Archive for Justice

What is Justice?

Posted in Philosophy with tags , on November 29, 2012 by taylorvincentroche

What is Justice? Undoubtedly a very important question but certainly not easily answered. In Plato’s Republic Thasymachus argues that justice is nothing other than the advantage of the stronger. The following discussion is very surface, mainly aimed at sparking discussion and thought on the subject. There is some of my own personal thought (though somewhat undeveloped) towards the end. I may write more on this in the future.

After Thasymschus says justice is nothing other than the advantage of the stronger he follows it with the example that each government whether democratic, tyrannical, or aristocracy each make laws similar to their respective forms. In other words the United States’ democratic government makes democratic laws. “And they declare what they have made- what is to their own advantage- to be just for their subjects, and they punish anyone who goes against this as lawless and unjust.” (Republic I 338e) Because the concept of justice is closely tied to the concept of law, it can be assumed that Thrasymachus affirms “law” as a thing tied to the subjective nature of whichever government a person might find him or herself in. Therefore if the law is simply those in power creating laws that reflect them because of their advantage, justice is as subjective and arbitrary as law.

Thrasymachus’ theory is particularly interesting because of the ties it might have to the Christian concept of government and justice such as Paul outlines in Romans 13. For my own opinion I’d like to borrow Aristotle’s distinction between Natural and Legal Justice. If we say that Thrasymachus is speaking only about Legal Justice, than I agree with him because I believe Earthly kingdoms are concerned with the protection of what is their own and often define justice generally as what they do. But being that I am a Christian I do believe there is a second half of Justice, namely the Natural side, and Thrasymachus’ theory cannot be applied here. Natural Justice could not be as subjective as Thrasymachus makes justice out to be in my opinion.