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Sen’s Realization-Focused Notion of Justice and the Burden of Democratic Governance in African Societies
O.A. Oyeshile
To what extent and in what ways can our conception of justice enhance democratic governance in Africa? In this disquisition, we took as our foil two dominant conceptions of justice, namely: (1) the contractarian/arrangement-based, and (2) the comparative/realization- focused. We examined these two broad conceptions, particularly Amartya Sen’s critique of the former and his defence of the latter in his seminal work, The Idea of Justice (2010). We argued that Sen’s comparative/realization-focused notion of justice is not an alternative but a complement to the arrangement-based conception. We noted that transcendental institutionalization of justice based on the establishment of perfect institutions and rules has not had firm routes in African body polity, thereby making it very difficult to talk about the realization–focused notion of justice with its plural demands of justice. We concluded that African societies must appropriate these two complementary notions of justice in order to witness any sustainable development in the twenty-first century.

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