Plato Concept of Justice

Topics: Justice, Natural law, John Rawls Pages: 19 (7301 words) Published: April 11, 2013
© Kamla-Raj 2011

J Soc Sci, 29(2): 183-192 (2011)

The Nature of Justice
Uwaezuoke Precious Obioha Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts, Olabisi Onabanjo University, P.M.B. 2002, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, Nigeria Telephone: +234-803-3950-443, E-mail: KEYWORDS Rights. Distributive. Equality. Fairness. Difference Principle. Commutative ABSTRACT Since the Renaissance period in history initiated the act of free thinking and independent thought, there have existed and still exist various notions and perspectives over every single subject of human discourse. The concept of justice is a good example. There are shades of opinion and views concerning the nature of justice. Consequent upon this, human relationships and co-existence have become precarious as a result of wrong or inadequate conceptions of justice. This is particularly true, I believe, because justice is a basic imperative for good human relationships and co-habitation. In this paper therefore, I have tried to analyze the various conceptions of justice and the implications of such conceptions to human quest for peaceful co-existence and the full realization of human potentials. At the end I argue that justice as fairness, better than every other conception of justice, provides answers to man’s quest for a global social order requisite for human flourishing any time and any day.

INTRODUCTION The need and the quest for justice in the micro and macro societies and by extension the global world is increasingly becoming inevitable in the wake of all kinds of violence and orchestrated social disorder and break down of law that characterize our world today. Justice cuts across and assumes a high degree of importance in every sphere of human endeavor such that it is a recurrent concept, an ideal in ethics, jurisprudence, governance and every other form of human undertaking that involve human relationships, management and administration. At the intrapersonal and interpersonal levels, it is a cardinal virtue such that with it global peace is guaranteed and without it our world will remain a place of horror and discomfort. As a result of this, the concept of Justice has become real and very topical in contemporary societies. Verily, we do have an insight into the reality of justice whenever somebody cheats us or our group is marginalized in the share and distribution of national resources and properties. However, the concept of justice cuts across national boundaries and assumes a very important place in international politics, that is, politics between and among states. There is something anthropologically and ontologically common to man and objects, creatures and phenomena of the universe. This commonness lies in the fact that all are parts that make up the universe whose origin is a mystery which man is one. The ‘life’ of one part may not

be known by the other, yet each part obeys the rhythm of nature who has judiciously assigned the respective parts their respective purposes, agenda, mission and reasons for existence. The universe’s natural order is never an accident or a coincidence. It is not only teleological, but also a milieu of commitments and avoidances. Each object of nature (both animate and inanimate) desires to herself a breathing place in the natural space, herself being natural too, to fulfill her innate or natural callings, to avoid threats from other objects of nature and exercise the freedom necessary for her existence. Against this background, the history of justice is as old as the history of man. This follows, therefore, that justice is natural to man. Man has never bothered himself with what justice means since it is a natural law. Instead the problematic of natural justice has bordered on its hermeneutics. It borders on justice calculus – what natural justice is and what it is not (Dukor 2003). Although justice has taken the coloration of cultures, philosophies, individuals and schools of thought, still the bottom line of...

References: Adeigbo FA 1994. Readings in Social and Political Philosophy. Vol 2. Ibadan: Claverianum Press. Aluko BA 2000. Philosophy, culture and the quest for social order in Africa. In: Kolawole Owolabi (Ed.): Issues and Problems in Philosophy. Ibadan: GROVACS Network, pp. 44-68 Aquinas Thomas 1981. Summa Theologiae. Maryland: Christian Classics. Aristotle 1976 Ethics. Trans. by JAK Thomson. England: Penguin Books Ltd. Bhandari DR Plato’s Concept of Justice, An Analysis. From (Retrieved February 12, 2010). Coplestone Frederick 1964. A History of Philosophy. Volume V, Part II. New York: Image Books. Dukor Maduabuchi 2003. Justice and the principle of necessity. In: Maduabuchi Dukor (Ed.): Philosophy and Politics: Discourse on Values, Politics and Power in Africa. Lagos: Malthouse Press, pp. 41-52. Gorr Michael 1983. Rawls on natural inequality. The Philosophical Quarterly, 33: 1-26 Hilliard Asa 1987. The Teachings of Ptah Hotep. Egypt: Blackwood Press. Hobbes Thomas 1980. The Study of Human Nature. New York: Oxford University Press. Kant Immanuel 1959. Foundations of the Metaphysics of
nity, right and freedom. Justice as fairness in doing what one is naturally assigned to do; staying in one’s duty post without undue interference and meddlesomeness. Justice as fairness in bridging the gap and the gulf between the toopowerful nations and the weak nations; justice as fairness in closing the intimidating gap between the wealthy, the very wealthy nations of the world and the poor and very poor nations, is the answer for social order. When people are denied their due, the natural thing is to seek redress. When the redress is not achieved through dialogue and other peaceful means, they resort to violence which characterizes social disorder. The activities of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta of Nigeria seem a good case in point. When the most powerful nations threaten and intimidate the weak ones for no just cause just to showcase their naked powers and technology, just to show the weak nations that they (the too-powerful nations) are more powerful than them and therefore should be “feared and worshiped”, the result is for the weak to device means to free themselves over time, after all nobody is a monopoly of strength and violence. Hobbes (1980) puts it more succinctly in the state of nature when he said: Nature hath made men so equal, in the faculties of the body, and mind; as that though there be found one man sometimes manifestly stronger in body, or quicker mind than another; yet when all is reckoned together, the difference between man, and man, is not so considerable, as that one man can there upon claim to himself any benefit to which another may not pretend as well as he for as to the strength of body, the weakest has strength enough to kill the strongest, either by secret machination, or by confederacy with other, that are in the same danger with himself. More so, when people experience undue interference in their territorial domain or even in their sovereignty as a state; and undue interference in their state policies and chosen way of governance by another state or power, experience has shown that more often than not such activities have generated conflicts of interest which if not properly managed can and have led to various forms of social disorder. However, we do not claim to have exhausted all there is in the nature of justice for the peaceful coexistence of humanity and the furtherance of human happiness. Be that as it may,
Morals. Translated by Lewis White Beck. Indianapolis: Bobbs Merrill. Kordig R 1981. A Theory of Rights. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 62: 171-192. Macquarrie John 1967. Justice. In: John Macquarrie (Ed.): A Dictionary of Ethics. London: S.C.M Press, pp.183188. Nozick Robert 1983. Distributive Justice. In: Michael Bayles, Kenneth Henley (Eds.): Right Conduct: Theories and Applications. New York: Random House, pp. 49-57. Ogunmodede Francis 2005. What is justice. In: Pantaleon Iroegbu (Ed.): Kpim of Morality, Ethics: General, Special and Professional. Ibadan: Heinemann Educational Books, pp. 401-415. Plato 1974 The Republic. Translated by Desmond Lee. England: Penguin Books Ltd.
UWAEZUOKE PRECIOUS OBIOHA Rearden Myles 1987. Law and Justice. In: Myles Reardden (Ed.): Society and the Rule of Law. Lagos: Heinemann Press, pp. 112-114. Russell Bertrand 1979. The History of Western Philosophy. London: George Allen and Unwin. Spinoza B. 1951. A Theologico-political Treatise. New York: Penguin Books. Stumph Enoch 1964. Philosophy: History and Problems. New York: McGraw-Hill Inc. Rawls John 1971. A Theory of Justice. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University. Uyl D, Rasmnssen N 1998. Understanding Justice. New York: Random House. Younkins Edward 2000. Justice in a Free Society. From (Retrieved June 20, 2009).
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