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What Is Justice?

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By jackirich24
Words 3769
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Personal Views on Justice and Ethics
What influences the decisions we make? What foundation do we set to govern our choices? These questions surface when looking at the impact personal views have on the decisions made in our society. Many people find that their personal views are formed at an early age and shaped by environment. Views of justice and injustice are individualized across the human population, however there is usually a common, shared idea of justice at a community setting. For example, cultural groups may share a common view towards criminal punishment. It is through these shared ideas that our personal views start to develop with a base. It then becomes a personal journey to expand on this base and to form individualized and critical views on what is believed to be justice, injustice, right, or wrong. My views have been shaped mainly on environmental aspects, which include: family, upbringing, social class, religious affiliation, education, social norms of my generation, and taking bits and pieces of other views from those who I respect.
As with many others, my personal views of justice started to develop at an early age with my family and environment. Family plays such a vital role in forming an individual in numerous aspects, especially from a psychological point of view. In fact, psychologist Erik Erikson formulated his psychosocial theory and stages on the conflicts a person experiences in his or her environment and its influences on human development. Keeping this in mind, it is easy to look back to see how my environment affected my views of what is considered right and wrong.
My parents taught the importance of acting as a role model and setting a good example, especially to my two younger brothers. This importance set by my parents played such an fundamental role in my current beliefs that it is imprinted in almost all aspects of my life, especially in my actions, decisions, and spoken words. Between the two concepts of knowing family is most important and consistently doing what is “right,” I learned the pivotal role I play in setting an example for my younger brothers to follow a righteous path. Being aware of this, I was raised with the expectation of teaching morals and behaviors to my siblings.
When I was child, my parents were adamant about teaching me how to live by the “golden rule” and follow rules. Their views were then reinforced in school. Although I rarely got into trouble in class, the teachers played a key factor in my early development of right and wrong. Like many preschoolers, I always admired my elementary school teachers and listened to their every word spoken as if it was the almighty truth. My teachers implemented a kind of reward/punishment system, in which they would reinforce good and prevent bad behavior. It provided the dynamics for me to recognize the associations between behaviors and results. I learned to practice what would earn me praise and avoid disapproval, despite being young and not necessarily understanding the views behind right and wrong yet.
Prekindergarten and elementary school teachers preached moral behaviors, such as: treat others fairly, be honest, act with respect, take responsibility of personal actions, and do not falsely blame others. Although these seem elementary, it is surprising to see many adults who do not always practice these basic concepts. Those simple rules taught me at an early age how to act and provided a platform to identify right and wrong.
As I grew older, my beliefs on justice and injustice started to take form and develop. One of the first events that became a backbone to my idea of injustice was when I began learning more about the Holocaust. Learning about the mass murder and hatred during this time heightened my views, especially since I am a Jew of Eastern European ancestry. My views continued to develop throughout my teenage years as I began to question social norms and authority. Different components of society, such as social issues and politics, led me to question and define a personal idea of justice and injustice.
One of the social issues I have addresses with my ideas of justice and injustice is the death penalty. I decided my support is against capital punishment. The death penalty is not a justifiable way of judicial punishment, and we do not have any right to be taking human life. First, I must ask what is the point of capital punishment? What does putting a criminal to death achieve that an alternative sentence does not? We are not living in a prehistoric time where the only means to fully guarantee a criminal will not commit another crime is to kill him or her. In fact, our government invests billions of dollars into the prison system. There is no reason to kill a convicted criminal, especially when there are alterative punishment options, such as a life without parole sentence. Both a death sentence and life sentence accomplish the same goals of insuring the convict will never be released into society and serves punishment for criminal offenses. These two goals are most important to our society and judicial system. When the judicial system convicts a criminal, there is consideration behind deciding what type of sentence. There are thoughts of what punishment would be equal to the debt the criminal owes to society and the possibility of any rehabilitation. If the judicial system decides the debt is beyond a typical prison sentence due to the nature of the crime and there is no chance of rehabilitation, the death penalty is sometimes decided upon. However, a life sentence could be substituted in the instance for the death sentence and accomplish the same intentions. Why not utilize life sentences instead of death sentences, especially when they have the same results? If the argument is that the death penalty is a more extreme punishment than life without parole, there are still different prison options to create a prison sentence that is more suited for terrible crimes. Personally, I rather be put to death than serve a life sentence in solitary confinement. The differences in the justification behind capital punishment compared to a life sentence remain unclear to me. We cannot call ourselves a justice-based society if we are acting with such injustice. There is no justice in killing criminals as punishment for killing others.
