Frames of Justice
Implications for Social Policy
This work is devoted to analyzing three major frames of justice—group justice, individual desert, and life affirmation—and their implications for social policy as well as their reflections in contemporary social policies.
Pelton finds that all three frames of justice are reflected in the Bible and, later, the Koran. He contends that there is no evidence in the Bible of a genesis or development from one frame of justice to another. Rather, a sense of justice has existed in the human mind from time immemorial, with the three frames coexisting and manifesting themselves in both inter- and intra-group relations. The prominence of one frame over another at any particular point in history or in a particular geographical location is influenced by a variety of factors, though it is ultimately open to human choice.
Pelton compares and contrasts the philosophies of nonviolence and liberalism in regard to the frames, and explores the relationships between principle, sentiment, reason, justice, and policy. He discusses social science's problematic relationship to justice in policymaking—for instance, how scholars have focused more on the effectiveness of policies, largely in terms of statistical outcomes reflecting aggregate data analyses, than on their justice. He goes on to explore in depth how frames of justice give direction to social policies, including those of genocide.
Frames of Justice is an outstanding work that analyzes the question of justice and social policy, while simultaneously exploring the notion of desert in religion, philosophy, and legislation—especially within the context of the moral question of the relationship between means and ends—and contrasting it with the principle of life affirmation.
Leroy H. Pelton is a professor in and former director of the School of Social Work, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and professor emeritus of the School of Social Work, Salem State College, Massachusetts. He is the author of The Psychology of Nonviolence, For Reasons of Poverty: A Critical Analysis of the Public Child Welfare System in the United States, and Doing Justice: Liberalism, Group Constructs, and Individual Realities, and the editor of The Social Context of Child Abuse and Neglect. He has also written numerous journal articles on psychology, social work, child welfare, and social policy.
Editorial Reviews"As a student and teacher of social policy and social justice, I always search for sources to enrich my own and my students' learning. Leroy Pelton's powerful, scholarly new book, Frames of Justice, will be an excellent addition to the resource lists I share with my students."—David G. Gil, professor of social policy, Brandeis University
"Frames of Justice is a lucid and timely book. Establishing social justice with respect to three religious texts—the Bible, the Tanakh, and the Koran—Pelton examines the most vexing domestic and international issues of the day. At a time when sectarian values have become ascendant in public policy, this book is indispensable for understanding the origin of past conflicts and the impediments to their resolution."—Dr. David Stoesz, policyAmerica
"Leroy Pelton addresses the fundamental question of how social policies are informed by ideas of justice. In a timely analysis that reveals basic constructs of justice framed along similar lines in the Bible and the Koran, this book illuminates many of the choices confronting policymakers as they struggle to formulate measures that comport with universal notions of fairness."—Neil Gilbert, Chernin Professor of Social Welfare, School of Social Welfare, University of California, Berkeley
"Frames of Justice is a provocative book full of intriguing ideas. Pelton has the courage and the literary skill to connect social policy to justice, and ultimately, to morality. This innovative approach is long overdue. Frames is a must-read for anyone interested in raising social policy to the next level."—Howard Karger, professor, University of Houston, and author of Shortchanged: Life and Debt in the Fringe Economy
"This small volume takes on large issues, including many of the most controversial political policy questions of the last half of the 20th century...This book is primarially a philosophical treatise on life affirmation as the guiding principle for social policy. As I followed Pelton's arguments, I often found myself nodding in agreement right up to the point where the logical conclusion left me feeling that I had been cleverly trapped in a position in which I was not sure I wanted to be. On the other hand, I was not sure that it was not in fact the "right" position, however uneasy it made me feel. This is an unusual book; it is really a book on moral philosophy that is quite critical of social science in a time when one expects books to be exactly the opposite (i.e., social bscience critiques of moral philosophy), at least those books about psychology, social work, and social policy... Pelton's intention is for his logic to lead to application in the real world of politics and social action.Ultimately, the practical implications of Pelton's view must be addressed... A creative reading of this book could stimulate coalitions and perhaps even innovative interventions. It is definitely a book that will lead to lively discussion in any class where social policy is a topic of study."—Julian Rappaport, Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books