Thought Archive

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Is there absolute justice?

How are we to understand, without Divine guidance, a model of an absolute justice, a moral standpoint that is objective, does not evolve through time and independent and is agreed upon by all parties. In an absence of a moral conviction it is hard to do so , for we live in a world conscious of its uncertainty.

Wikipedia gives definition of Justice as “the ideal, morally correct state of things and persons” , and that "Justice is the first virtue of social institutions, as truth is of systems of thought."[1] But, according to many theories, justice has not been achieved: "We do not live in a just world."[2] But the number and variety of theories of justice suggest that it is not clear what justice and the reality of injustice demand of us, because it is not clear what justice is. We are in the difficult position of thinking that justice is vital, but of not being certain how to distinguish justice from injustice in our characters, our institutions, our actions, or the world as a whole.

In short my dilemma is such: if we assume two parties that have between them certain friction that leads to profound injustice inflicted on one of the two by the other. This injustice is a moral wrong (for instance killing). This leads to two potential scenarios. In first one the injured party, perceiving inability to exact any other punishment resorts to an act of violence to avenge the wrong. In second one, no action is taken and one has to rely on the outside help (government, friends, neighbours) whether its forthcoming or not. In the polite society, former case is strongly abhorred. We usually treat the meek and forgiving better than we do the vengeful, and so we think that the second action negated the first.

But the violent wrong was the same in those to cases, so what do we do? In effect it means that ethically speaking perception has changed and justice will be kinder to the one who is not a wrongdoer in the eyes of the judge. This is one of the many cases to demonstrate that humans can not and will never be able to define the concept of an absolute justice or ethics system that gives answer to questions like these.

Another concept which blurs ethics is moral luck. A drunk driver may safely reach home without injuring anyone, or he might accidentally kill a child who runs out into the street while he is driving home. How bad the action of driving while drunk is in that case depends on chance. So much for human justice…

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