Another issue to examine is gay rights and how our society is dealing with this injustice of unequal rights. The issue of gay rights should not exist in our society, but it sadly does. It is wrong for the states to deny marriage to a same sex couple based off homosexuality, especially when any straight couple can marry and then divorce right after. It is not right for the government to set restrictions on marriage. Denying gay marriage is discriminatory at the core. I believe this is not just discrimination against sexual orientation but also sex and gender. It is against the law to discriminate against gender in every other component of our society, and marriage should not be excluded. For example, it is illegal to not hire a woman solely because she is female. It is also illegal to fire an employee based of his or her sexual orientation. Schools cannot separate classrooms based on sex, and they are held responsible for creating an environment free of bullying or prejudices. If discrimination is banned in the workplace and other areas of society, it should not exist in state law.
Discriminating against homosexual couples is a violation of their civil rights. Marriage should be open to any two individuals, regardless of sexual orientation. The main arguments of those against same sex marriage often come from a religious background. Many claim same sex marriage is an abolishment to God and a violation to natural law. Religion-based arguments are being utilized for justification against gay marriage, which is a clear example of injustice. Religion should be used as a means of governing only for religious organizations, such as a church or religious youth group, not for civil rights or political issues. Our nation believes in a separation of church and state, and we cannot listen to such types of arguments against civil liberty. There are other arguments presented against gay rights, but I have yet to find any with justifiable backing. In terms of justice and injustice, and with religious beliefs aside, it is unjust to deny gays any rights, including marriage. Government is drawing an imaginary line representing differences between homosexuals and heterosexuals. There is no justice in being responsible for creating the discrimination in law based off sexual orientation. A gay male pays taxes just as a heterosexual male; he can be punished for a crime just as a heterosexual can; he has the same genetic make up as a heterosexual; he can vote just as a heterosexual can; and he can fall in love with his partner just as a heterosexual can. There is no just reason to deny gays of any rights, and it nothing short of discrimination to do so. There is no difference between denying gays the right to legally marry and denying blacks the right to vote; both are a violation of civil rights because of discrimination.
This is not just an issue at the state level anymore, for it is time for our federal government to step in. If our federal government is going to allow states to continue opposing gay rights in anyway, then the United States is being proven to be hypocritical and in violation of the fundamental views implemented by a proclaimed nation built on justice. The federal government needs to recognize the inequality evident at the state levels towards gays and how it contradicts our nation’s adamant views of equality and civil rights. By not taking action on a federal level, the United States as a nation is acting as bystander to the internally unjust issues taking place. For a nation which triumphs itself for overcoming issues of injustice such as the abolishment of slavery and the civil rights movement, it appears wrong to let this happen on its own national soil. What is even more dismaying is the lack of federal action being taken with this issue. By no means am I advocating a tightened federal grip or less power to the state governments, but there needs to be action taken to end the current violations of American promises and patriotic truths.
