The Essence of Justice

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Reply Wed 10 Jun, 2009 02:21 am

Formal Axiology has something to say about the concept "Justice" that may be helpful. What do you think: does the applications of the tools of the science of value, when applied to this concept elucidate the subject? Here I shall offer a value-dimensional analysis of this concept.

I shall define JUSTICE as meaning: "the restoration and maintenance of a balance."

There are at least four modes of justice, on a continuum from worst to best; this analysis says that justice is a matter of degree rather than just "black or white."

These dimensions are: Transposed Justice (fragmented value), which is Retribution or Retaliation, an "eye for an eye," which eventually "renders everybody blind."

Next, there is -- when the Systemic Value dimension is applied to "justice" -- Equality or Equal treatment under law. "Every one is entitled to his day in court," "All are equal in the eyes of the law."

[And Law itself can be analyzed by the axiological dimensions into (S):Statute Law, (E):Common Law, and (I):Moral Law, each one worth more than the last.]

And then there is Compensation or Equity: one doesn't trade an apple for an automobile, quid quo pro, a judge taking into consideration the circumstances of the perpetrator's life, etc. This is the result of Extrinsic Value being applied to "justice."

When Intrinsic Value is applied, we get: Rehabilitation or Reconciliation. An illustration of this form of justice may be what was the practice in some African tribe when a murderer's dispensation was that he had to enter into the extended family of his victim, and assume all the responsibilities of the one he is replacing, and in this way he paid his debt to the community. Many other cultural traditions offer us examples of rehabilitative justice.

Recently, in the Western World we find that the practice of "creative sentencing" on the part of some jurists often contributes to the rehabilitation of offenders.

This is a formal axiological analysis of Justice.

To summarize:

Transposed value (or confused and incoherent value) applied to "Justice" ==> vengeance, revenge, feuds, getting even, etc.

S: equality in the eyes of the law; every defendant is to have equal rights based on a constitution or charter.

E: quid quo pro

I: rehabilitation; creative mediation; law as a remedial and healing practice.

To learn more about the value dimensions, see this paper by Dr. Rem Edwards:,RV&Va.htm


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