Skip to main content

The Idea of Justice

(Reproduced from Hubpages)
The new year of the new decade has dawned in all its glory with delightful cold and somewhat shifty sun. The clouds of the gigantic corruption of past year and years does not seem to be getting dampened by the festive spirit of the X-mas followed by the New Year. The dirt seem to have risen so high that now it has reached the highest offices of Justice and I sit myself down with an attempt to understand what actually constitutes the noble and yet, elusive (and maybe, an impossible) idea called justice is. Is it something beyond revenge or is revenge good enough to be termed as Justice is the collective exercises it on behalf of the individual? Is justice something which pleases the most number in a society or can Justice in the extreme loneliness in the face of public opinion against its exercise?The fact is that the topic is so subjective and so skewed in the direction of numerical strength and it does not seem like justice any more. It is like, if a law, which is said to be formulated by large majority of people or those who rule them on their behalf, allows for a revenge, it is justice; when an individual does so, it is criminal. I am not for revenge in any way, as I do believe it is forgiveness which address both the concerned parties in the most positive manner, and we do not forgive the perpetrator of a wrong for his good, but for our own good, given the amount of tranquility it brings about to us.

Justice- The Definition with Current Perspective.

While seems to be that the efforts to tie it into a neat definition has been going on since probably the first time, a man stepped into other man's periphery and the idea of Ethics and what is proper started troubling men, the attempts could not get more accurate than too close. That could be more because to my mind, justice is a subjective term. However, let us try to explore how close we as humanity ever came close to define it, in concurrence to our individual wisdom. The online dictionary terms it as the quality of being Just, without getting engaged in the more difficult task of defining what is the meaning of "Just". Thesaurus defines it as revenge when undertaken by the collective, which is a definition which I have concern about, since it at the first look itself seems to unjust. Justice, Plato says in Republic, Book II is the type of good which is desirable on its own merits and also is advisable from the point of view of expected outcome. While Justice is one of the integral component of what constitutes ethics (which includes other features like courage, magnanimity and kindness), Ethics is both inward and outward looking, while justice is all the time outward looking defining fairness in one's interaction with the world around one.
Aristotle in his famous treatise on Ethics (Nicomachean Ethics - Book V)divides justice into two aspects based on the proactive or reactive nature of it asDistributive and rectificatory or corrective justice. The distributive one refers to the distribution of wealth among the members of the society (based on Geometric proportion), and the corrective justice (Based on Arithmetic proportion) refers to the resolution of inequitable distribution of the wealth. Further, Aristotle, so well looks further deeper into the matter and explains in a manner which is nothing short than a breeze of fresh air in an otherwise stale environment (what would you feel when you find all the top spokesmen of top political parties, for some reason, all lawyers, debating smugly on justice and hiding behind law will take its own course). Aristotle further stresses that in the event of inequitable distribution of the good, it is the distributer who is more culpable then the receiver. This is what I was arguing on when I objected to the media pursuing the beneficiary of wrongly placed and accepted bail plea, on the appropriateness of the same in Delhi, in an infamous murder case involving son of a noted politician (latter was helping the party in power in Delhi, to set up a government in the neighboring state), as the latter was the beneficiary, it was the Government of Delhi or its chief representative who should have been the one carrying the key culpability, as she had given inequitably, benefit to one person of the society as against anyone else.
It may be noted, it is equitable is the key word not the equal. The distributive justice does not require equal distribution, but equitable distribution, in a manner termed as geometric proportion , as per the merit. This law of geometric proportion takes out the air out of the claim of the government that they can not distribute the food grains rotting in government warehouses, shoddy as they may be; on the ground that then they will not know who they ought to distribute it to as it is not enough to be equally distributed to all. The government of the day, in the backdrop of news reports of food grains getting washed away in rains and people facing increasing food inflation, in its arrogance went on to even ask the highest court of the land to keep off the area of governance. The principle of geometric proportion also brings in a sense of reality and consolation to people what modern day philosopher Alaine De Botton terms as the pressures of presumed meritocracy on account of which people unnecessarily set themselves to the goals not in line with their abilities, when Aristotle says," If the persons are not equal they will not have equal shares.
We however would be wrong to presume that justice is defined by law, it is rather the other way round. When we find people against whom there is a great amount of evidence of unlawful conduct, moving around with immunity, constitutional or otherwise, in disgust the common citizen only complains of lack of justice. This is where justice is in contradiction to the law, and that is what Aristotle refers to when he says," whatever is unfair is lawless, but not everything lawless is unfair" .
Plato in Book V of Republic, explains that while Justice is helping the friends while harming the enemies and returning the debts one owes, constitutes justice, but not adequately. Socrates in the Book V defines Justice as "Working what one is naturally best suited for" (how many are able to do that???) and to do one's business and says that justice is what protects and nourishes virtues like Temperance, wisdom and courage. The society to be just needs to have rulers (The executive- cabinet and government) creating Just laws, Soldiers (The Judiciary) which ensures the implementation of those laws and Producers (The Citizens) who ought to be willing to follow those laws.
John Rawls Who wrote "The Theory of Justice" in 1970, counted Justice as one of the primary virtue of a social system, just as truth is for the system of thought. Building around the Aristotle's idea of Golden mean, John Rawls defines the concept of Justice as that of proper balance between competing claims. He says that a Just system sets the boundaries of the ambitions and aspirations of individual, with a presumption that "Interests requiring violation of justice holds no value."
John Stuart Mill'idea of Utilitarianism propounds an interesting view of the act which brings welfare to the largest average is just. The idea is however, suffers the same problem which I had expressed in my some other blogs as the problem of numerical superiority as a proof of justice (as can be seen from the way a government in majority, tanks through a numerically weak opposition even in the face of blatant unethical acts). The major issue with utilitarianism as proponent of justice is that it does not base the driver of justice and social laws on Socratic idea of Ethics but rather on Epicurean ideal of Pleasure as an end to itself. This in itself is not something to have worries about, the dilemma appears when we start thinking of my pleasure against yours, and then we try to decide whose pleasure will take precedence in the event of contradiction. Utilitarianism bases the precedence of idea on numerical strength, which makes a lonely man, a wretched soul and a lonely idea an orphan to social security. This principle builds on the idea proposed by Jeremy Bentham in the Principles of Morals and Legislation in 1780.
Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man- James Joyce- Book Review

