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'Justice' has sometimes been used in a way that makes it virtually indistinguishable from rightness in.
Table of contents
- Justice, Western Theories of | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- What can I do to prevent this in the future?
- One more step
- Homer's View of Justice
- Western Theories of Justice
But the two dominant paths that medieval philosophy would follow for its roughly thousand year history had been blazed by Plato and Aristotle. More specifically, Augustine uses Platonic and neo-Platonic philosophy to the extent that he can reconcile it with Christian thought; Aquinas, many centuries later, develops a great synthesis of Christian thought including that of Augustine and Aristotelian philosophy.
Justice, Western Theories of | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
A great difference, however, between their philosophies and those of Hellenic thinkers such as Plato and Aristotle stems from the commitment of these Christians to the authority of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. Aquinas would later agree with Augustine who is accepting the mandate of Isaiah 7: Righteousness is identified with mercy as well as with justice e. The ten commandments of the Old Testament Exodus In the Beatitudes beginning the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus expands on this gospel of love by advocating that his followers go beyond the duties of justice to behave with compassion in certain supererogatory ways Matthew 5: All of this scriptural tradition essentially influenced medieval thinkers such as Augustine and Aquinas in a way that distinguishes them from ancient Greek philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle.
Aurelius Augustine was born and raised in the Roman province of North Africa; during his life, he experienced the injustices, the corruption, and the erosion of the Roman Empire. This personal experience, in dialectical tension with the ideals of Christianity, provided him with a dramatic backdrop for his religious axiology.
Philosophically, he was greatly influenced by such neo-Platonists as Plotinus. These are prudence substituted for wisdom , fortitude or courage, temperance, and justice. This was to have a profound and ongoing influence on Christian ethics. In his masterpiece, The City of God , Augustine draws the dramatic conclusion from this position that the Roman Empire was never a truly just political society. A genuinely just society must be based on Christian love, its peaceful order established by the following of two basic rules—that people harm nobody and that they should try to help everyone to the extent that they can do so City , pp.
In a letter to Marcellinus, Augustine uses scripture to deny that Christian doctrine is committed to pacifism, though wars should be waged, when necessary, with a benevolent love for the enemy. In a letter to Boniface, he maintains that godly, righteous people can serve in the military, again citing scripture to support his position. Again Augustine makes it clear that he is no pacifist Political , pp.
While this is a very valuable application of his theory of justice, this doctrine of the just war standing the test of time to this very day, the general theory on which it is based is more problematic. The unoriginal and uninspired conception of justice as giving others their due had already become familiar to the point of being trite. It remains vulnerable to the serious problems of vagueness already considered: But, also, Augustine should have an advantage over the ancient Greeks in arriving at a theory of justice based on universal equality on account of the Christian doctrine not to mention because of the influences of Cicero, the Stoics, and Plotinus that all humans are equally children of God.
Thus, while he has some sense of some moral or spiritual equality among humans, it does not issue in equal respect for all persons as free, rational agents, allowing him, for example, to accept the institution of slavery as a just punishment for sin, despite the belief that God originally created humans as naturally free, because of the idea that we have all been corrupted by original sin City , pp. Aquinas discusses the same four cardinal moral virtues, including that of justice, in his masterpiece, the multi-volume Summa Theologica.
No more a socio-political egalitarian than Plato, Aristotle, or Augustine, he analyzes it as calling for proportional equality, or equity, rather than any sort of strict numerical equality, and as a function of natural right rather than of positive law. Natural right ultimately stems from the eternal, immutable will of God, who created the world and governs it with divine providence. Natural justice must always take precedence over the contingent agreements of our human conventions.
In this case, the general category to which justice belongs is that it is a moral habit of a virtuous character. What specifically distinguishes it from other moral virtues is that by justice, a person is consistently committed to respecting the rights of others over time. Strictly speaking, the virtue of justice always concerns interpersonal relations, so that it is only metaphorically that we can speak of a person being just to himself.
Justice is a rational mean between the vicious extremes of deficiency and excess, having to do with our external actions regarding others. Like many of his predecessors, Aquinas considers justice to be preeminent among the moral virtues. Aquinas applies this theory of justice to many social problems.
He maintains that natural law gives us the right to own private property. Secondly, Aquinas refines the Augustinian just war theory by articulating three conditions that must jointly be met in order for the waging of war to be just: It is not justifiable deliberately to slay innocent noncombatants. Even acting in self-defense must be done in reasonable proportion to the situation, so that it is wrong to employ more force than is necessary to stop aggression.
