerations. It is possible – I think likely – that a totally just society would be a horrible one. One that was fair would be intolerably dull, for it would eliminate difference.
It also includes a good description of what surely animates many crusading reformers: not correcting injustice exactly, but the meaning in life to be found by correcting perceived injustice.


Sometimes reformers are right; glaring anomalies are susceptible to correction. It is not difficult to find historical examples, nor is it difficult to find examples of necessary reforms in all contemporary societies. Unfortunately, however, reform can easily become a substitute religion, giving meaning to the lives of reformers. As a substitute religion it is not a very satisfactory one…
Read it here

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