Justice is a concept involving the fair, moral, and impartial treatment of all persons, especially in law. It is often seen as the continued effort to do what is "right." In most of all cases what one regards as "right" is determined by consulting the majority, employing logic, or referring to some ostensibly divine authority, in the case of religion. If a person lives under a certain set law in a certain country, justice is considered making the person follow the law and be punished if not.
Classically, justice was the ability to recognize one's debts and pay them. It was a virtue that encompassed an unwillingness to lie or steal. It was the basis for the code duello. In this view, justice is the opposite of the vice of venality.
In jurisprudence, justice is the obligation that the legal system has toward the individual citizen and the society as a whole.
Justice (in both senses) is part of the debate regarding moral relativism and moral objectivism: Is there an "objective standard" of justice, under which all behavior should be judged, or is it acceptable for justice to have different meanings in different societies? Some cultures, for instance, see punishments such as the death penalty as being appropriate, while others decry such acts as crimes against humanity.
In some cases, justice is not equated with laws. For instance, laws that once supported slavery are now considered unjust laws such as the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 in the United States. Also, many laws of illegitimate governments are considered unjust. Further, the social justice movement questions the morality of laws that protect property rights without adequate protection of the poor, especially those laws governing international trade.
Last updated: 10-23-2005 17:17:40