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STS437 Theories of Justice
Justice Not Blind?
We are probably all familiar with the iconic symbol of justice in the Western world: the goddess with scales in one hand and a double-edged sword in the other. More importantly, she is often depicted as being blindfolded in order to show objectivity, so justice can be meted out fairly without fear or favor. This is the ideal concept of justice in the western tradition...fairness through impartiality. The fact that all of us probably instinctively conceive the notion of justice as being impartial and defending the universal ethics of civil society is the very point of today's reading. Iris Marion Young, especially, challenges us to reexamine the ideals of impartiality and universality in reference to issues of societal justice. Karen Lebacq uses a Biblical lens through which to examine the concept of societal justice itself. In her book Six Theories of Justice, Lebacq states: “From the covenant tradition we understand God to be God of justice. Justice in Scripture has several nuances. Most fundamentally, it means a sense of 'what is right is right' – including both sedaquah (righteousness) and mishpat (right judgement and concrete acts of justice). However, there is a distinctive aspect of the Biblical presentation of justice: the justice of a community is measured by its treatment of the powerless in society.” (p. 74). This then is the debate tasked to us by our authors Lebacq and Young: is true justice truly impartial? If impartiality is the goal, is it truly attainable? And, finally, do the presumed virtues of impartiality and universality truly render justice for the powerless in society or do they lead to the necessary exclusion of human particularity. Please indulge me for a moment, and let's step back from the academic reading at hand and just look at some scenarios with which most of us can relate. Over the past few months in Wisconsin, the role of public unions has been...
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