Sunday, July 10, 2016

Aristotle on Justice and the Ordering of Society

by Nomad

When you look at the classical statues depicting Justice, there is the familiar image of a woman, blindfolded. The truism is, of course, true justice is blind to the distinctions of class, race, gender, sexual orientation or religious affiliation. In an orderly society- whatever that is- justice should prevail regardless. Otherwise it is a kind of pseudo- justice, merely a illusion of justice. 

However, Justice is not only blind to the distinctions of groups but also to the distinctions of individuals. The embodiment of justice also carries a measuring scale to show that justice must be balanced between individuals. Prejudice is the destroyer of justice. The scale, a once-common device, uses a recognized standard on one side. The image therefore is about the equality, in other words, there must be a single standard for all citizens. 

It is critical- in the name of fairness- that laws must be applied universally. There can be no law for the poor that doesn't also apply to the most wealthy. There cannot be one law for Christians and another for any other religion, nor a law for believers and another for non-believers.
Without that underlying concept, the idea of justice, as noble and an enduring as it may be, simply becomes a means of public control by overlords who have no reason to fear prosecution or punishment for their crimes. 

There can be no true democracy without a basic and universal standard of justice for all citizens. A demand for fairness under the law may be universally desired but it is far from universally delivered. As soon as the justice system is corrupted, by whatever cause, democracy begins to fail.