Even killing another unintentionally can be unjust if done in the course of committing another crime or through criminal negligence. Thirdly, while Aquinas thinks we should tolerate the religious beliefs of those who have never been Christians, so that it would be unjust to persecute them, he thinks it just to use force against heretics who adhered to but then rejected orthodox Christianity, even to the point of hurting them, as in the Inquisition, for the good of their own souls.
Fourth, like Augustine, Aquinas accepts slavery, so long as no Christian is the slave of a non-Christian ibid. His applications of the theory can be regarded as indicative of its problematic character: Here again the Christian belief that all humans are personal creatures of a loving God is vitiated by an insufficient commitment to the implications of that, regarding socio-political equality, so that only some humans are fully respected as free, rational agents.
The rationalistic theories of Plato and Augustine and the classical empirical theories of Aristotle and Aquinas all leave us hoping that preferable alternatives might be forthcoming. Although only half as much time elapses between Aquinas and Hobbes as did between Augustine and Aquinas, from the perspective of intellectual history, the period of modernism represents a staggering sea-change. We have neither the time nor the space to consider the complex causal nexus that explains this fact; but, for our purposes, suffice it to say that the Protestant Reformation, the revolution of the new science, and the progressive willingness publicly to challenge authority both political and religious converge to generate a strikingly different philosophical mentality in the seventeenth century.
In the previous century, the Protestant Reformation shattered the hegemony of the Roman Catholic Church, so that thinkers need not feel so constrained to adhere to established orthodoxy. The naturalistic worldview of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries that eventuated in an empirical and experimental non-dogmatic methodology in both natural and political science set an example for philosophers. Thinkers of the modern era became increasingly comfortable breaking from the mainstream to pursue their own independent reasoning. Although the influence of great ancient philosophers like Plato and Aristotle and of great medieval thinkers such as Augustine and Aquinas would persist, there was no returning to their bygone perspectives.
This vitally affects moral and political theory, in general, and views on justice, in particular. As we shall see in this section, views of justice as relative to human needs and interests became prominent as they had not been for a couple of millennia. This will locate Hobbes and Hume closer to the Sophists than had been fashionable since pre-Socratic times in philosophy, regarding justice as a social construct.
Whereas Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas all offer accounts of justice that represent alternatives to Sophism, Thomas Hobbes, the English radical empiricist, can be seen as resurrecting the Sophist view that we can have no objective knowledge of it as a moral or political absolute value. His radical empiricism does not allow him to claim to know anything not grounded in concrete sense experience.
This leads him in Leviathan , his masterpiece, to conclude that anything real must be material or corporeal in nature, that body is the one and only sort of reality; this is the philosophical position of materialistic monism, which rules out the possibility of any spiritual substance. Like other animals, man is driven by instinct and appetite, his reason being a capacity of his brain for calculating means to desirable ends. Another controversial claim here is that all actions, including all human actions, are causally determined to occur as they do by the complex of their antecedent conditions; this is causal determinism.
What we consider voluntary actions are simply those we perform in which the will plays a significant causal role, human freedom amounting to nothing more exalted than the absence of external restraints. Like other animals, we are always fundamentally motivated by a survival instinct and ultimately driven by self-interest in all of our voluntary actions; this is psychological egoism. It is controversial whether he also holds that self-interest should always be our fundamental motivation, which is ethical egoism. In his most famous Chapter XIII, Hobbes paints a dramatic and disturbing portrait of what human life would be like in a state of nature—that is, beyond the conventional order of civil society.
We would be rationally distrustful of one another, inclined to be anti-social, viewing others as threats to our own satisfaction and well-being. Interpersonal antagonism would be natural; and, since there would exist no moral distinctions between right and wrong, just and unjust, violent force and fraudulent deception would be desirable virtues rather than objectionable vices.
Reason discovers a couple of basic laws of nature, indicating how we should prudently behave if we are to have any reasonable opportunity to survive, let alone to thrive. The first of these is double-sided: The second law of nature maintains that, in order to achieve peace with others, we must be willing to give up our right to harm them, so long as they agree to reciprocate by renouncing their right to harm us.
