Structural injustices and the university: A youngian philosophy of higher education

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Philosophy (Ladderized)

Subject Categories

Higher Education | Philosophy


College of Liberal Arts



Thesis Adviser

Feorillo Petronilo A. Demeterio, III


Iris Marion Young argues that contemporary theorists of justice have framed the problem of justice as the problem of distribution of goods. Reducing the problem of justice to the problem of distribution, according to her, accomplishes two ideological functions, namely: (1) it ignores the social structures and institutional contexts that help determine the distribution of material goods and (2) and it reifies social goods such as power, right, opportunity, and self-respect.
As an alternative, Young proposes the structural paradigm of justice, which revolves around her (1) theory of structural injustice (2) theory of political responsibility and (3) strategies on how to address structural injustices. Structural injustice, according to her, refers to the social condition that deprives some groups of people the right to develop and exercise their capacities (oppression) and determine their actions and the conditions of their actions (domination). Oppression, on the one hand, manifests in the following forms: exploitation, marginalization, powerlessness, cultural imperialism, and violence. Domination, on the other hand, refers to the depoliticization of the public life and homogenization of the society.
According to Young, persons and institutions who/that contribute to the processes that produce structural injustices and those who/that are in the position of power, privilege, interest, and collective ability have the responsibility to address the structural injustices. To address structural injustices, she proposes the following strategies: (1) cultural revolution, (2) affirmative action, (3) democratic decision-making processes, and (4) politics of difference.
Based on Young's theory, this paper argues that the university has a responsibility to address structural injustices because (1) it contributes to the existence of oppression and domination in the society and (2) it has the power and collective ability to address structural injustices by instituting (1) cultural revolution, (2) affirmative action, (3) democratic decision-making processes, and (4) politics of difference.
But while the university in its ideal form may have the capacity to perform its responsibility of addressing structural injustices, universities in the contemporary period, according to Noam Chomsky and Henry Giroux, are suffering from corporate domination as manifested in the: (1) casualization of the faculty, (2) indoctrination of the students, (3) commodification of knowledge, and (4) neglect of liberal education.
This paper argues that, given its contemporary condition, the university can perform its responsibility of addressing structural injustices by liberating itself from corporate domination by (1) defending higher education as a public good (2) politicizing the faculty and (3) conscienticizing the students.

Abstract Format






Accession Number


Shelf Location

Archives, The Learning Commons, 12F Henry Sy Sr. Hall

Physical Description

1 computer optical disc; 4 3/4 in


Young, Iris Marion, 1949-; Philosophy; Education, Higher

This document is currently not available here.