# What is Justice?

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Posted (edited)

Since we seem unable to define torture, perhaps we should start at a more fundamental level.

Let's start by imagining we're all fundamentally good people (even the sociapath) and it's our life experience (psychology) that steers us away from being good; is that our fault?

Does it deserve punishment? All you can do to another is deprive them of something but in doing so, you damage yourself; to condemn other's only condemns our soul.

I'm reminded of The pearl

Edited by dimreepr

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1 hour ago, dimreepr said:

Since we seem unable to define torture, perhaps we should start at a more fundamental level.

If nobody here can agree to definitions of "torture" that have already been enshrined in national and international legal codes, you're not likely to have better luck on a definition of "justice".

1 hour ago, dimreepr said:

Let's start by imagining we're all fundamentally good people

Is there a consensus on the meaning of "good"?

1 hour ago, dimreepr said:

and it's our life experience (psychology) that steers us away from being good; is that our fault?

From a practical standpoint, that doesn't really matter. The society that drove you to madness or crime still wants you to conform to its norms.  Moreover, it will only admit to demanding that you obey its rules; it will never admit to making unreasonable or impossible rules, nor to creating a crazy developmental environment for its children, nor to driving a significant portion of its members to abarrent behaviour. So, if it acknowledges that some antisocial act is the result of mental illness, it will narrow the causes of that illness to some local, particular situation and treat the individual thus acting out as an exception. It will never treat an entire class of mental illness, no matter the number of individuals exhibiting it, as a symptom of its dysfunction.  Every society would much rather - vigorously and forcefully - insist that whatever you've done, whatever you've become, it's your fault.

1 hour ago, dimreepr said:

Does it deserve punishment?

On that point, societies differ. Some call it Correction; some call it Rehabilitation; some call it Re-education. How it's actually carried out doesn't always bear a direct relation to its label. I think most Americans have an image in their mind of how a prison should work  (counselling, job training, education, behaviour modification through peer support and self-esteem....) while at the same time, secretly or not so secretly relishing the movie image of prisons (bullying, privation, humiliation and violent assault, both plain and sexual, by inmates and guards....)

1 hour ago, dimreepr said:

All you can do to another is deprive them of something but in doing so, you damage yourself; to condemn other's only condemns our soul.

I truly do not believe any modern legal system will take that philosophical tack. A tribal one might - indeed, would be forced to, since in a small group, every individual is a precious resource, and social cohesion is literally a matter of collective life and death. But in a society of millions or hundreds of millions, individuals are mere grains of sand - that had better not get into the economic gear-box!

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Just now, Peterkin said:

Is there a consensus on the meaning of "good"?

For me, it's what we're born with (no one is born a bully/racist); original sin is just an expression of a potential bad life...

3 minutes ago, Peterkin said:

I truly do not believe any modern legal system will take that philosophical tack. A tribal one might - indeed, would be forced to, since in a small group, every individual is a precious resource, and social cohesion is literally a matter of collective life and death. But in a society of millions or hundreds of millions, individuals are mere grains of sand - that had better not get into the economic gear-box!

A grain of sand is just part of the beach.

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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

A grain of sand is just part of the beach.

On the beach, nobody cares about it. In a sandcastle, it's expected to keep still and hold its place. In a gear-box, it's destructive and must be flushed out.

9 minutes ago, dimreepr said:
21 minutes ago, Peterkin said:

Is there a consensus on the meaning of "good"?

For me, it's what we're born with (no one is born a bully/racist); original sin is just an expression of a potential bad life...

Your personal take is not a consensus. However, I do agree with you that every healthy infant is potentially a fine, upstanding, productive citizen - as well as a potential criminal, maniac or screw-up. But in all that potential, there are already present some inherited traits, tendencies, advantages and disadvantages, capabilities and temperament. If a child is raised with close attention to his particular nature - encouraging the positive aspects of his personality while correcting and teaching him to control the negative (feeding the good wolf), he should be able to reach his best potential, both personally and socially. But if they're treated like mass-produced items, some children will be damaged beyond repair.

Original sin is a concept that arises from the recognition of human autonomy: we can choose to disobey - which is a very bad thing to do in a rigid patriarchy.

Edited by Peterkin
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16 minutes ago, Peterkin said:

On that point, societies differ. Some call it Correction; some call it Rehabilitation; some call it Re-education. How it's actually carried out doesn't always bear a direct relation to its label. I think most Americans have an image in their mind of how a prison should work  (counselling, job training, education, behaviour modification through peer support and self-esteem....) while at the same time, secretly or not so secretly relishing the movie image of prisons (bullying, privation, humiliation and violent assault, both plain and sexual, by inmates and guards....)

Culture has a part to play, but what drives that?

