Camus, Justice and the Challenges of History

Orme, Mark Philip orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-0882-4744 (2020) Camus, Justice and the Challenges of History. In: Brill's Companion to Camus: Camus among the Philosophers. Brill's Companions to Philosophy: Contemporary Philosophy; Brill's Companions to Philosophy (5). Brill, Leiden, Netherlands, pp. 366-385. ISBN 978-90-04-41924-7

[thumbnail of Author Accepted Manuscript] PDF (Author Accepted Manuscript) - Accepted Version
Restricted to Repository staff only
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.


Official URL:


Following the premature death of Albert Camus in a car accident in January 1960, André Malraux paid tribute to lifelong concern for the moral question, emphasizing that “for more than twenty years, the work of Albert Camus was inseparable from an obsession with justice.” Today, nearly sixty years after the writer’s death, the ideal of “Camus Le Juste” continues to reverberate, and critics have rightly highlighted the importance of the notion of justice in Camus’s moral compass. In this chapter, I propose to examine the underlying principles of this moral mandate which Camus espouses on behalf of impoverished and disfranchised social groups. As we will discover, “Camusian justice” (in so far as one may reason in such terms) is grounded in humanitarian commitment rather than ideological conviction. His is the justice of a humanitarian pragmatist, as we might call it, whereby the pursuit of practical objectives overrides the formulation of theoretical models. Yet, as we will also discover, this pragmatic mind-set would be radically tested by a series of moral dilemmas, as external forces impact on, and come into conflict with what Camus calls his “strong desire to see reduced all the misfortune and bitterness which poisons humankind”, in his youthful correspondence with former teacher Jean Grenier.

Repository Staff Only: item control page