• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Should Justice be the Supreme Virtue of Societies

Extracts from this document...


Should Justice be the Supreme Virtue of Societies? Social justice is distributive. It operates under the principle that each person must get his or her due. However, it is quite contentious as to precisely what each person's due is and thus opens the debate as to what justice is. Moreover, once a definition of justice is agreed upon (in a particular state), the question may be raised of how important it is. Is justice salient, or is there another concept that transcends its authority? Some argue that an aggregative concept would best suit a first principle (if indeed there were one). I would argue that justice is indeed salient, that without it there would be no such thing as civil society and therefore that it is the supreme virtue of society. Justice has long been heralded as key to the creation and maintenance of a society, yet why this is has been harder to pinpoint. Pascal argued in Pensees that "force without justice is tyranny." Underlying this contention is the idea that equality amongst all people is inherently good and should be sought after. This is because he assumes that tyranny is a bad thing and that in order for force to be used to good ends it needs to be justified. ...read more.


This is because a theory of justice should produce universal results, yet laws derived from different states' interpretation of justice are different. Therefore, the failure in Rawls' theory of justice lies in its applicability. As Miller argues in 'Principles of Social Justice', "Nowadays peoples shares of resources and their life prospects depend not only on domestic institutions within states but also on transnational economic and political forces." Why should principles of normative social justice be restricted to national societies and not extended to humanity as a whole? Yet whilst this practicality is an obvious flaw in Rawls' theory, I would argue that it is not enough to nullify it. This is simply because Rawls' theory could in practice be applied to the entire world if it were not made up of nation states. Furthermore, the world is increasingly moving towards governance through supranational institutions. These institutions have laid down universal rights (for all member countries) such as the United Nations' 'Declaration of Human Rights'. Whilst this is not quite the same as a just society where fair laws are made and moreover, where distribution is fair, it is a step in the right direction. ...read more.


A typical example of this principle in practice is the case of a healthy man that walks in to a hospital. Immediately it is seen that his organs could be used to save ten peoples lives. Under the Utilitarian principle the man would be slaughtered in order for his organs to be replaced and push aggregate utility higher. This does seem entirely bizarre yet when coupled with the idea of individual self interest, does not seem that far fetched in that the ten whose lives were saved will be ultimately more happy than they would have been otherwise. On the other hand, it does seem as if Utilitarianism would require a society of saints in order to be successful. This is the fundamental problem with Utilitarianism. It removes the idea of individual rights and replaces them with an appeal to the aggregate appeal to the good of society. Therefore, in concluding, it seems to me that justice is indeed the 'supreme virtue' of a society. Rawls' account of justice seems to portray the most accurate and plausible (in a world without nation states) description of a just society and it incorporates the idea of justice being the first principle of that society. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Machinery of Justice section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Machinery of Justice essays

  1. Balancing Competing Interests

    In contrast, Rewards may be attached to desirable behaviour to encourage the individual to set aside his own interests and act in the public interest. This is illustrated in the case of R v Craig where the judge ordered a reward of �500 to be given from public funds to

  2. I will look at different black theologies and different theories of justice, and attempt ...

    It would therefore seem as though Cone's black theology certainly had a Rawlsian understanding of justice. Rawls also goes further to talk about a maximin rule of game theory where one must choose the distribution pattern that favours the least well off.

  1. A critical evaluation of labelling theory.

    Labelling theorists claim that the behavior of the individual in question is only one factor when bestowing a criminal label on them. They also go so far as to claim that the criminal justice system could even create crime rather than preventing it.

  2. Free essay

    Law and Justice

    This led to undeserved suffering, as justice was not reached. Concrete justice also means there is no room to consider the motives or background to the offence and so injustice is easily reached. Another theory is that of John Rawls' and his idea is based around an imaginary society.

  1. Court Structure

    Indictable-only offence. Theses are serious crimes that must be tried in the Crown Court such as manslaughter, rape and treason. Defendants under 18 will generally be tried at a Youth Court but there are some exceptions. 3. Offences triable either way. These offences may be tried in either court.

  2. Penal Studies for Professional Practice

    such behaviours and hence means they are often too afraid to admit the truth, or to return home (Singh, 2004). Whilst men's offending is often attributed to factors considered beyond their control, women are subjected to the idea of 'responsibilisation', whereby they are responsible for their actions, thus their needs may be disregarded.

  1. Describe the different aims of sentencing.

    As the offender is working on local community project they are repaying there local residents as well as society as a whole for the harm caused by breaking the law. The Community Punishment Order is one of the most effective non-custodial sentences for preventing further offences; therefore it must act

  2. Law - Piercing the corporate veil

    of Cape sought to have the judgement obtained in USA enforced against Cape in England, they argued that the separate identities of the subsidiaries was merely a facade concealing the true facts. In giving its judgement, the court stated that: "save in cases which turn on the wording of particular

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work