Preview Response

Justice / Law

Nicholas Aroney

Professor of Constitutional Law, The University of Queensland, Australia. 

Director (Public Law), Centre for Public, International and Comparative Law, The University of Queensland, Australia.

Affiliated Faculty, Center for the Study of Law and Religion, Emory University School of Law, Atlanta, Georgia, USA. 


The distinction between first and second order justice is important. I would suggest a further distinction however. The first order of justice is defined by reference to ‘interactions’. While actions are an important aspect, there is also the equally important, and perhaps even more fundamental, dimension of justice as character or virtue. I would be good to have more on this.

There is a connection between the preview’s emphases on the social dimensions of justice, justice as rights, and rights grounded in dignity and work I have recently done on the social ontology of human dignity. This social ontology not only involves interactions between individuals, but the formation of associations, organisations and other forms of ‘corporate’ identity. It has to do with the social and communal contexts in which the human person, human dignity and human rights are understood. I have argued that the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and similar human rights instruments, recognise and protect human rights in the context of such forms of human community. For example, the human right to freedom of religion is something exercised ‘in community with others’, and includes the right to establish and maintain religious associations and organisations.