In the pursuit of justice, we may augur to begin with defining right and wrong. Without these two, justice will be flawed and remain an incomplete call to action. Without playing with words, I would like to address the point at hand; inequality is the feeling which drives us to deliver justice. The freedom to deliver justice is an outcome of our intellect and drive. The outcome however, could be different based on causal effects. The ‘skin in the game’ is when one is willing to bear the burden of responsibility to act, and not offer just solutions.
The premature debate is what is to be considered as right and what can be categorized as wrong. In an earlier book titled Reasoning Our Choices, I have dealt with it to a considerable extent. More than what is right, people are more eager to define what appears right in the eyes of the addressed. Consider political correctness or PC; it is often not right, but like on a scale, adjudged to the contours of cultural biases to tilt towards partisan action which satisfies the values of reputation expected under such a predicament, and not necessarily an ethical one. So is the concept of wrong. Many rituals are culturally wrong in certain societies, and yet perfectly right in others. Without a sense of universality, rendering justice can simply be an act of formulating the outcome based on our biases without appearing biased.
To further the debate, is justice delivered by doing right, or not doing wrong? Both are separate issues in themselves and can lead to an entire chapter of accosting. Considering that cultural biases exist, if one avoids doing any wrong, would that be considered doing justice or maintaining a standpoint of neutrality? We can find many equal examples of doing the right thing and also being on the side of neutrality. Survival in itself is an outcome of doing right, else one would not survive! So, if one kills in the process of survival, under many laws across all lands, it is considered acceptable. As a matter of record, I’m yet to come across one nation which legally decries the right to harm anyone, including any animal yet, without any preconditions and covenants. Every situation, observed from multiple prisms will thus point the scales of justice to not only the act, but also how it is being viewed as an action. Guilt is a prism of self-observation, while criticism can be an observation by the self towards others, and of others towards the self. Often the act of not doing any wrong, like being an obedient taxpayer, does not serve justice directly but is a point towards doing right. But when we look at rebellion, it would not be the act, but the observer’s prism to understand the justification of the act and its pronouncement.
Justice cannot be left to be relished as a spectator, but involving oneself in furthering the ownership of our responsibility towards it. The principles of equality and freedom are often crowned as the pillars of justice, and not without reason. But it often conflicts in our reasoning, not because they are right or wrong, but that they are right or wrong from a particular point of perception. All forms of leadership become a spineless intellect without justice. Aristotle is remarked to have famously quoted, ‘equals should be treated equally, and unequals unequally’, delivering the definition of justice as a useful beginning towards the rationality of the value principles of ethics. As we progress, we shall be confronted, more often than once, in untangling the web of concepts which crowd out the pure concept and rationale of justice.
To add more to the dilemma of justice is the concept of ignorance. Can one be considered to be just if one commits unjustly due to ignorance? Or, does the responsibility to deliver justice, however painful it might be, be vested on the owner of the object that is found in violation of ethics? Should justice consider an act from the dimensions of age, race and gender, or should humandom as a race be subjected to a singularity of rationality in their responsibility towards just actions? Add to it the fallacies of means and ends; it is more important to be just in our means or does the ‘ends justify the means’?
Let me put in a slightly tricky situation; consider yourself to be the judge in a case where a school student has vandalized the school property in protest against low quality of hygiene in the school premises, leading to two students falling seriously ill, as found in the reports. It has also been found that the principal is a new one and a reformist, but owning to lack of grants, has not been able to address the hygiene issue but does have it listed as one of the actionable items in the order of prime importance. In the meantime, the two students who had fallen ill and been hospitalized, are in a critical stage of health. The student in question who vandalized the premises because the two students were his classmates along with local whispers, pushed the narrative that he was provoked by a group of teachers who do not like the new, reformist principal. The principal himself however is non-repentant as he believes that hygiene is also a personal issue and that the disaster could have been caused due to other food items consumed by the students who are currently ill, and not necessarily due to poor hygiene in the school premises itself, based on the level of criticality of their current health conditions. The law however calls for action for anyone found vandalizing the school property. How would you judge the protesting student and his vandalizing action? Or would you frame the Principal in this case to be guilty?
There are furthermore issues of justice, which we shall address but this can be because we do not want to partly not delve too deep too soon, and also because the depth is quite unknown to many, including yours truly. One may question the construct of justice, the cosmic philosophical application of justice and the need for justice to begin with. The extension of justice into other areas like leadership are probably known from a long time, but perhaps never explored to find its true potential and answers for a wiser world, if not a better one. Wise is not always better, just as nothing can be always good. It is thus pertinent to explore things from a singular point of view, and then extend it into other areas to find its application, as in analytic philosophy, rather than open a can of metaphysical worms.
