a reply to: Dark Ghost
While I make no claims as to the nature of justice or what constitutes a “proper” society, it seems *your* account of “ethical justice”
provides useful answers to these most interesting questions.
[my replies below are indexed to your idea of "ethical justice"]
Your questions appear to stem from the general observation that using “legal justice” as a tool for implementing “ethical justice” often does
not succeed. What is the source of this failure?
“The sheer number of laws that now exist. if the vast majority of the population are not aware of the vast majority of laws that exist, why do these
numerous laws exist in the first place?”
Whether a specific law meets your standard of “ethical justice” is not a function of how many other laws there might be, nor is it a function of
the general prevalence of legal ignorance. If a law treats like cases alike and punishes in proportion to the offense, then it is ethically just
regardless of how many other laws there are and regardless of what the majority knows (or believes) about them.
“The fact that enough money can buy justice. It is no secret that the more money you possess and the the more power you maintain, the greater your
chance at being treated favourably by the justice system. Even if the evidence against you is irrefutable and in abundance, you can still pay off the
judge or jury if you name the right price or know the right people.”
Using money to achieve unlike treatment of like cases or punishment that is not proportional to an offense is not buying justice, it is buying
injustice. What you observe here is that personal advantage is often at odds with your account of ethical justice as fairness and proportionality.
“Justice is an abstract noun. Without a concrete basis from which to discuss, we can only allow for interpretation. This is a common problem with
concepts or ideas. Adjectives such as fair and righteous cannot be directly seen, felt or touched; only expressions of them can be experienced.”
Perhaps justice is an abstract idea. But, that need not prevent us from understanding it clearly. Many other abstractions permit of clarity in
understanding; numbers or principles of geometry, for example. Your description of ethical justice uses terms that seem quite clear; fairness (like
cases being treated alike) and proportionality (of punishment to offense). While there might some room for further elaboration, the idea you present
does not appear vague or ambiguous.
“Who gets to decide the what and how? Bestowing the honour of judging others on an individual or group is problematic because there is no guarantee
the party selected is/are just themselves. If he or she that administers justice is not just, how can a just outcome be assured?”
This doesn’t seem to indicate a problem with justice itself but rather a difficulty in implementing justice; even though laws are just, people in
public positions may be unjust. But, if we are able to recognize fairness and proportionality in a law, then we should be able to recognize these
same qualities in a person as well. How, then, do unjust people acquire positions requiring the administration of justice? Perhaps due to a failure
to adequately examine or interrogate prospective public officials prior to electing them (exacerbated by the rhetorical skills of those who seek such
Politicians are little more than professional popularity contest winners (which is to say that their principal interest is personal advantage, which,
as noted earlier, frequently does not tolerate fairness and proportionality). That politicians will act justly, therefore, may be an unreasonable
This is not to suggest that justice cannot be made manifest in a society, but it might require more appropriate vetting processes that those common
“Are there absolutes in justice? No two justice systems are exactly the same, just as no two individual conceptions of justice are the same either.
While they might have identical laws and regulations, the culture, social norms and societal principles which dictate the legal system of a certain
region cannot be duplicated elsewhere.”
The variation you identify appears to be one of means rather than ends. Fairness and proportionality remain the same even though the means of
achieving them may differ from one place to another.
“When separated from justice... Is justice enforceable by jurisdiction? Can those separated from society be expected to conform to the rules and
regulations of the justice system, or the moral constraints they are usually bound by?”
One would think that those who are separated from a society are neither subject to its jurisdiction nor able to detract from its just character. So,
why would a society have any interest in the conformity of those who are separated from it?