In this chapter we shall address the problem of distributive justice, the vexed issue of how wealth and income, goods and services should be distributed or allocated amongst the population of a state. There are many candidate principles that may be applied, some of which I discuss explicitly in what follows, but before we advance any further, I should bring to your attention a restriction which I have placed on this investigation which you may well judge to be arbitrary. For many, the problem of social justice amounts in practice to the social question of how a society should cope with poverty, assuming that the poor are always with us, that even in the richest nations pockets of seemingly uneradicable poverty exist alongside extremes of wealth. This was noticed by the earliest philosophers to observe the social mechanics of developing capitalism. Hegel, to take one example, tells us that ‘civil society affords a spectacle of extravagance and misery as well as of the physical and ethical corruption common to both’.1