Essay on Social Philosophy
Number of words: 1015
Justice is simply the art of fairness, whereby equity prevails. In a societal setup, justice is a sensitive factor since it determines the sustainability of society. Many countries have unstable societies due to a lack of justice or availability of perceived justice. Philosophers have different views on the definition and actual meaning of justice. According to Plato, “justice is a supreme rightness, wherein all parts of a society are in perfect balance and aimed at the good” (Twisselman & Ramirez, nd). He emphasizes that justice is the most supreme of all virtues. His argument emanates from the fact that justice serves both parties, from the ruler to a fellow society member. Furthermore, the product of justice is happiness and harmony in a society. It is also worth noting that justice is relative; hence, each society defines its justice system.
Aristotle agrees with Plato’s point of view on justice matters. He argues that “justice is the only virtue that seems to be another person’s good because it is related to another; for it does what benefits another, either the ruler or the fellow member of the community” (Twisselman & Ramirez, nd). However, Aristotle explores the concept of justice by introducing unjust and unfair scenarios in society. Firstly, breach of fairness occurs in a situation where there is excess or deprivation. Excess occurs when there is too much for one party, while privation occurs when it is too little for one party.
However, it is worth noting that justice operates in an equity nature and not on equality. Equality is where each party receive equal opportunities and prevailing circumstances are ignored. In equity, every party has varying needs and requires varying assistance; hence, justice is dispatched depending on the level of requirements. Augustine’s view of justice is different from the other two philosophers. He argues that “justice must begin with a love of God that supersedes and subordinates our love for other things” (Twisselman & Ramirez, nd). Thus, he derives his definition from a Christian point of view. After analyzing the three philosophers, my point of view is that justice is an act of fairness and equity. Furthermore, justice is relative and must be customized to meet the societal set-up in an application.
In setting up my society, I would apply Rawl’s idea that justice is fairness. The idea of fairness ensures that members of society are free and equal. Rawl argues that justice resolves prevailing tensions by creating legitimacy in a society (Rawl, nd). The essence of legitimacy in a society is that it enhances moral acceptance. Therefore, a society centred around moral values with justice as the ultimate virtue is likely to turn out as a solid community. Furthermore, the political nature of a society relies on legitimacy. Rawl argues that the legitimacy of justice creates political order (Rawl, nd). Therefore, the society will have political order that is angered by justice and driven by legitimacy.
An ideal society is a society that relies on virtues to run. Therefore, the people must have the freedom to express themselves and receive equal treatment. As discussed earlier, justice is the supreme virtue and hence will determine an ideal society. “In Rawls’s egalitarian liberalism, citizens relate to each other as equals within a social order defined by reciprocity, instead of within the unjust status hierarchies familiar from today” (Rawl, nd). Justice creates the social status of the people. A just society will rarely have social inequalities, and thus the existence of social classes will be minimal. “Significant political and economic inequalities are often associated with inequalities of social status that encourage those of lower status to be viewed both by themselves and by others as inferior” (Rawl, nd). Therefore my society will be centred around justice and legitimacy, hence eliminating political and economic marginalization.
Although Rawl’s theory is essential in holding a society together, its assumption that justice is the supreme virtue makes it vulnerable to attacks from other theories. For example, one of the significant contrasting theories of Rawl’s justice theory is the Rousseau theory. “Rousseau believed modern man’s enslavement to his own needs was responsible for all sorts of societal ills, from exploitation and domination of others to poor self-esteem and depression” (SparkNotes, nd). On the other hand, Rawl argues that justice is the ultimate virtue that guards a society. However, Rousseau brings a different twist by introducing the behaviour and actions of an individual in a society. Thus, despite justice prevailing, an individual has the power to thwart society’s justice system through their actions.
In his theory, Rawl majors on societal liberation through various forms of freedom. However, Rousseau argues that Rawl view of liberty is negative and vague since it fails to bring out the sense of liberty as autonomy. He further emphasizes that so long as property and law exist, there can never be a just society (SparkNotes, nd). Furthermore, freedom can never be entirely successful in modern society but only exists in the state of mind of individuals. Therefore, freedom is a state of mind and not a societal virtue.
In conclusion, society must take into account both Rawl’s justice theory and the Rousseau theory. The two theories can complement each other when forming a society. However, the justice theory should be applied sparingly, keeping in mind that the Rousseau theory emphasizes that freedom only exists in a state of mind. Furthermore, there can never exist a perfectly just society; hence, it is best to merge the two theories to develop a near-perfect society.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778): Themes, arguments, and ideas | SparkNotes. (n.d.). SparkNotes: Today’s Most Popular Study Guides. https://www.sparknotes.com/philosophy/rousseau/themes/
Rawls, J., & Rawls, P. J. (2001). Justice as fairness: A restatement. Belknap Press.
TWISSELMANN, E., & Ramirez, F. (n.d.). WESTERN PHILOSOPHICAL CONCEPTIONS OF JUSTICE. https://media1.biola.edu/education2/downloads/western-philosophical-conceptions-justice.pdf