The next issue to analyze is the usage of racist, sexist, and homophobic language. The issues regarding prejudice language are the existence of different levels of acceptance and double standards across the population. Different communities may view prejudice language differently. For example, a black teenager who grew up in Detroit may view the N-word as acceptable when addressing his peers, while a black teenager who grew up in Alabama may think differently. It is safe to say that racist language should never be used, however I understand the reason why some people continue to use it in a non-insulting way. My understanding does not imply agreement, but instead it sheds light on the possible reasoning behind continuing to use words proven to be insulting or hurtful. If the language is the social norm in a group and being used with no bad intention, there is no reason to argue to the group why it should be banned. Words are just words at the essence, but society and culture pin interpretations and meanings with them; words then become language. If a group of people is using a presumably racist word but without its racist meaning, there is no reason to stop it. By drawing attention to the fact the word is being used, its racist meaning is fueled and continues to live on. Imagine if no one thought the word “bitch” was insulting. If there were no predispositions with the word “bitch,” and it held no difference in meaning than the word “girl,” there would be no reason for someone to be insulted by hearing it; consequently, there would be no intentional reason to use “bitch” instead of “girl.” People who would typically use “bitch” to spark reaction or cause insult would have no reason to if it lacked negative stigma. By assigning negative connotations with racist and sexist words, there is reason for people with prejudice intentions to continue using these types of words, which continue drawing attention.
Pop culture commonly illustrates the double standards of language in our society. Popular rappers will use the N-word along with other derogatory slangs, and most of the lyrical content is degrading to females or morally unsettling. We are currently living in a society where prejudice language is a gray area. I can see how pop culture can be an exception when it comes to using this type of language because there are no malicious intentions behind the lyrics. Artists may speak with prejudice language or sexist content, but the songs serve merely as musical entertainment, not as personal insult. Many popular artists have intentions to gain popularity and spread their music, not necessarily spread the literal views expressed in top-chart songs. Unfortunately, our society is drawn to controversy and attentive to sex appeal; as an obvious result, the music containing those two aspects will reach fame and acquire radio play. Although it sets bad examples for society and can be seen as insulting, it is important to understand the racist and sexist language in pop culture should not be interpreted as an example of injustice; usage of such language is related more to ignorance than injustice.
Homophobic language is different than sexist or racist language not in terms of being wrong or prejudice, but in terms of how it is spoken within our society. Homophobic language is never without a malicious intention. Unlike some racist language, homophobic language is not culturally accepted and stripped of its meaning. Knowing it is only used as products of hatred and prejudice, it is wrong to ever use any homophobic language. There is injustice associated with its usage. If I heard someone using it in everyday conversation, regardless of using it with prejudice meaning, I would feel the need to say something. A scenario could be the person did not realize how insulting he or she sounds and the possibility of someday causing insult. A worse scenario is the person intentionally meant harm with the words, but I interrupted to express my disapproval. If every time that person used homophobic language and was interrupted by an insulted by-stander, hopefully there would be some type of change as a result. Perhaps the person may consider reevaluating his or her vocabulary or, even better, the views behind the homophobic language. Perhaps the person continues to be prejudice but stops speaking with that type of language because of the annoyance associated with being interrupted. Either way, there is potential of change by not standing for the injustice of homophobic language.
