Bruce Palmer, ‘What Is an Unjust Act’

This essay proposes an operational or functional definition of an unjust act, an objective definition that would allow one to identify an unjust act across societies and cultures. It distinguishes between ‘injustice’ and a ‘just act’, justice being defined at least in part subjectively, unlike the proposed operational definition of an unjust act.

It expands on the definition and addresses the role of knowledge and responsibility and choice in unjust acts, relying heavily on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, and talks about the role of time and place in unjust acts. Using the essay’s operational definition, it addresses some examples of what an unjust act is and what it is not, including lying and insults. It considers the role of power and privilege in unjust acts and looks into some applications of the definition: parenting, incapacity, incarceration, and war. It proposes kindness as the opposite of an unjust act.

Palmer, Bruce, What Is an Unjust Act (March 19, 2021).

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