Volume 6, 2017
Ethics and Justice / Éthique et justice
Manuel B. Dy, Jr.
Social Justice in Sun Yat-Sen ’s The Three Principles of the People
The intent of this paper is to derive an understanding of social justice from Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s San Min Chu I, The Three Principles of the People. Sun Yat- sen, the founder of modem China, gave a series of lectures in 1924, setting the goals of the revolution against the Qin dynasty and the foundation of a modem China. The word “justice” is mentioned only once in the lectures and it is paired with “faithfulness,” or trust referring to the ancient moral character or virtue. And yet underlying the whole programme is a notion of justice that is not interpersonal but social. The first part of the paper gives a summary of the meaning of the three principles: nationalism, democracy and people’s livelihood. The second part attempts to draw the meaning of social justice from the three principles, hopefully showing the relevance of Sun Yat-sen’s ideas to our time.