Another situation to evaluate is the reasoning behind choosing specific people to have seats on the final lifeboat of a sinking ship. I believe the women and children should have first priority on seats. I am not completely sure of where this belief originated from, but it is my first thought. It may be attributed to the tendency of the media to portray men as heroic figures making sacrifices to put women and children first. The movies are excellent at making the decisions during life-or-death situations appear to be admirable and morally just. I remember how the movie “Titanic” portrayed the men as gentleman and a social practice of first boarding women and children onto the lifeboats. I am unsure if that same priority would be implemented in reality, or perhaps it was only realistic for that era. I would assign seats in the lifeboat to all women and children first, but I would exclude the elderly females in my first wave of priority seating. It may sound insensitive to discriminate based off age, but there is a righteous reason. I rather put fathers who have children already seated in the next available seats before the elderly. It would be nothing short of devastating to separate a mother and child from the father. Although that situation may still occur, the second wave of seats is given to fathers with children in the lifeboats. Family is extremely important to me, and I believe they should not be separated. The next wave of people I would seat would include anyone with a special trade or medical background. At this point I would not be assigning seats based on moral reasoning. I would strategically choose people who bring value or skills to the lifeboat in terms of survival. I would not give the elderly seats because I believe they have lived a longer life than other potential candidates, especially those who have families and children waiting at home. An elderly person does not have young children waiting at home. The idea of a child growing up without one of his or her parents strikes my emotional side. If an elderly man were a doctor, however, I would assign him a seat because of the value he presents to the group of survivors. A doctor would be an asset to the group. It is hard to consider the situation in which I am asked to give up my seat. I do not think I would, in all honesty. My reasoning behind this is not only pure selflessness, but it would be my youth and physical strength. I believe I would be of value for those on the lifeboat during the time waiting to be rescued. I am stronger than average for my size and have high cardiovascular endurance, which could likely come in handy during the course of surviving at sea. However, I would give my seat up to anyone in my family with no question.
The military is often controversial in its actions of justice and injustice. The Navy Seals killed everyone in Osama bin Laden’s compound during the invasion and his capture. This did not violate any views of injustice in my eyes. The war actions carried out by our military are supposed to align with what the United States sees as acting out of justice. Although murder is rarely seen as righteous, this situation did not adhere to normal moral code. The entire search for Osama bin Laden was based off the American view to punish him for terrorism and the events of 9/11. At no point did it occur to me that the way the military acted during his capture was unjust. I do not always view military action as justifiable, however this situation was entirely different. The Seals killed everyone in the compound due to their own reasons, which I imagine would include just the simple association between Osama bin Laden and the people present in the compound. Our ideas of justice and injustice were different than those of Osama bin Laden and his following. If our American views of justice are unacknowledged and, if anything, considered a joke to Osama, there is no reason for our military to have acted more just in his capture.
By taking an analytical approach to certain issues of justice and injustice, my personal views have developed to reflect my beliefs and reasoning. It is obvious that environmental factors played a large role in shaping my early beliefs of right and wrong. My beliefs were furthered as I aged and began seeing situations that involved justice and injustice, not just right and wrong. My views of justice surely differ compared to others, especially when it comes to prejudice language, but everyone should have their own personalized views. I believe justice can be seen on a personal level by how we conduct ourselves and govern our actions, and it begins with a strong foundation of knowing right from wrong. Justice is not black or white, instead it is a large gray space including specific areas of lighter gray and darker gray. In those areas resembling a darker or lighter hue, the idea of justice regarding a specific issue is commonly accepted throughout a population. An example of this would be slavery. The area would most likely be a very dark, dark gray since almost every American sees slavery as unjust. It is the gray areas in between where we make our own beliefs.
My beliefs strongly resemble deep-rooted family ties, and justice can be seen in my actions. Justice does not only serve as a way to gauge right or wrong, but it also can be a driving force in setting righteous examples. When people act on their views of justice, they set strong examples for those around them. When a government stays true to its beliefs of justice, it gains credibility. Our beliefs of justice can be seen in our everyday lives. It is important to always question the issues that leave one puzzled and to consider the moral dilemmas that require justifiable reasoning.
The most important of my beliefs regarding justice can be summarized in a few main points. It is important to consider alternatives before acting in the name of justice, especially if there is controversy surrounding the action. The bystander effect is just a part of injustice as the action being ignored. Proclamation of being just must be backed by actions, and it is revoked when there is lack of needed action. A part of living with justice requires standing up for what is right. Our society is sensitive to the insult of prejudice language, yet we allow gays to be denied certain rights. It is interesting to see how people are quick to label things is wrong, yet do not consider the bigger picture. The usage of prejudice language may not be right, but it is only unjust if the intentions behind it are. Lastly, military action should always be in the name of American justice; however, this sometimes means preserving our name and punishing those who threatened our country, even if it is carried out in an unjust way.
