The Full Wiki

Justice: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Did you know ...

More interesting facts on Justice

Include this on your site/blog:


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Lady Justice depicts justice as equipped with three symbols: a sword symbolizing the court's coercive power; a human scale weighing competing claims in each hand; and a blindfold indicating impartiality.[1]

Justice is the concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, religion, fairness, or equity.[2]


Concept of justice

Justice concerns itself with the proper ordering of things and people within a society. As a concept it has been subject to philosophical, legal, and theological reflection and debate throughout our history. A number of important questions surrounding justice have been fiercely debated over the course of western history: What is justice? What does it demand of individuals and societies? What is the proper distribution of wealth and resources in society: equal, meritocratic, according to status, or some other arrangement? There are myriad possible answers to these questions from divergent perspectives on the political and philosophical spectrum.

According to most theories of justice, it is overwhelmingly important: John Rawls, for instance, claims that "Justice is the first virtue of social institutions, as truth is of systems of thought."[3]: Justice can be thought of as distinct from and more fundamental than benevolence, charity, mercy, generosity or compassion. Justice has traditionally been associated with concepts of fate, reincarnation or Divine Providence, i.e. with a life in accordance with the cosmic plan. The association of justice with fairness has thus been historically and culturally rare and is perhaps chiefly a modern innovation.[4]

Studies at UCLA in 2008 have indicated that reactions to fairness are "wired" into the brain and that, "Fairness is activating the same part of the brain that responds to food in rats... This is consistent with the notion that being treated fairly satisfies a basic need" [5]. Research conducted in 2003 at Emory University, Georgia, involving Capuchin Monkeys demonstrated that other cooperative animals also possess such a sense and that "inequity aversion may not be uniquely human."[6] indicating that ideas of fairness and justice may be instinctual in nature.

Variations of justice

Utilitarianism is a form of consequentialism, where punishment is forward-looking. Justified by the ability to achieve future social benefits resulting in crime reduction, the moral worth of an action is determined by its outcome.

Retributive justice regulates proportionate response to crime proven by lawful evidence, so that punishment is justly imposed and considered as morally-correct and fully deserved. The law of retaliation (lex talionis) is a military theory of retributive justice, which says that reciprocity should be equal to the wrong suffered; "life for life, wound for wound, stripe for stripe."[7]

Restorative justice is concerned not so much with retribution and punishment as with (a) making the victim whole and (b) reintegrating the offender into society. This approach frequently brings an offender and a victim together, so that the offender can better understand the effect his/her offense had on the victim.

Distributive justice is directed at the proper allocation of things — wealth, power, reward, respect — between different people.

Oppressive Law exercises an authoritarian approach to legislation which is "totally unrelated to justice", a tyrannical interpretation of law is one in which the population lives under restriction from unlawful legislation.

Some theorists, such as the classical Greeks and Romans, conceive of justice as a virtue—a property of people, and only derivatively of their actions and the institutions they create. Others emphasize actions or institutions, and only derivatively the people who bring them about. The source of justice has variously been attributed to harmony, divine command, natural law, or human creation.

Understandings of justice

Justice by Luca Giordano

Justice as harmony

In his dialogue Republic, Plato uses Socrates to argue for justice which covers both the just person and the just City State. Justice is a proper, harmonious relationship between the warring parts of the person or city. Hence Plato's definition of justice is that justice is the having and doing of what is one's own. A just man is a man in just the right place, doing his best and giving the precise equivalent of what he has received. This applies both at the individual level and at the universal level. A person’s soul has three parts – reason, spirit and desire. Similarly, a city has three parts – Socrates uses the parable of the chariot to illustrate his point: a chariot works as a whole because the two horses’ power is directed by the charioteer. Lovers of wisdom – philosophers, in one sense of the term – should rule because only they understand what is good. If one is ill, one goes to a doctor rather than a quack, because the doctor is expert in the subject of health. Similarly, one should trust one’s city to an expert in the subject of the good, not to a mere politician who tries to gain power by giving people what they want, rather than what’s good for them. Socrates uses the parable of the ship to illustrate this point: the unjust city is like a ship in open ocean, crewed by a powerful but drunken captain (the common people), a group of untrustworthy advisors who try to manipulate the captain into giving them power over the ship’s course (the politicians), and a navigator (the philosopher) who is the only one who knows how to get the ship to port. For Socrates, the only way the ship will reach its destination – the good – is if the navigator takes charge.[8]