What is conspicuously missing here is any sense of natural justice or injustice. In the state of nature, all moral values are strictly relative to our desires: But as we move from this state of nature to the state of civil society by means of the social contract, we create the rules of justice by means of the agreements we strike with one another. Prior to the conventions of the contract, we were morally free to try to do whatever we wished. But when a covenant is made, then to break it is unjust ; and the definition of injustice is no other than the not performance of covenant.
What is not unjust, is just in civil society. This turns out to be the third law of nature, that, in the name of justice, we must try to keep our agreements. In civil society, we may justly do anything we have not, at least implicitly, committed ourselves not to do. A just person typically does just actions, though committing one or a few unjust actions does not automatically render that person unjust, especially if the unjust behavior stems from an error or sudden passion; on the other hand, a person who is typically inclined to commit unjust actions is a guilty person.
Still, if we are as selfishly motivated by our own desires as Hobbes maintains, why should we not break our word and voluntarily commit injustice, if doing so is likely to pay off for us and we imagine we might get away with it remember the problem posed by Glaucon with the story of the ring of Gyges? Clearly one more element is needed to prevent the quick disintegration of the rules of justice so artificially constructed by interpersonal agreement. This is the power of sovereign authority. We need laws codifying the rules of justice; and they must be so vigilantly and relentlessly enforced by absolute political power that nobody in his right mind would dare to try to violate them.
One of the most crucial problems of political philosophy is where to strike the balance between personal liberty and public order; Hobbes is, perhaps, more willing than most of us to give up a great deal of the former in order to secure the latter. As we have with earlier thinkers, let us see how Hobbes applies this theory of justice, as a prelude to evaluating it critically.
Its rationale is to enforce obedience to the law itself and, thus, to promote security and public order. The severity of punishment should be relative to the severity of the crime involved, since its rationale is to deter future violations of civil law Leviathan , pp. While this is a decent consequentialist theory of crime and punishment, the more general view of justice from which it is derived is far more problematic. It does stand in sharp contrast to the theories of Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas. It does revive something like the Sophist theory to which they were all advocating alternatives.
And it does reflect the naturalistic approach represented by the new science. However, all the foundational elements supporting it are quite dubious: Without these props, this theory of justice as artificially constructed by us and purely a function of our interpersonal agreements seems entirely arbitrary. But in addition to its being insufficiently justified, this theory of justice would justify too much. For example, what would prevent its involving a justification of slavery, if the alternative for the slaves were death as enemies in a state of nature?
Even apart from the issue of slavery, in the absence of any substantive human rights, minorities in civil society might be denied any set of civil liberties, such as the right to adopt religious practices to which they feel called in conscience.
As a transition between Hobbes and Hume, brief mention can be made of John Locke, the most important political philosopher between them. The reason he is not being considered at length here is that he does not offer a distinctive general theory of justice. In order to protect such property rights, people agree to a social contract that moves them from that state of nature to a state of political society, with government established to enforce the law.
Another great social contract theorist between Hobbes and Hume who is worth mentioning here again he gives us no distinctive theory of justice is Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In The Social Contract , he maintains that, in a well-ordered society, the general will rather than the will of any individual or group of individuals must prevail.
True freedom in society requires following the general will, and those who do not choose to do so can legitimately be forced to do so. A human being is allegedly so transformed by the move from the state of nature to that of civil society as to become capable of such genuine freedom as will allow each citizen to consent to all the laws out of deference to the common good.
Like Hobbes, Hume is a radical empiricist and a determinist who is skeptical of justice as an objective, absolute virtue. Any virtue, he maintains, is desirable in that it provides us with the pleasant feeling of approval; and any vice, including that of injustice, is undesirable in that it provides us with the painful sense of disapproval. Hume offers us a unique and fascinating argument to prove his point.
He imagines four hypothetical scenarios, in which either human nature would be radically different utterly altruistic or brutally selfish or our environment would be so with everything we desire constantly and abundantly available or so destitute that hardly anyone could survive , allegedly showing that, in each of them, justice would not be a virtue at all. His conclusion is that justice is only a virtue because, relative to reality, which is intermediate among these extremes, it is beneficial to us as members of society.
He holds a very conservative view of property rights, in that, normally, people should be allowed to keep what they already have acquired. The rationale for such principles of international justice is that they reduce the horrors of war and facilitate the advantages of peace. Yet the rules of justice that are normally conducive to public utility are never absolute and can be legitimately contravened where following them would seem to do more harm than good to our society. Whether that is or is not the case in specific circumstances becomes a judgment call.
