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Relationship Between Law And Justice Essay

1351 words - 5 pages

Law and justice are often misconstrued as being one and the same thing. This however, is a fallacy and even though the two have symbiotic relationship, they cannot be considered as the same thing. A relationship does exist between law and justice and as they are not mutually exclusive and I will try and highlight this relationship in the following paragraphs.
In order to understand the nature of the relationship between law and justice, we first need to understand what both these terms mean in isolation. First, lets consider justice. Justice is often used interchangeably with “fairness”. While this relationship is true to an extent, justice is more of a social term, geared towards achieving fairness for the entire society. Fairness is a subjective term, where every individual’s concept of what is fair is different from one another. What one person may consider fair for them, may not be viewed by another as fair at all. Justice is a concept that looks to incorporate all these individual’s personal concepts of fairness and come to a solution that is suitable for all parties. A just society, according to Plato, is a society in which all its constituents are happy.(Kelson, 3) However, the subjective nature of justice makes the term very hard to adequately define. While what mentioned above may serve to illustrate the broader meaning of justice, in practice, what is considered justice for one party does not necessarily mean the same for another. For example, a starving person steals bread from a bakery to quench his hunger. The baker catches him and turns him over to the authorities. The authorities in turn punish the starving man for stealing. In this case, justice is served from the perspective of the baker. Justice is also served from the perspective of society, as a just man would not steal. However, for the starving man, taking one loaf of bread, which, had the baker not caught him, would not even have been missed, is not worthy of such punishment. His situation was dire and he only resorted to stealing in extenuating circumstances. In his opinion, justice might not have been served. In order to remove this ambiguity in the adjudication of justice, societies create guidelines that all members of society must follow.
A man is considered just if his behaviour conforms to the norms of society. However, norms are unwritten guidelines to societal conduct. Being unwritten, it is sometimes hard for a society to pass judgement over conflict. It is easy to plead ignorance when the rules are implicit and religious norms are hard to enforce in a diverse society. It was from out of this need to establish uniform guidelines of conduct that law was created. A law is “a rule of conduct or action prescribed or formally recognized as binding or enforced by a controlling authority (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). Laws are rules that are explicitly expressed in a society to serve as guidelines to what just behaviour is. A law is usually accompanied with a prescribed...

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