Justice as divine command

Justice as a divine law is commanding, and indeed the whole of morality, is the authoritative command. Killing is wrong and therefore must be punished and if not punished what should be done? There is a famous paradox called the Euthyphro dilemma which essentially asks: is something right because God commands it, or does God command it because it's right? If the former, then justice is arbitrary; if the latter, then morality exists on a higher order than God, who becomes little more than a passer-on of moral knowledge. Some Divine command advocates respond by pointing out that the dilemma is false: goodness is the very nature of God and is necessarily expressed in His commands.

Justice as natural law

For advocates of the theory that justice is part of natural law (e.g., John Locke), it involves the system of consequences which naturally derives from any action or choice. In this, it is similar to the laws of physics: in the same way as the Third of Newton's laws of Motion requires that for every action there must be an equal and opposite reaction, justice requires according individuals or groups what they actually deserve, merit, or are entitled to. Justice, on this account, is a universal and absolute concept: laws, principles, religions, etc., are merely attempts to codify that concept, sometimes with results that entirely contradict the true nature of justice.

Justice as human creation

In contrast to the understandings canvassed so far, justice may be understood as a human creation, rather than a discovery of harmony, divine command, or natural law. This claim can be understood in a number of ways, with the fundamental division being between those who argue that justice is the creation of some humans, and those who argue that it is the creation of all humans.

Justice as authoritative command

Injustice by Giotto di Bondone

According to thinkers including Thomas Hobbes, justice is created by public, enforceable, authoritative rules, and injustice is whatever those rules forbid, regardless of their relation to morality. Justice is created, not merely described or approximated, by the command of an absolute sovereign power. This position has some similarities with divine command theory (see above), with the difference that the state (or other authority) replaces God.

Justice as trickery

In Republic, the character Thrasymachus argues that justice is the interest of the strong—merely a name for what the powerful or cunning ruler has imposed on the people.

Justice as mutual agreement

According to thinkers in the social contract tradition, justice is derived from the mutual agreement of everyone concerned; or, in many versions, from what they would agree to under hypothetical conditions including equality and absence of bias. This account is considered further below, under ‘Justice as fairness’.

Justice as a subordinate value

According to utilitarian thinkers including John Stuart Mill, justice is not as fundamental as we often think. Rather, it is derived from the more basic standard of rightness, consequentialism: what is right is what has the best consequences (usually measured by the total or average welfare caused). So, the proper principles of justice are those which tend to have the best consequences. These rules may turn out to be familiar ones such as keeping contracts; but equally, they may not, depending on the facts about real consequences. Either way, what is important is those consequences, and justice is important, if at all, only as derived from that fundamental standard. Mill tries to explain our mistaken belief that justice is overwhelmingly important by arguing that it derives from two natural human tendencies: our desire to retaliate against those who hurt us, and our ability to put ourselves imaginatively in another’s place. So, when we see someone harmed, we project ourselves into her situation and feel a desire to retaliate on her behalf. If this process is the source of our feelings about justice, that ought to undermine our confidence in them.[9]

Theories of distributive justice

Main article: Distributive justice

Allegory or The Triumph of Justice by Hans von Aachen

Theories of distributive justice need to answer three questions:

  1. What goods are to be distributed? Is it to be wealth, power, respect, some combination of these things?
  2. Between what entities are they to be distributed? Humans (dead, living, future), sentient beings, the members of a single society, nations?
  3. What is the proper distribution? Equal, meritocratic, according to social status, according to need, based on property rights and non-aggression?

Distributive justice theorists generally do not answer questions of who has the right to enforce a particular favored distribution. On the other hand, property rights theorists argue that there is no "favored distribution." Rather, distribution should be based simply on whatever distribution results from non-coerced interactions or transactions (that is, transactions not based upon force or fraud).

This section describes some widely-held theories of distributive justice, and their attempts to answer these questions.


According to the egalitarian, goods should be distributed equally. This basic view can be elaborated in many different ways, according to what goods are to be distributed—wealth, respect, opportunity—and what they are to be distributed equally between—individuals, families, nations, races, species. Commonly-held egalitarian positions include demands for equality of opportunity and for equality of outcome.

