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Catholic Social Science Review

Volume 20, 2015

Marc V. Rugani
Pages 39-52

"Whose Justice? Which Rationality?" in Catholic Debates on a Living Wage
John A. Ryan’s Canons of Distributive Justice as Locus of Contested Traditions of Enquiry

By applying Alasdair MacIntyre’s framework of rival traditions of rationality analogically to Catholic theologians and economists, this paper argues that these two groups can greatly benefit from a reexamination and appropriation of John A. Ryan’s insights when engaging debate on wage justice today, first by understanding the tradition out of which the Catholic Church established its rationale for justice regarding wages, and second by applying Ryan’s innovation of six “canons of distributive justice” for establishing commensurability of concepts in discourse between the traditions of moral theology and economic science. This paper argues that Ryan’s distinctive experience and character allowed him to enter into conversation with a non-native tradition of enquiry to draw forth commensurate concepts that improved the coherence of his native Catholic theological understanding and afforded greater opportunities to discourse with social scientists in meaningful argument for the sake of human welfare.

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