Hume is important here because of a convergence of several factors. First, like the Sophists and Hobbes, he makes justice a social construct that is relative to human needs and interests.
What can I do to prevent this in the future?
Second, like Hobbes, he associates it fundamentally with human passions rather than with reason. Third, the virtue of justice and the rules of justice are essentially connected to the protection of private property. And, fourth, he considers public utility to be the sole basis of justice. This theory would prove extremely influential, in that Kant will take issue with it, while utilitarians like Mill will build on its flexibility.
While it may be attractive to allow for exceptions to the rules, this also creates a kind of instability. Is justice merely an instrumental good, having no intrinsic value? If that were the case, then it would make sense to say that the role of reason is simply to calculate the most effective means to our most desirable ends.
One more step
But then, assuming that our ends were sufficiently desirable, any means necessary to achieve them would presumably be justifiable—so that, morally and politically, anything goes, in principle, regardless how revolting. Is this the best we can do in our pursuit of an adequate theory of justice? As justice is both a moral and a political virtue, helping to prescribe both a good character and right conduct, the question of how such obligations arise is crucial.
But, then, what is the logical link here? Why should we, morally speaking, act for the sake of agreeableness and utility? For Kant, the reason we should choose to do what is right has nothing to do with good consequences. It is merely because it is the right thing to do. Then we shall consider the utilitarian response to this, as developed by the philosopher who is, arguably, the greatest consequentialist of modern times, John Stuart Mill, who, as an empiricist, like Hobbes and Hume, will make what is right a function of what is good.
Even though he was not convinced by it, Kant was sufficiently disturbed by it that he committed decades to trying to answer it, creating a revolutionary new philosophical system in order to do so. This system includes, but is far from limited to, a vast, extensive practical philosophy, comprising many books and essays, including a theory of justice. It is well known that this practical philosophy—including both his ethical theory and socio-political philosophy—is the most renowned example of deontology from the Greek, meaning the study or science of duty.
Justice categorically requires a respect for the right, regardless of inconvenient or uncomfortable circumstances and regardless of desirable and undesirable consequences. On this view, matters of right will be equally applicable to all persons as potentially autonomous rational agents, regardless of any contingent differences, of gender, racial or ethnic identity, socio-economic class status, and so forth.
If Kant can pull this off, it will take him further in the direction of equality of rights than any previous philosopher considered here. It is a test we can use to help us rationally to distinguish between right and wrong; and he offers three different formulations of it which he considers three different ways of saying the same thing: For the dignity of all persons, rendering them intrinsically valuable and worthy of respect, is a function of their capacity for moral autonomy. In his Metaphysics of Morals , Kant develops his ethical system, beyond this foundation, into a doctrine of right and a doctrine of virtue.
The former comprises strict duties of justice, while the latter comprises broader duties of merit. Obviously, it is the former category, duties we owe all other persons, regardless of circumstances and consequences, that concerns us here, justice being a matter of strict right rather than one of meritorious virtue.
In his Metaphysical Elements of Justice , which constitutes the first part of his Metaphysics of Morals , Kant develops his theory of justice. To say that we have duties of justice to other persons is to indicate that they have rights, against us, that we should perform those duties—so that duties of justice and rights are correlative. Three conditions must be met in order that the concept of justice should apply: Kant approvingly invokes three ancient rules of justice: Kant distinguishes between natural or private justice, on the one hand, and civil or public justice, on the other.
He has an intricate theory of property rights, which we can only touch upon here. We can claim, in the name of justice, to have rights to a physical property, such as your car, b the performance of a particular deed by another person, such as the auto shop keeping its agreement to try to fix your car, and c certain characteristics of interpersonal relationships with those under our authority, such as obedient children and respectful servants.
Someone who steals your car or the auto mechanic who has agreed to fix it and then fails to try to do so is doing you an injustice. Children, as developing but dependent persons, have a right to support and care from their parents; but, in turn, they owe their parents obedience while under their authority.
Children are not the property of their parents and must never be treated like things or objects; and, when they have become independent of their parents, they owe them nothing more than gratitude.
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Similarly, a master must respect a servant as a person. While the master has authority over the servant, that must never be viewed as ownership or involve abuse. This all concerns private or natural justice, having to do with the securing of property rights. Next let us next consider how Kant applies his theory of justice to the problem of crime and punishment, in the area of public or civil justice, involving protective, commutative, and distributive justice, the requirements of which can be legitimately enforced by civil society.