Giving people what they deserve

In one sense, all theories of distributive justice claim that everyone should get what they deserve. Theories disagree on the basis for deserving. The main distinction is between theories that argue the basis of just deserts is held equally by everyone, and therefore derive egalitarian accounts of distributive justice—and theories that argue the basis of just deserts is unequally distributed on the basis of, for instance, hard work, and therefore derive accounts of distributive justice by which some should have more than others. This section deals with some popular theories of the second type.

According to meritocratic theories, goods, especially wealth and social status, should be distributed to match individual merit, which is usually understood as some combination of talent and hard work. According to needs-based theories, goods, especially such basic goods as food, shelter and medical care, should be distributed to meet individuals' basic needs for them. Marxism can be regarded as a needs-based theory on some readings of Marx's slogan "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need."[10] According to contribution-based theories, goods should be distributed to match an individual's contribution to the overall social good.


J.L. Urban, statue of Lady Justice at court building in Olomouc, Czech Republic

In his A Theory of Justice, John Rawls used a social contract argument to show that justice, and especially distributive justice, is a form of fairness: an impartial distribution of goods. Rawls asks us to imagine ourselves behind a veil of ignorance which denies us all knowledge of our personalities, social statuses, moral characters, wealth, talents and life plans, and then asks what theory of justice we would choose to govern our society when the veil is lifted, if we wanted to do the best that we could for ourselves. We don’t know who in particular we are, and therefore can’t bias the decision in our own favour. So, the decision-in-ignorance models fairness, because it excludes selfish bias. Rawls argues that each of us would reject the utilitarian theory of justice that we should maximize welfare (see below) because of the risk that we might turn out to be someone whose own good is sacrificed for greater benefits for others. Instead, we would endorse Rawls’s two principles of justice:

  • Each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive total system of equal basic liberties compatible with a similar system of liberty for all.
  • Social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that they are both
    • to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged, consistent with the just savings principle, and
    • attached to offices and positions open to all under conditions of fair equality of opportunity.[11]

This imagined choice justifies these principles as the principles of justice for us, because we would agree to them in a fair decision procedure. Rawls’s theory distinguishes two kinds of goods – (1) liberties and (2) social and economic goods, i.e. wealth, income and power – and applies different distributions to them – equality between citizens for (1), equality unless inequality improves the position of the worst off for (2).

Property Rights (non-coercion)/Having the right history

Robert Nozick’s influential critique of Rawls argues that distributive justice is not a matter of the whole distribution matching an ideal pattern, but of each individual entitlement having the right kind of history. It is just that a person has some good (especially, some property right) if and only if they came to have it by a history made up entirely of events of two kinds:

1. Just acquisition, especially by working on unowned things; and
2. Just transfer, that is free gift, sale or other agreement, but not theft (i.e. by force or fraud).

If the chain of events leading up to the person having something meets this criterion, they are entitled to it: that they possess it is just, and what anyone else does or doesn't have or need is irrelevant.

On the basis of this theory of distributive justice, Nozick argues that all attempts to redistribute goods according to an ideal pattern, without the consent of their owners, are theft. In particular, redistributive taxation is theft.

Some property rights theorists also take a consequentialist view of distributive justice and argue that property rights based justice also has the effect of maximizing the overall wealth of an economic system. They explain that voluntary (non-coerced) transactions always have a property called pareto efficiency. A pareto efficient transaction is one in which at least one party ends up better off and neither party ends up worse off. The result is that the world is better off in an absolute sense and no one is worse off. Such consequentialist property rights theorists argue that respecting property rights maximizes the number of pareto efficient transactions in the world and minimized the number of non-pareto efficient transactions in the world (i.e. transactions where someone is made worse off). The result is that the world will have generated the greatest total benefit from the limited, scarce resources available in the world. Further, this will have been accomplished without taking anything away from anyone by coercion.


According to the utilitarian, justice requires the maximization of the total or average welfare across all relevant individuals. This may require sacrifice of some for the good of others, so long as everyone’s good is taken impartially into account. Utilitarianism, in general, argues that the standard of justification for actions, institutions, or the whole world, is impartial welfare consequentialism, and only indirectly, if at all, to do with rights, property, need, or any other non-utilitarian criterion. These other criteria might be indirectly important, to the extent that human welfare involves them. But even then, such demands as human rights would only be elements in the calculation of overall welfare, not uncrossable barriers to action.