That a movie can motivate the impoverished to seek revenge, shows the problem with that society...

7 minutes ago, Peterkin said:

we can choose to disobey - which is a very bad thing to do in a rigid patriarchy.

That old chestnut, god gave us freewill; so any decision we make is our own...

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2 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

Culture has a part to play, but what drives that?

The values of the society - or, more accurately, the elite of the society. What's good for the Waltons is good for America. Of course, it gets a lot more complex, not to mention messy, over time, will people acting up, acting out, protesting, legislating, writing books, singing songs, shooting one another, telling one another what to wear, whom to love, what to desire....

6 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

That a movie can motivate the impoverished to seek revenge, shows the problem with that society..

No, it's the other way around. The movies reflect a popular mind-set, as well as a much more practical reality: it's way cheaper to punish than to reform a person; it's easier to "throw away the key" and discard 1% of the population than to creat a suitable place in society for them, simply because there are too many people already: that 1% mainly comes from the 20% that's been discounted and relegated to marginal citizenship.

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2 minutes ago, Peterkin said:

No, it's the other way around. The movies reflect a popular mind-set, as well as a much more practical reality: it's way cheaper to punish than to reform a person; it's easier to "throw away the key" and discard 1% of the population than to creat a suitable place in society for them, simply because there are too many people already: that 1% mainly comes from the 20% that's been discounted and relegated to marginal citizenship.

The movie's are designed to make money, pander to the popular mind-set; not question why 1% of the population, equates money over goodness and the rest of us just blindly accepted their explanation.

This is the philosophical forum...

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14 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

The movie's are designed to make money, pander to the popular mind-set; not question why 1% of the population, equates money over goodness and the rest of us just blindly accepted their explanation.

Not entirely! A great many movies do question the values, do challenge the status quo, do reveal a dark side of society that makes some of its members uncomfortable enough to educate themselves and take some corrective action. Popular entertainment can influence a society for its improvement as well as contribute to its vices.

Most people don't think about (let alone calculate with any accuracy) the cost of lawmaking, lawbreaking, law enforcement and their consequences, both short and long term. They hear on the news, once in a while, about $millions or$billions the government spends on something, but those numbers are meaningless. What they are acutely conscious of is the number at the bottom of their tax return form.  Some political candidate promises to reduce that number, through efficiency or private enterprise or whatever, they vote for him and get an even worse standard of crime control. But that same politician has a scapegoat all warmed up and pointed at the wilderness.

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11 minutes ago, Peterkin said:

Not entirely! A great many movies do question the values, do challenge the status quo, do reveal a dark side of society that makes some of its members uncomfortable enough to educate themselves and take some corrective action. Popular entertainment can influence a society for its improvement as well as contribute to its vices.

Most people don't think about (let alone calculate with any accuracy) the cost of lawmaking, lawbreaking, law enforcement and their consequences, both short and long term. They hear on the news, once in a while, about $millions or$billions the government spends on something, but those numbers are meaningless. What they are acutely conscious of is the number at the bottom of their tax return form.  Some political candidate promises to reduce that number, through efficiency or private enterprise or whatever, they vote for him and get an even worse standard of crime control. But that same politician has a scapegoat all warmed up and pointed at the wilderness.

So what is justice?

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Posted (edited)
3 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

So what is justice?

Damned if I know!

I'll give it some thought and try to offer a coherent idea after I get some work done around here.

Edited by Peterkin
typos, bloody typos
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It's hot outside! Can't work more than fifteen minutes before I become short of breath and see coloured spots synchronized swimming. It would be unfair to force a frail old person like me to dig a ditch in Savanna in August. Yet it was done, multiple times, in the name of justice. Such treatment or prisoners is, in fact, still very common.

A reasonably well socialized four-year-old has a basic sense of fairness. The notions of "human nature" that dominate in different societies varies by cultural philosophy, but there are some traits all humans (or at least the overwhelming majority) are born with, that are part of the social animal package, and a sense of fairness is one of them.

Quote

I put in the bracketed phrase. Now, if a four-year-old knows what's unfair, you'd think a prison warden with 30 years' experience rehabilitating criminals would have some idea. But, or course he does. And of course he knows most of what happens in his domain is unfair and unjust. Why does he allow it to continue? For lots and lots of reasons that are not remotely connected with concept of justice.

Maybe justice would be best served if we didn't allow anyone over the age of eight to serve on a jury, preside in a courtroom or run a correctional facility.

By the way, that Scientific American article is worth reading.

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You guys have it wrong.
Nobody is born 'good'.