As we proceed to uncover justice, we will also need to understand its meaning in greater depth; what justice is, and what it is not. Justice is the action of responsibility to promote practice of universally ethical principles by adhering to it as a code using the value principles of ethics, in my view. Anything else would be a partial injustice to virtue and ethical conduct, at times steeped in personal greed driven by biased application of the reasoning of value principles. As laws, they are the social constructs of ethics to drive a society or community away from randomized oblivion. This means that even with a set of laws which prevent a society from doing evil, it could still be wiped out; but the reasons will be better known if they happen within a historical timeframe of observed reality. Hence the need for social laws become important from a logical perspective, yet we seem to be more obsessed with individual laws. Is there some merit in it or are we leaving out something important? These are important aspects to ponder.
There is also the oft-mistaken approach of justice being the weapon to undo evil. Why this is a misnomer, according to me, can be explained by the laws of karmic philosophy. And here again the ill-advised understanding of ‘karma’ will need to be elucidated. Karma is not the outcome resulting from bad action or thought; karma is the reality that every action contains the duality of good and evil. To survive, we need to eat; and in eating, we need to kill, be it a plant or an animal. Thus, it is the manifestation of intent which defines the action as good or evil, if it can be ever explained in simple terms. Every species survives only by taking away for itself what could be someone else’s share or property. This is cosmic realism, if observed from the purity of the act as a means to survival or a mathematical flow of course for beings. Stealing to survive is now considered acceptable, as survival is considered to be of highest importance, specially when it comes to the human species. In the process, the undeserving at times survive just because the objective has been morally indoctrinated as good and not greed. From this point onwards, every one thus becomes evil, as they have a right to harm any being, other than a human to meet the ends of survival. Or do they?
Justice cannot thus be limited to the feeling of good over evil. In delivering the good also, one destroys many objects that may have not been keen to participate in the deliverance of justice but unable to voice themselves well enough. A plant has no way to refuse its willingness to participate in our gastronomical obsessions, nor in a war does a soldier deserve to die because they are from the enemy camp, irrespective of the level of evilness in their intentions, when observed from the rationality of survival of beings. (The assumption of evilness is in itself a bias, as the enemy soldier considers it being dutiful through serving as a soldier of a localised good for the local people and which is being propagated within their territory). Justice has to be something more emergent and meaningful; an idea that is beyond the constructs of good vs. evil or the notion of being ‘holier than thou’.
Like other social constructs, good and evil are parts of the whole and it is our belief systems which define them based on social principles as constructs. When one is born without the knowledge of the purpose of birth, then the randomness of life cannot be presupposed to have been cultivated and known to the bearer of the act. Who decides which action is just? It can be the laws of society, which can be found in violation within a few thousands of kilometres of random outreach as a standard practice or based on differing beliefs. It also can then be presupposed that no one is in power to define or judge someone else, as we are unaware of the purpose of our own birth! But without the metrics of social laws, society could collapse as we often are taught during our childhood about fallen devils. The animaldom survives without any such written and explicit or implicitly illustrated system of justice and thus the thought will have to escape the falsehood of our social construct.
The demands of justice to define right and wrong can be somewhat warped, depending on the principle and scale we utilise to define right and wrong rather than in accurately universal terms first. Crimes towards humanity are subjected to social constructs of laws and can be found administering the act of justice based on what a certain individual or set of individuals, defined by the power inherited by them based on cosmic principles, define and set as law for the society at large the commandments of right and wrong. This at the outset also does not sound like justice but an infliction of demands on the defaulter if it does not meet the localised principles of justice based on personal feelings and opinion. The class of society you are born into is a great determiner of your command over wealth and power in your adult years. The creators of such systems might proudly claim that they have the best interests of the entire society but the society is an amalgamation of good and evil and evil is just an opposite way of delivering the very justice, leaving interpretation of what is just to a handful of the good elite. Furthering the cause, the nation state hence demanding adherence to even the Constitution as a demand and justified by those in power is a demand to adherence to a biased interpretation in the first place. Technically speaking, this might be legally blasphemous, but the concept of lawmakers and law enforcement is not justice but law. And law and justice are two different words in the first place.
Law is the enforcement of sanctioned justice practices in a society and these maybe helpful and harmful, depending on the sanction of the individual right by the nation. To however reach a definition, we might have to agree that laws are more individualistic, while justice is a demand for group behavior, as its application and subjects are more universal than individual. Laws are codes for controlling individuals to adhere to the societal value principles of ethics as seen just by the society in question with the intention of maintaining the cosmic flow of reality. The question however we need to return back to, is the construct of right and wrong as the basics. And we seem to be heading nowhere as we struggle to find right and wrong definitions based on cultural and social constructs and normative requirements, which over time, requires finer tuning to be in sync with the fluidity of the underlying subjects. Be that may, we should still be able to do some justice to it. And thus, this is where we begin to ruminate.
I’m looking for a publisher as I’m interested in writing my next book based on justice as a philosophy for attaining world peace. You can reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org to further the discussion.