equity, justice (and fairness)

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Senior Member

A friend just asked me for help in understanding the following:

"It is also agreed among many academics and policy-makers that sustainable development should include matters related to justice, inter-generational and intra-generational equity, a trade-off between anthropocentricism and ecocentricism, and a time component."

(Yes, she's in marketing ;-). Now, most of it is clear(-ish) to me, but I'm not sure about the exact meaning of the word "equity". How is it different from "justice"? Does "justice" refer to the legal system here?

This also got me thinking of John Rawls' book "Justice as fairness" - because I think the first word a Swedish person would think of as a translation of either "justice" or "fairness" would be "rättvisa". The book is called "Rättvisa som rent spel" in translation (that's "Justice as fair play" literally).

How much do these three words overlap in meaning and what are the main differences in meaning between them?
  • bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    In this sort of context, "equity" usually is related to the slippery concept of "fairness." Here, it refers to fairness between and among different generational groups.

    Harry Batt

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Where there is no law to determine an outcome equity will furnish the reason for a Court to make a fair decision. Eg. An opera soprano. Inga, is scheduled to sing at the opening of Joe's Bar and Grill for 3 nights. She backs out of the contract to sing at Kelly's Tavern. Joe wants a Court Order for the police to haul her over to his Bar and Grill then force her to sing. There is no law which can force someone to sing. The court finds that Joe cannot receive aid from the Police nor does Inga have to sing at his business. However, the Court issues an order which bars Inga from singing anywhere else in the City on the 3 opening nights. The Court would say, "She who seeks Equity must do Equity. Inga can't sing anywhere else if she won't sing for Joe.
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