We are all born with basic animal instincts. Instincts that we have evolved over millenia as a means of survival.
Dominate others, take what we need/want, and deprive others of their needs as they are the competition for survival/reproduction.
We see it all the time in 'lesser' animals; we pretend to be different ( Dim even thinks we have a 'soul' ).
In fact it is society, and social living, that requires the qualities which we have come to consider 'good'.
Do wolves share food with the ill, or injured, of their pack ?
Why do children have to be taught to share ?
There is no reason to discuss Dim's 'soul'; we are simply animals.

Societal living tries to impose these 'good' qualities on us so that we can better get along, and our whole society benefits.
But we have free will ( so Eise tells me ); what do we do with those who are anti-social and don't want to live by our collective 'good' rules ?
We cast them 'out' of socity so they can't harm our collective 'good',

The magnitude o their anti-social behaviour determines whether they are abolished from society forever ) life imprisonment or the death penalty, depending on culture ), or if there is a chance to re-integrate them into society, a temporary 'separation' where they can see the error of their anti-social behavior, and hopefully become contributing members of society again.

I'm not sure jails, as we currently have, are the best vehicle for that rehabilitation, and re-insertion, into society.
I would think an institution like the Armed Forces would be; they stress structure andpersonal responsibility, self-sacrifice for your group, and teach you a useful 'trade' which can help the transition back into society.
Current jails do none of that, on the contrary, they produce more of the animalistic survival behavior we are trying to eradicate.

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We are the only animal that hoards to many million times what is needed for survival.  Greed is what brought us to where we are, and greed will destroy society unless it is severely curbed.

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17 minutes ago, MigL said:

Do wolves share food with the ill, or injured, of their pack ?

Yes.

Quote

18 minutes ago, MigL said:

Why do children have to be taught to share ?

They don't. I've had as many wet toys shoved at my by human babies as by dogs. They figure it out in their peer-group, and become selective in their reciprocal sharing transactions as early as pre-school. Adult directed "sharing" generally focuses on persuading a child to sacrifice something he or she values, rather than sharing resources or inviting another to participate in an activity. Those are not at all the same social dynamic nor psychological motivation.

36 minutes ago, MigL said:

There is no reason to discuss Dim's 'soul'; we are simply animals.

Sure. If we can have souls, so can elephants and whales. I take Dimreepr's "soul" to mean that healthy self-respect social animals feel when they live up to their own and their community's standard of ethics.

33 minutes ago, ShaneK said:

We are the only animal that hoards to many million times what is needed for survival.

Other animals put by for hard times, if they can, and store food for winter. They also try to secure and defend sources preferred food for their own flock or troop. Humans, being imaginative, exaggerate every sensible idea into a destructive obsessions. Your grandmother had to live on carrot tops and potato peels in the Great depression? You must roll over all your rivals, acquaintances and friends to become a billionnaire so you can shake your tiny fist and holler "As Goad is my witness, I'll never be hungry again!"

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39 minutes ago, Peterkin said:
1 hour ago, MigL said:

Do wolves share food with the ill, or injured, of their pack ?

Yes.

Quote

And who gets first dibs on food and reproduction ?
"The job of maintaining order and cohesion falls largely to the alphas, also known as the breeding pair. Typically, there is only one breeding pair in a pack. They, especially the alpha female (the mother of the pack), are the glue keeping the pack together. The loss of a parent can have a devastating impact on social group cohesion. In small packs, human-caused mortality of the alpha female and/or the alpha male can cause the entire pack to dissolve."

42 minutes ago, Peterkin said:

They don't. I've had as many wet toys shoved at my by human babies as by dogs.

Don't have a dog; have a cat.
She is very 'needy', and probably lonely since I had to put down her sister.
She only brings 'toys', and seeks company, when she wants to play, not necessarily when I want to play.

I agree with you, there are species like wolves ( also dolphins elephants, etc ) who are somewhat social.
But when the wildebeest herd is being chased by the lion, the heard doesn't encircle and protect the young and infirm; they are 'sacrificed' to save the healthy.
Primal instincts are less pronounced/evident in some species than in others ( such as us ).

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Different species of social animals behave in different ways.

And this relates to human justice?

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Justice for all! particularly including justice for victims and criminal justice.

Justice, in its broadest sense, is the principle that people receive that which they deserve, with the interpretation of what then constitutes "deserving" being impacted upon by numerous fields, with many differing viewpoints and perspectives, including the concepts of moral correctness based on ethics, rationality, law, religion, equity and fairness.

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17 hours ago, MigL said:

You guys have it wrong.
Nobody is born 'good'.

Neither are they born 'bad', they are born with the potential to be either and then taught to be one or the other; add to this the potential of a bad teacher that leads to a more profound understanding of being good.

17 hours ago, MigL said:

There is no reason to discuss Dim's 'soul'; we are simply animals.

Why are you troubled by this word? I think all conscious animal's have a sense of self (I just use one word, instead of three).

