Texas A&M Law Review

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In the current hyper-partisan environment, it is tempting to treat those who disagree on social, political, and even legal issues with disdain—as willfully ignorant or irrational or profoundly mistaken or even evil. This is surely true with respect to debates on issues regarding access to justice. Besides courtesy, there is an important philosophical reason for avoiding this attitude and treating opponents in our arguments about access to justice with respect: W.B. Gallie’s idea of “essentially contested concepts,” which, as Gallie describes it, includes social justice. My goal in this essay is to illustrate how understanding social justice as an essentially contested concept helps us see more clearly what is at stake when we debate issues pertaining to access to justice.

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