A daunting obstacle to clarity in formulating ideas about conflict resolution and social justice is the fact that each of these terms has multiple meanings. There is widespread recognition that "social justice" is a multivalent phrase. Commentators since Aristotle have written of distributive, restitutive, retributive, procedural, and relational justice, and each of these types has been further subdivided to reflect differences in social philosophy and in common usage. Less well recognized is the ambiguity of "conflict resolution," a term that refers to a mélange of theories and practices that, although interrelated, do not constitute a cleanly demarcated and coherently defined whole. To name a few large subdivisions in this evolving field, we are accustomed to speak of alternative dispute resolution, principled negotiation, relational transformation, public dispute resolution, analytical conflict resolution, and individual or communal reconciliation processes.

Author Bio(s)

Richard E. Rubenstein is Professor of Conflict Resolution and Public Affairs at the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at the George Mason University.


alternative dispute resolution (ADR), analytical conflict resolution (ACR), conflict resolution, public dispute resolution (PDR), social justice

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