Theories of retributive justice

Theories of retributive justice are concerned with punishment for wrongdoing, and need to answer three questions:

  1. why punish?
  2. who should be punished?
  3. what punishment should they receive?

This section considers the two major accounts of retributive justice, and their answers to these questions. Utilitarian theories look forward to the future consequences of punishment, while retributive theories look back to particular acts of wrongdoing, and attempt to balance them with deserved punishment.


According to the utilitarian, as already noted, justice requires the maximization of the total or average welfare across all relevant individuals. Punishment is bad treatment of someone, and therefore can’t be good in itself, for the utilitarian. But punishment might be a necessary sacrifice which maximizes the overall good in the long term, in one or more of three ways:

  1. Deterrence. The credible threat of punishment might lead people to make different choices; well-designed threats might lead people to make choices which maximize welfare.
  2. Rehabilitation. Punishment might make bad people into better ones. For the utilitarian, all that ‘bad person’ can mean is ‘person who’s likely to cause bad things (like suffering) ’. So, utilitarianism could recommend punishment that changes someone such that they are less likely to cause bad things.
  3. Security/Incapacitation. Perhaps there are people who are irredeemable causers of bad things. If so, imprisoning them might maximize welfare by limiting their opportunities to cause harm and therefore the benefit lies within protecting society.

So, the reason for punishment is the maximization of welfare, and punishment should be of whomever, and of whatever form and severity, are needed to meet that goal. Worryingly, this may sometimes justify punishing the innocent, or inflicting disproportionately severe punishments, when that will have the best consequences overall (perhaps executing a few suspected shoplifters live on television would be an effective deterrent to shoplifting, for instance). It also suggests that punishment might turn out never to be right, depending on the facts about what actual consequences it has.[12]


The retributivist will think the utilitarian's argument disastrously mistaken. If someone does something wrong, we must respond to it, and to him or her, as an individual, not as a part of a calculation of overall welfare. To do otherwise is to disrespect him or her as an individual human being. If the crime had victims, it is to disrespect them, too. Wrongdoing must be balanced or made good in some way, and so the criminal deserves to be punished. Retributivism emphasizes retribution – payback – rather than maximization of welfare. Like the theory of distributive justice as giving everyone what they deserve (see above), it links justice with desert. It says that all guilty people, and only guilty people, deserve appropriate punishment. This matches some strong intuitions about just punishment: that it should be proportional to the crime, and that it should be of only and all of the guilty. However, it is sometimes argued that retributivism is merely revenge in disguise.[13] Despite this criticism, there are numerous differences between retribution and revenge: the former is impartial, has a scale of appropriateness and corrects a moral wrong, whereas the latter is personal, unlimited in scale, and often corrects a slight.


The Justices of the United States Supreme Court with President George W. Bush, October 2005

In a world where people are interconnected but they disagree, institutions are required to instantiate ideals of justice. These institutions may be justified by their approximate instantiation of justice, or they may be deeply unjust when compared with ideal standards — consider the institution of slavery. Justice is an ideal which the world fails to live up to, sometimes despite good intentions, sometimes disastrously. The question of institutive justice raises issues of legitimacy, procedure, codification and interpretation, which are considered by legal theorists and by philosophers of law.

Another definition of justice is an independent investigation of truth. In a court room, lawyers, the judge and the jury are supposed to be independently investigating the truth of an alleged crime. In physics, a group of physicists examine data and theoretical concepts to consult on what might be the truth or reality of a phenomenon.