17 hours ago, MigL said:

Societal living tries to impose these 'good' qualities on us so that we can better get along, and our whole society benefits.

By definition societal living requires cooperation, not imposition (is this a religious bias?), and that requires an innate sense of fairness (as demonstrated by a plethora of studies of various primate's and other animals (wolves et al).

17 hours ago, MigL said:

But we have free will ( so Eise tells me ); what do we do with those who are anti-social and don't want to live by our collective 'good' rules ?
We cast them 'out' of socity so they can't harm our collective 'good',

Free will doesn't mean we're automatically free to ignore bad influences/teaching, just because some can overcome their past doesn't equate to all being free to do so; some need further input/help.

So if we cast them out without the help they require, we doom ourselves to misunderstanding, and the potential of a profound understanding of what's possible; there's no greater advocate/teacher than an ex-smoker, on the harm of tobacco.

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On 8/9/2021 at 8:56 AM, dimreepr said:

Let's start by imagining we're all fundamentally good people (even the sociapath) and it's our life experience (psychology) that steers us away from being good; is that our fault?

Does it deserve punishment?

You seem to be talking about the legal system, and have assumed that the sole function of it is to punish people. Which is incorrect.

While not universally embraced, it also serves to separate people who are a danger to society, and also to rehabilitate people, and possibly other functions. So I submit that the premise that justice is solely associated with punishment is flawed.

If someone has transgressed the rules of society and can show they did not act of their own volition (owing to their life experience), the system should still separate them if they pose a danger to others, and rehabilitate them if possible.

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5 minutes ago, swansont said:

You seem to be talking about the legal system, and have assumed that the sole function of it is to punish people. Which is incorrect.

While not universally embraced, it also serves to separate people who are a danger to society, and also to rehabilitate people. So I submit that the premise that justice is solely associated with punishment is flawed.

If someone has transgressed the rules of society and can show they did not act of their own volition (owing to their life experience), the system should still separate them if they pose a danger to others, and rehabilitate them if possible.

I think the legal system, as was designed, is to separate the political need for punishment from the insidious need for revenge.

In war a sociopath is a much needed asset.

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13 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

I think the legal system, as was designed, is to separate the political need for punishment from the insidious need for revenge.

I'm sorry, is this relevant to my point? Did you, or did you not, make a 1:1 correlation between justice and punishment?

Whether or not we have substituted punishment for revenge, there are justice systems that rehabilitate and serve to separate people who are a danger to society.

13 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

In war a sociopath is a much needed asset.

We aren't talking about war, you already postulated that sociopaths are fundamentally good.

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Justice is the constant, permanent imparting to every one what they deserve.

My english could be better.  If you get the idea, improve the wording/phrase.

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Last I checked, that Justice woman is holding scales, signifying a 'weighing' of circumstances, and a sword, signifying some level of punishment for one's misdeeds.
Bad outcomes seem to be the esiest method to teach someone the error of their ways, but easiest isn't always best.
If we care about someone, like our kids, we try to teach them, and hope they don't actually have to experience that bad outcome, to learn.
A compassionate society tries to do the same with those who break the law; and calls it rehabilitation.

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3 hours ago, Externet said:

Justice is the constant, permanent imparting to every one what they deserve.

Where did it come from? How does it know what each one deserves? By what standard?

11 hours ago, swansont said:

I'm sorry, is this relevant to my point? Did you, or did you not, make a 1:1 correlation between justice and punishment?

I don't think he did, actually. At first he asked a legitimate philosophical question:

On 8/9/2021 at 8:56 AM, dimreepr said:

Let's start by imagining we're all fundamentally good people (even the sociapath) and it's our life experience (psychology) that steers us away from being good; is that our fault?

Does it deserve punishment?

Then he describes the requirements of society.

11 hours ago, dimreepr said:

I think the legal system, as was designed, is to separate the political need for punishment from the insidious need for revenge.

In neither case was he either defining justice nor equating it with punishment.

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, Peterkin said:

Where did it come from? How does it know what each one deserves? By what standard?

Generally speaking, the standard in civilised countries, I cannot but agree with Externet and basically what I said before...

On 8/10/2021 at 10:13 AM, beecee said:

Justice for all! particularly including justice for victims and criminal justice.

Justice, in its broadest sense, is the principle that people receive that which they deserve, with the interpretation of what then constitutes "deserving" being impacted upon by numerous fields, with many differing viewpoints and perspectives, including the concepts of moral correctness based on ethics, rationality, law, religion, equity and fairness.

How does it know and which one deserves you ask? As per the scientific method, and the justice woman holding the scales...weight of evidence.

And while there are injustices from time to time, it is still the best available. But hey! I'm always open to any better system that sees justice for the vicitim as well as justice for the criminal/perpetrator.

Edited by beecee

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