Abstract

To show fidelity to something, whether to a person, sports team, or set of ideals, is to display a complex of actions, dispositions, and attitudes with respect to it: to accept that it exercises a certain hold over one’s mind and body. To be faithful to one’s god, for instance, requires observing relevant norms and rituals, as well as affirming certain beliefs and being strong enough to withstand certain temptations. To be faithful to one’s romantic partner typically requires both adhering to norms of behavior and withstanding (or better, being immune to) temptations to violate those norms, and also embracing or endorsing those norms simply because they are the norms that structure the relationship. Just as one can be more or less true or faithful to one’s god or one’s romantic partner, it seems that one can be more or less true or faithful to one’s principles, such as principles of justice.

We will be concerned in this paper to reflect on what is required of us to show fidelity to a conception of justice—a set of principles regarding the manner in which a society’s major social institutions should be organized and social relations structured— and in particular what this means for individuals living under what are by their own lights unjust institutions. We will defend two principles that articulate what we claim are core aspects of the requirements of fidelity to justice, briefly considering some of their implications.