When a person commits a crime, that involves misusing freedom to infringe the freedom of others or to violate their rights. Thus the criminal forfeits the right to freedom and can become a legitimate prisoner of the state. This extends to the ultimate punishment, the death penalty: A third application to consider here is that of war.
Unlike Hobbes, he does not see this as a basis for all moral duty. It does account for the obligation we have to the state and other citizens. But states have duties to other states, so that there is an international law of nations. Even though different states, in the absence of international law, are in a natural condition of a state of war, as Hobbes thought, he was wrong to think that, in that state, anything rightly goes and that there is no justice.
War is bad, and we should try to minimize the need for it, although Kant is not a pacifist and can justify it for purposes of self-defense. Thus we see Kant applying his own theory of justice in three areas: What shall we critically say about this theory? First, it argues for a sense of justice in terms of objective, non-arbitrary right—against, say, Hobbes and Hume. To focus the issue, ask the question, why should we be just?
For Plato, this is the way to achieve the fulfillment of a well-ordered soul. For Aristotle, the achievement and exercising of moral virtue is a necessary condition of human flourishing. For Hobbes, practicing justice is required by enlightened self-interest. For Hume, even though our being just may not benefit us directly all the time, it is conducive to public utility or the good of the society of which we are members. But for each of these claims, we can ask, so what?
If any combination of these claims were to turn out to be correct, we could still legitimately ask why we should therefore be just. His theory as we have considered it here is a paradigmatic example of the view of justice being advocated in this article, as essentially requiring respect for persons as free, rational agents. Kant represents the very sort of bourgeois conception of justice against which Marx and Engels protest in their call, in The Communist Manifesto, for a socialistic revolution.
Marx explains the ideal of socio-economic equality he advocates with the famous slogan that all should be required to contribute to society to the extent of their abilities and all should be allowed to receive from society in accordance with their needs. John Stuart Mill, a nineteenth-century English philosopher, was aware of the call for a Communist revolution and advocated progressive liberal reform as an alternative path to political evolution.
Whereas Kant was the first great deontologist, Mill subscribed to the already established tradition of utilitarianism. Near the end of his life, Mill observed that it was the closest thing to a religion in which his father raised him. And, if he was not the founder of this secular religion, he clearly became its most effective evangelist. In Utilitarianism , his own great essay in ethical theory, Mill gives his own statement of the principle of utility again employing a curiously religious word: This presents the deceptive appearance of a remarkably simple rubric for practical judgment: But what is deceptive about this is the notion that we can sufficiently anticipate future consequences to be able to predict where our actions will lead us.
Notice, also, that unlike Kantian deontology, which makes what is right independent of good consequences, utilitarianism makes the former a function of the latter. We have already discerned what the former concept means and now need to elucidate the latter. Mill lays out five dimensions of justice as we use the term: People commonly associate all of these with justice, and they do seem to represent legitimate aspects of the virtue. Therefore there purportedly cannot be any genuine conflict between utility and justice.
If there ever were circumstances in which slavery were truly useful to humanity, then presumably it would be just; the reason it is typically unjust is that it violates utility. The main goal here is to reduce justice to social utility, in such a way as to rule out, by definition, any ultimate conflict between the two. Thus, the social role played by our sense of justice is allegedly that it serves the common good. The problem Mill sets for himself here is where to draw a reasonable line between areas in which society can rightly proscribe behavior and those in which people should be allowed the freedom to do as they will.
It is not acceptable to use power against others to stop them from hurting only themselves. Mill candidly admits that this principle is reasonably feasible only with regard to mature, responsible members of civilized societies—not to children or to the insane or even necessarily to primitive peoples who cannot make informed judgments about their own true good.
He seems confident that utility will always require that freedom be protected in these areas ibid. Let us now see how Mill applies his utilitarian theory to three problems of justice that are still timely today. First of all, the issue of punishment is one he considers in Utilitarianism , though his discussion is aimed at considering alternative accounts rather than conclusively saying what he himself thinks we might also observe that, in this short passage, he attacks the social contract theory as a useless fiction ibid. As a utilitarian, he favors the judicious use of punishment in order to deter criminal activity.
In , as an elected member of Parliament, he made a famous speech in the House of Commons supporting capital punishment on utilitarian grounds. Although it is clear that he would like to be able to support a bill for its abolition, the lawful order of society, a necessary condition of societal well-being, requires this means of deterring the most heinous crimes, such as aggravated murder. He even thinks it a quicker, more humane punishment than incarcerating someone behind bars for the rest of his life.