Amazon Link 
Some books are an act of education; they cannot be read in haste, cannot be understood in one read. James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man gives one such feeling.
It is a coming of age story of Stephen Dedalus. Nothing extraordinary about that. But then there a rich, slowly flowing lost river of philosophy which moves beneath the surface, turning an ordinary story of a boy growing up, encountering questions about faith, religion and sex, into an exceptional, extraordinary and engaging story. The story moves along the timeline, much in the manner of Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, where the writer is seemingly a passive narrator. Further, while this book is more of a philosophical essay wrapped around a story, Ms. Woolf’s book, on the other hand, is rather a Story primarily, with a philosophical touch. This book is blatantly philosophical, dwelling into the dangerous territory of religion and how a growing mind looks at God. It begins with his school, whe…

Bahubali 2- The Conclusion- Movie Review

We are living in an extremely cause-heavy world where causes - real and imagined cloud our minds. I saw this in the case of the movie - Beauty and The Beast. There the quarrel of the social commentators was that it explored the gay angle of one of the characters only briefly, only fleetingly. There can be nothing more absurd than that. You are demanding more from an artist than possibly he can offer. Art is a profession of lonely persuasion, and it serves the purpose its creator desires it to serve. Nothing more and nothing less. It is sad and unfortunates that the liberals, which in Indian context largely translates to Leftists, insists that art is nothing but a vehicle that should be provided to them for their political agendas and narratives to ride on. It is like insisting that the reference to the Negroes in the "The Great Gatsby" should have been expanded to cover racism in detail. The brief episode was merely to substantiate the character and nothing more. Just as cre…

Resurrecting Hinduism- Without Embarrassment

I have been pondering about the sense of despondency, the sense of shame which has been imposed on the Hindu thoughts in Indian society. Every act of faith has to be explained, justified. When partition happened, Muslims fought and obtained an independent Nation, while the other large chunk of population, which, in spite of numerical supremacy, was subjugated for centuries, got India. In line with inherent openness and flexibility of Hinduism, India became a secular nation. This is a matter of pride, since it acknowledged the basic secular nature of Sanatan Dharm. However, as things would evolve, vested political interests considered India as unfinished agenda standing in the path of a religious empire being built world-wide. Through a well-calculated intellectual conspiracy of neglect and vilification, it came to a stage that modern Hindus where embarrassed of their religion and apologetic of their faith. This neglect also resulted in the religion being left to the guardianship of un…