Catholic Social Thought and Amartya Sen on Justice

  • Johan VerstraetenEmail author
Part of the Virtues and Economics book series (VIEC, volume 1)


The paper suggests that Sen’s “Idea of Justice” is not only the most inspiring and reasonable response to Rawls ’ “Theory of Justice” but also an important challenge for Catholic Social Thought. The paper shows that Catholic Social Thought and Sen’s Idea of Justice have much in common. It argues that despite the emphasis on individual freedom in Sen’s capability approach, the convergence between his approach and Catholic Social Thought is strong. There are several points of resemblance: the role of indignation and emotion, the implications of a realistic anthropology (“seeking institutions that promote justice rather than institutions as themselves manifestations of justice”), freedom as responsibility, human rights as rooted in our shared humanity, valuing religious wisdom in justice theory.


Social Justice Catholic Social Teaching Pastoral Constitution Catholic Tradition Pastoral Letter 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Rawls, J. 1971. A Theory of Justice. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1999 (revised edition of the 1971 edition).Google Scholar
  2. ———. 1999. The Law of Peoples. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Sen, A. 2009. The Idea of Justice. London: Allen Lane (Penguin Books).Google Scholar
  4. Verstraeten, J. 2000. Re-thinking Catholic Social Thought as Tradition. In Catholic Social Thought: Twilight or Renaissance? ed. J.S. Boswell, F.P. McHugh and J. Verstraeten (BETL157), 59–77. Leuven: Peeters/University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Catholic University of LeuvenLeuvenBelgium

Personalised recommendations