Thus his utilitarian theory provides him with a basis for supporting capital punishment as morally justifiable. A second famous application of his utilitarian theory of justice Mill makes is to the issue of equal opportunity for women. Here, again, we have an issue of social justice to which his utilitarian theory is applied, generating liberal conclusions.
Our third issue of application is that of international non-intervention. Although defensive wars can be justifiable, aggressive ones are not. It can be justifiable to go to war without being attacked or directly threatened with an attack, for example, to help civilize a barbarian society, which, as such, allegedly has no rights. All of this is presumably a function of utilitarian welfare. Once more, a still timely moral issue has been addressed using the utilitarian theory of justice. These applications all plausibly utilize the values and reasoning of utilitarianism, which, by its very nature, must be consequentialist.
Surely, the premium he places on human happiness is admirable, as is his universal perspective, which views all humans as counting. The problem is in his assumptions that all values are relative to consequences, that human happiness is the ultimate good, and that this reduces to the maximization of pleasure and the minimization of pain.
Homer's View of Justice
From its founding, American political thought had an enduring focus on justice. After considering the formidable contributions of Rawls to justice theory and some of its applications, we shall conclude this survey with a brief treatment of several post-Rawlsian alternatives.
A key focus that will distinguish this section from previous ones is the effort to achieve a conception of justice that strikes a reasonable balance between liberty and equality. This led to a greatly developed book version, A Theory of Justice , published in , arguably the most important book of American philosophy published in the second half of the last century. He also makes it clear early on that he means to present his theory as a preferable alternative to that of utilitarians. If you must decide on what sort of society you could commit yourself to accepting as a permanent member and were not allowed to factor in specific knowledge about yourself—such as your gender, race, ethnic identity, level of intelligence, physical strength, quickness and stamina, and so forth—then you would presumably exercise the rational choice to make the society as fair for everyone as possible, lest you find yourself at the bottom of that society for the rest of your life.
He emphasizes the point that these principles rule out as unjust the utilitarian justification of disadvantages for some on account of greater advantages for others, since that would be rationally unacceptable to one operating under the veil of ignorance. Again, this is anti-utilitarian, in that no increase in socio-economic benefits for anyone can ever justify anything less than maximum equality of rights and duties for all. Thus, for example, if enslaving a few members of society generated vastly more benefits for the majority than liabilities for them, such a bargain would be categorically ruled out as unjust.
Rawls proceeds to develop his articulation of these two principles of justice more carefully. The lexical priority of this first principle requires that it be categorical in that the only justification for limiting any basic liberties would be to enhance other basic liberties; for example, it might be just to limit free access of the press to a sensational legal proceeding in order to protect the right of the accused to a fair trial. For example, the office of the presidency has attached to it greater social prestige and income than is available to most of us.
It can be, assuming that all of us, as citizens, could achieve that office with its compensations and that even those of us at or near the bottom of the socio-economic scale benefit from intelligent, talented people accepting the awesome responsibilities of that office. Most of us today might be readily sympathetic to the first principle and the equal opportunity condition, while finding the difference principle to be objectionably egalitarian, to the point of threatening incentives to contribute more than is required.
Rawls briefly suggests that his theory of justice as fairness might be applied to international relations, in general, and to just war theory, in particular ibid. Rawls applies his theory of justice to the domestic issue of civil disobedience. No society is perfectly just.
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If the severity of the injustice is not great, then respect for democratic majority rule might morally dictate compliance. Ultimately, every individual must decide for himself or herself whether such action is morally and prudentially justifiable or not as reasonably and responsibly as possible. The acts of civil disobedience of Martin Luther King to whom Rawls refers in a footnote seem to have met all the conditions, to have been done in the name of justice, and to have been morally justified ibid.
A just society must protect basic liberties equally for all of its members, including freedom of thought and its necessary condition, freedom of expression. But, in a free society that protects these basic liberties, a pluralism of views and values is likely to develop, such that people can seriously disagree about matters they hold dear. These may be religious like Christianity or philosophical like Kantianism or moral like utilitarian. Yet a variety of potentially conflicting comprehensive doctrines may be such that all are reasonable.
