Tuesday, August 2, 2016


The Species of Justice

"[Let us] hold firm to the Way of Heaven and always pursue Justice and Virtue, 
remembering the soul is immortal and can endure all kinds of good and evil. 
In this way, we will live dear to each other and to the gods, 
both during our mortal life here and after when we, 
like champions who receive their gifts, 
obtain our reward.

--Plato, Republic, final paragraph

"Justice" can have several meanings, depending on the context:

1. Commutative justice as a virtue, regarding interpersonal actions.
Defined as "the will to render to each individual their due".
This is explored at length by Aristotle.

2. Social justice as a virtue, more specific in meaning than common use.
Defined as "the will to work for the common good by working with others".

This use is distinct from the others, as it is not coercive.
Social justice instead works through free associations.
Social justice is therefore the form of Justice most like 'Caritas'.

3. Legal justice as a virtue, paired with Distributive.
Defined as "the will to obey what the State legitimately commands".

4. Distributive justice of the State, as paired with Legal.
Defined as "the duty of the State to give its citizens their due".

Distributive Justice can be broken down into rewards and punishments.
These two divisions can then be further distinguished by the means of determination:

  • Equal:  All are equally human, and should receive equal support.
  • Need:  Those most in need should receive the most support.
  • Merit:  Those most worthy should receive the most support.
  • Procedural:  All are equal before the law, and should receive equal penalty.
  • Corrective:  Those involved should receive what the crime shows they need.
    • Restorative:  (For the victim, compensation.)
    • Therapeutic:  (For the criminal, treatment.)
  • Retributive:  The punishment should fit the crime in severity.

5. Justice as Harmony in the political unit.
This use is the sum total of all four above.
This is explored at length by Plato.