Social wrongs

Arto Laitinen, Arvi Särkelä

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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In this paper we elucidate the notion of ‘social wrongs’. It differs from moral wrongness, and is broader than narrowly political wrongs. We distinguish conceptually monadic wrongness (1.1), dyadic wronging (1.2), and the idea of there being something ‘wrong with’ an entity (1.3). We argue that social and political wrongs share a feature with natural badness or wrongness (illnesses of organisms) as well as malfunctioning artifacts or dysfunctional organizations: they violate so called ought-to-be norms; they are not as they ought to be; there is something wrong with them. In contrast, moral wrongs are violations of ought-to-do norms. Social wrongs typically, but not invariably, include dyadic wronging. We examine who or what can wrong whom or what, and by what means: we can be wronged by individuals and groups, as well as by practices, institutions or structures (2.1–2.3). The notion of structural injustice is compared to the notion of social wrongs in 2.4. Social wrongs are defined as there being something wrong with the social reality (3.3), in comparison to there being something wrong with an organism or a system (3.1), including the narrowly political wrongs of systems of governance (3.2).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1048-1072
Issue number7
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2020
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • ought-to-be
  • social pathology
  • structural injustice
  • wronging
  • Wrongness

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Sociology and Political Science


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