Is a universal standard of justice possible?

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Is a universal standard of justice possible?


      The recent assassination of bin Laden by the US SEALs has sparked off considerable controversy across the globe. The debate remains on whether the US assassination of bin Laden was an act of justice or injustice.1 Upon hearing his assassination and seeing the jubilation erupting across the streets of America on TV, I felt detached from the general consensus that his death was worth celebrating let alone being ecstatic about it. Furthermore, the fact that Obama carefully used his words and said “Justice has been done”2, leads me to question whether bin Laden’s assassination was an act of justice or Vengeance. If the latter is true, then wouldn’t his quote mean the same as “Vengeance has been done” ? As a result, it sparked off my thinking as to when is vengeance justified, or are all forms of vengeance unjustified? What should justice be, who it should serve, and most importantly, is a universal standard of justice possible? I believe a universal standard of justice is possible to a certain extent. My two main reasons are our intuitive sense of justice is “hard-wired” into our biology and the global trend towards increasing cosmopolitanism.


      Humanity is “hard-wired” with an intuitive sense of justice. Justice is an area of knowledge that involves the philosophical study of moral values and rules; this knowledge is acquired through our emotional feelings and reason. When emotion is used in conjunction with reason, it forms a seemingly in-born, intuitive ethical sense that aids moral judgment. In an experiment where monkeys were rewarded based on individual effort in a task3, social animals also seemed “hard-wired” with an intuitive sense of justice. When some monkeys were rewarded unequally for the same task, the unprivileged monkeys refused to co-operate any more, seemingly outraged at the experimenters for the lack of fairness, yet didn’t blame others for accepting better rewards. Many scientists believe this implies a huge degree of universality in our moral judgments and those of social animals despite cultural differences, because this proves that our ethical sense isn't a social construct but inherited biologically through evolution.4

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      The global trend towards increasing cosmopolitanism will eventually lead to a universal standard of justice. Cosmopolitanism is the ideology that all human ethnic groups belong to a single community based on a shared morality.5 Philosopher Peter Singer believes that with increasing cosmopolitanism a universal standard of justice will soon be possible. This is shown in his quote: “If we agree with the notion of a global community, then we must extend our concepts of justice, fairness, and equity beyond national borders by supporting measures to decrease global warming and to increase foreign aid. ...

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