In such a case, social unity requires respect for and tolerance of other sets of beliefs. It would be unjust deliberately to suppress reasonable comprehensive doctrines merely because they are different from our own. Thus, for example, a Christian Kantian and an atheistic utilitarian, while sincerely disagreeing on many ethical principles, philosophical ideas, and religious beliefs, can unite in mutually accepting, for instance, the American Constitution as properly binding on all of us equally.
This agreement will enable them mutually to participate in social cooperation, the terms of which are fair and reciprocal and which can contribute to the reasonable good of the entire society. Near the end of his life, Rawls published The Law of Peoples , in which he tried to apply his theory of justice to international relations. Given that not all societies act justly and that societies have a right to defend themselves against aggressive violent force, there can be a right to go to war jus ad bellum.
It has been asserted by many that through the implementation of a policy to punish the vice and reward the virtue a just society can be established. Here again the problem is who will determine what is vice and what is virtue? There are no universal criteria to determine vice and virtue. It has been apprehended that tor the realisation of this it is essential that the state should convert itself into a police state. This is not appreciated by many.
So what remains is that though justice is a highly desirable concept, it is still the will-o-the wisp. Finally, we hold the view that not-with standing the fact that justice is a highly appreciated and covetable concept, and attempts are constantly being made to achieve justice, no society whatever may its stage of civilisation and development be, can claim that it has succeeded in establishing justice. It is not an easy task to present a brief exposition of the features of justice and in spite of this problem; we make an humble attempt to point out nature of justice.
Since the days of Aristotle it has been held that the most rudimentary feature of justice is equals will be treated equally and un-equals will be unequally treated. Between these two groups there shall exist proportion. Equals and un-equals should be grouped separately. It has been asserted that the un-equals and equals should not be grouped in the same bracket. If we do so we shall do in justice to both equals and un-equals.
Less qualified and less, eligible persons cannot claim same benefits with eligible and qualified persons. If this system prevails in any society justice can never be its feature. It is generally irrational to give due share to a person who is not eligible. The theory of rationality and theory of justice are closely linked with each other. In practice the rationality and justice cannot be exclusively differentiated. Though justice, according to Ernest Barker, is a social reality, its link with political science and to some extent philosophy cannot be denied.
Political scientists are however mainly concerned with justice because of the reason that realisation of justice is possible through the machinery of state and this happens to be of the subject of political scientists. We have pointed out in this section that differences are to be considered duly and actively while persons are brought under consideration for awarding privileges and opportunities. But the problem is on what counts differences are to be considered?
There are differences among men regarding race, sex, religion. But the differences on these counts are not to be thought and they are not relevant for granting civil and political rights. Some theorists have attempted to find out the relation between justice and equality. It has been claimed that for the sake of justice authority must make serious efforts to establish equality and when it will be possible justice comes to be a reality. But Norman Barry argues that the relationship between justice and equality is a hotly disputed matter.
The relationship between justices has been elaborately analysed by many and among them the prominent figure is Rawls. His main thesis of justice is primarily concerned with how equality and inequality can be elements of justice. Though there is a controversy between justice and equality it is undeniable that the relationship exists.
Equality and preferential treatment are not consistent. That is if some persons receive better treatment because of superiority in wealth and income or any other ground that violates the basic norm of equality. However, it is also against the basic norm of justice. So far as the distribution of opportunities and at the same time attainment of justice are concerned two criteria desert and need appear.
Norman Barry defines desert in this way. The actions of a man are not only different from the action of other men they require special treatment. That is actions are to be rewarded. If this is not done injustice will be done to the persons concerned. Thus desert will be a criterion of special treatment but this cannot violate the principle of equality.
We can easily find out a relationship between justice and desert and recognition of desert. Along with desert there is a criterion which is known as need. One can easily distinguish between desert and need. One is to be awarded for special activities or contributions. In absence of this there arises no question of awarding anybody. On the other hand, need-based governmental actions have no connection with actions.
Western Theories of Justice
The government adopts the policy of providing old age benefits or giving monetary help to weaker sections of the body politic or any other scheme. All these may be termed as welfare schemes. While the authority is going to award a person for his special activities, it must also be considered that the actions must make some positive contribution to the progress of the society.
More actions whatever may the nature of actions be do not call for reward or special treatment. Both desert and need as criteria of governmental action must be kept outside the area of politics and emotion. Impartiality must play the dominant role. Otherwise both these criteria will lose their importance. Definition, Nature and Classification.