Defining Justice Essay

Individuals are different in terms of their opportunities, physical and mental capabilities, financial and social statuses, and by other criteria. At the same time, most people live in societies—therefore norms regulating interactions and behavior in societies were developed. Historically, these norms were often beneficial for the few privileged members of a society, while other people had to deal with mistreatment and violations. This is where the concept of justice comes in. Philosophers were looking for a form of rule, or for a social organization that would embrace and satisfy the interests of all members of a society. Some of these philosophers—such as Plato, for example—saw justice in public ownership of all goods produced within a community; others believed an access to goods should be provided in accordance to the contribution a person had made to social affairs. It may seem paradoxical, but even now the concept and the understanding of justice is debated.

According to Dictionary.com, justice is synonymous to such concepts as righteousness, lawfulness, and equality. As an ethical category, justice can be defined as a principle of fairness, according to which similar cases should be treated alike, and a punishment should be proportionate to the offense; the same refers to rewards for achievements. The Merriam-Webster Online dictionary defines justice as an impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments; the establishment or determination of rights according to the rules of law or equity. As a broader meaning, justice is defined as a conformity to the ideal of just or right doing.

Justice in its legal and ethical perspective can be defined as acting according to the ideal of fair-doing recognized in a particular society, and treating a person or his or her doings in accordance to this ideal and state laws. At the same time, justice, law, and norms are not equivalent; for example, a punishment for a crime judged fairly according to the existing laws does not necessarily look fair in the eyes of public, as it was in Anders Breivik’s case. Breivik, the Norwegian terrorist who killed 77 people in July, 2011, was sentenced to 21 years of imprisonment (The New York Times), which is unfairly unequal to the scale of the crime he committed.

Referring to justice in its socioeconomic aspect, it is rather difficult to provide an unequivocal definition, as most of them are closely connected to various political and economic doctrines. Simply put, justice can be defined as a way of allocating and distributing material and intangible benefits (such as education, employment opportunities, access to political life) in a society in a way that does not infringe or insult any individual.

Justice is a concept which can be understood in different ways, especially in its socioeconomic perspective. Also, justice can be defined as acting according to the ideal of fair-doing recognized in a particular society, and treating a person or their doings in accordance to this ideal and state laws. In its economical aspect, justice is a way of distributing material and intangible goods in a way that does not insult anyone. As you can see, justice is multifaceted.

References

Lewis, Mark, and Sarah Lyall. “Norway Mass Killer Gets the Maximum: 21 Years.” The New York Times. N.p., 24 Aug. 2012. Web. 12 July 2013. <http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/25/world/europe/anders-behring-breivik-murder-trial.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0>.

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The Definition Of Justice Essay

What is justice? Is it what it is fair? Or is it what is merely appropriate in a specific situation? This is a question that has been pondered for millennia; certainly what is clear is that justice is needed to keep the society stable and safe. Justice is like the equilibrium stage of a chemical equation. A little deviation can cause a dramatic reaction for better or worse. Justice is associated with many words, but the essence is always what is fair.

Justice, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is the administration of what is just by the law; it is the exercise of authority in the maintenance of right; it is the moral principle determining just conduct. The term justice is often used to describe the law. Justice is achieved through law; law is the delivery system of justice. In general, a just law can be proved constantly to ensure the rightfulness within the society. This is not to say that the law itself is just. Unjust laws happen, and people are entitled to disobey them. Those who obey the unjust law without questions are as guilty as those who create an unjust law. According to Henry David Thoreau, in his essay "Civil Disobedience," those people who obey the law without reason or conscience are no better than horses or dogs. They put themselves on the same level as dirt (Thoreau 139). Only their bodies are human; they do what is commanded with out thinking. People should understand what kind of law is inappropriate and what makes the law just or unjust. According to Martin Luther King Jr., in his "Letter from Birmingham Jail," a just law squares with the moral law or the law of God, uplifts the human personality, and is sameness made legal; an unjust law degrades the human personality; is just on the surface but unjust in the application; and is difference made legal (King 179). Laws can only be called just when they are applied to everyone. No privileges should be given to anyone.

Justice applied to everyone is fairness. According to John Rawls, in his essay "A theory of Justice," one often develops a social contract with prejudices and personal biases. Rawls suggests that one should imagine oneself to be placed behind a veil of ignorance. Behind this veil, one knows nothing of oneself. Without the knowledge of one's social rank, race, sex, and culture, one can make fair choices since everyone is in an equal state. This original condition provides the safest way to obtain the standards of justice in society. Each person has the same amount of rights, and the social and economic inequality is tolerated only if there are systems in place to compensate for the inequality. Rawls says "for example inequalities of wealth and authority, are just only if they result in compensating benefits for everyone, and in particular for the least advantaged members of society." (Rawls 202).

In determining whether an act is...

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