In any situation where the issue of justice is apparent, it is crucial to thoroughly examine all components of the situation from a personal perspective in order to formulate views. Everyone should have a basis for what he or she believes is justice and injustice, but beliefs are constantly changing or developing. Keeping this in mind, my views of justice and injustice continue to change as I look at new situations.…...

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...“Justice that love gives is surrender; justice that law gives is punishment” - M.K. Gandhi It is said that Justice is truth in action. Justice should always be for both the parties. But how is it possible to satisfy this notion, when justice changes its definition with different perceptions. As Mahatma Gandhi points out, that the perceived justice will alter with the changing reasons and the events inducing it. First of all, the idea of fairness and justice will vary with situations, because of the individualism prevailing in this world. No one will accept and react to it, in the same way. For this purpose, we need to dwell into the idea of willingness and trust. In a country like India, where majority of people believe in Karmic justice, the phenomena of getting tangible compensation, in return of intangible loss, is hard to digest. The victim is of love or law, their faith in the judgement will decide the verdict. If there is no trust, no punishment to the charged, will satisfy them and for them injustice will prevail. It is believed that there are three truth of every situation - one that „you‟ perceive, one truth that „I‟ believe and the truth that is visible to the world i.e. the „Universal Truth‟. It is important for the latter to be fiercely visible to all and then justice is given. When a person is in love, he willingly trusts the judgement or rather to say the cause. And once there is readiness and acceptance, nothing else matters. Many......

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Philosophy and Justice: What Is a Just Society?

...Guidwine Bien-Aime South University Online PHI 2301 Prof. Pieragastini 02/14/15 “The issue of same-sex marriage is both politically and socially polarizing because it is so often closely tied to deeply-held personal convictions, beliefs, and principles” (Dolan, P. 2013). Everyone knows same sex marriage is a big issue that we all have opinion against. It ties into belief, culture, race, and confusion. Everyone wants love but is same sex consider love? Only people that’s gay, lesbian, transsexual, and bisexual can explain why they choose to go in that path. So what do we have to say about the people that take part in the reunite of the marriage? Do we have the right to judge people? “Same-sex marriage promises to be one of the defining issues of the twenty-first century” (Dolan, P. 2013). “While supporters of same-sex marriage have welcomed a shift in the public's perception and increasing acceptance of same-sex marriage in the last decade, controversy remains over how to balance the competing rights between marriage equality and religious freedom” (Dolan, P. 2013). “While most same-sex marriage statutes around the country include religious exemptions for religious officials, it is unclear how, or whether, these protections should extend to wedding service providers who have a religious objection to same-sex marriage” (Dolan, P. 2013). “Conflicts between same-sex couples seeking wedding services and wedding service providers who have religious objections to same-sex...

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What Justice Means to Me

...What Justice Means to Me Many words and phrases are used to describe the meaning of justice but everyone has a different definition to describe justice. Moral character, environmental factors, social issues, and many other factors can determine the meaning of justice for each individual. Justice, to me, means that fair and equal treatment for an individual's actions will be evaluated according to the rights set forth in the United States Constitution, previous court cases, and standards commonly known in society no matter an individual's ethnic or moral characteristics. Laws and bills are passed in accordance with the Constitution to be used to benefit society and the citizens of the United States. Every individual has a meaning for justice and what they hold to be true or acceptable behavior in society. According to one definition explaining the meaning of justice is described by The FreeDictionary (2008) in the following quote, "The upholding of what is just, especially fair treatment and due reward in accordance with honor, standards, or law." This meaning could be interpreted in many ways and used in different situations. I found, in previous courses in my associate degree program, that justice can be divided into different categories such as virtue, honor, morality, and ethical thinking. From combining the definition of virtue as stated by Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (2008) and ideals of justice I have come up with the following statement: The belief of......

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