The Definition Of Justice Essay

1074 words - 4 pages

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 just or unjust, morality needs to be considered. A right conduct is more likely to be accepted by people. Thus, morality needs to...

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