Reimagining the Just City: Social Selves, Substantive Justice, and the Concept of Property
Prevailing property regimes generate material and social conditions that increasingly conflict with the overriding moral aim of enabling all people to live fully human lives, particularly in the setting of cities, where most people now live, and where our lives are practically, ontologically, and morally intertwined with our social and ecological contexts. The philosophical underpinnings of these prevailing property regimes, which were developed in social and normative contexts very different from our own, have been predicated upon notions of human ontology and justice that are now inadequate to the aim of bringing about greater justice for all in the settings of contemporary cities. Reflecting on the ecologically- and socially-imbricated nature of personhood reveals the philosophical and practical need for a more substantive notion of justice informed and supported by the moral demands of care and sustainability. Addressing manifest injustices in a responsible manner requires a philosophical reconstruction—through self-correcting, democratic methods—of the norms, practices and institutions that comprise property relations, to bring about more just situations, more stable relations of care, and greater eco-social sustainability. In this project, I first explore the unique context of contemporary cities and the problem of inadequate affordable housing as a representative example of a property-linked situation of injustice. Second, I explore the meta-philosophical background of genealogical pragmatism, a promising method of reconstruction that allows theorists and practitioners to develop realistic and context-sensitive transitional changes that chart a path of “nonreformist reform” in response to manifestly unjust situations. Third, I develop an account of eco-social personhood and, thus, sketch a framework for interpreting what the moral aim of living a fully human life entails, taking the activity of work as a central and representative example. Fourth, I articulate a non-ideal theory of substantive justice that is informed and supported by the moral demands of care and sustainability. Finally, I return to the theme of property relations to articulate how a background of eco-social personhood and a substantive theory of justice informed by care and sustainability must guide a reconstruction of the practices and institutions that comprise property relations in contemporary cities.
Berry, Nicholas, "Reimagining the Just City: Social Selves, Substantive Justice, and the Concept of Property" (2023). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI30318963.