See also


  1. ^ Luban, Law's Blindfold, 23
  2. ^ Konow, James. 2003. "Which Is the Fairest One of All? A Positive Analysis of Justice Theories." Journal of Economic Literature 41, no. 4: page 1188
  3. ^ John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (revised edn, Oxford: OUP, 1999), p. 3
  4. ^ Daston, Lorraine (2008). ""Life, Chance and Life Chances"". Daedalus: 5–14. 
  5. ^ Brain reacts to fairness as it does to money and chocolate, study shows / UCLA Newsroom
  6. ^ Nature 425, 297-299 (18 September 2003)
  7. ^ Exodus 21.xxiii-xxv.
  8. ^ Plato, Republic trans. Robin Waterfield (Oxford: OUP, 1984).
  9. ^ John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism in On Liberty and Other Essays ed. John Gray (Oxford: OUP, 1991), Chapter 5.
  10. ^ Karl Marx, 'Critique of the Gotha Program' in Karl Marx: Selected writings ed. David McLellan (Oxford: OUP, 1977): 564-70, p. 569.
  11. ^ John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (revised edition, Oxford: OUP, 1999), p. 266.
  12. ^ C. L. Ten, ‘Crime and Punishment’ in Peter Singer ed., A Companion to Ethics (Oxford: Blackwell, 1993): 366-72.
  13. ^ Ted Honderich, Punishment: The supposed justifications (London: Hutchinson & Co., 1969), Chapter 1.

Further reading

  • Anthony Duff & David Garland eds, A Reader on Punishment (Oxford: OUP, 1994).
  • Barzilai Gad, Communities and Law: Politics and Cultures of Legal Identities (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2003).
  • Brian Barry, Theories of Justice (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989).
  • C.L. Ten, Crime, Guilt, and Punishment: A philosophical introduction (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987).
  • Colin Farrelly, An Introduction to Contemporary Political Theory (London: Sage, 2004).
  • David Gauthier, Morals By Agreement (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986).
  • James Konow (2003). "Which Is the Fairest One of All? A Positive Analysis of Justice Theories," Journal of Economic Literature, 41(4), p p. 1188-1239.
  • David Schmidtz, Elements of Justice (New York: CUP, 2006).
  • Harry Brighouse, Justice (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2004).
  • John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (revised edition, Oxford: OUP, 1999).
  • John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism in On Liberty and Other Essays ed. John Gray (Oxford: OUP, 1991).
  • Nicola Lacey, State Punishment (London: Routledge, 1988).
  • Peter Singer ed., A Companion to Ethics (Oxford: Blackwell, 1993), Part IV.
  • Plato, Republic trans. Robin Waterfield (Oxford: OUP, 1994).
  • Robert E. Goodin & Philip Pettit eds, Contemporary Political Philosophy: An anthology (2nd edition, Malden Mass.: Blackwell, 2006), Part III.
  • Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State, and Utopia (Oxford: Blackwell, 1974).
  • Ted Honderich, Punishment: The supposed justifications (London: Hutchinson & Co., 1969).
  • Will Kymlicka, Contemporary Political Philosophy: An introduction (2nd edition, Oxford: OUP, 2002).

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Fiat justitia, ruat caelum. — Let justice be done, though the heavens may fall. ~ William Murray, Somersett's Case, 1772

Justice is a concept involving the fair, moral, and impartial treatment of all persons. In its most general sense, it means according individuals what they actually deserve or merit, or are in some sense entitled to. Justice is a particularly foundational concept within most systems of "law". From the perspective of pragmatism, it is the name for a fair result.



Fiat iustitia et pereat mundus. — Let justice be done, though the world perish. ~ Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor
Fiat iustitia, ne pereat mundus. — Let justice be done, lest the world perish. ~ Ludwig von Mises
True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice. ~ Martin Luther King
I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice. ~ Abraham Lincoln
Peace is not an absence of war, it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice. ~ Baruch Spinoza
  • The blessings we associate with a life of refinement and culture can be made universal. The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.
  • Liberty, equality — bad principles! The only true principle for humanity is justice; and justice to the feeble becomes necessarily protection or kindness.
    • Henri-Frédéric Amiel, undated entry of December 1863 or early 1864, in Amiel's Journal : The Journal Intime of Henri-Frédéric Amiel as translated by Humphry Ward (1893), p. 215
  • Moral excellence comes about as a result of habit. We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts.
    • Aristotle in Nichomachean Ethics (ca. 325 BC) Book II
  • Justice and equity are neither absolutely identical nor generically different. ... If they are different, either the just or the equitabe is not good; if both are good, they are the same thing. ... For equity, while superior to one sort of justice, is itself just ... Justice and equity are therefore the same thing, and both are good, though equity is the better.
    The source of the difficulty is that equity, though just, is not legal justice, but a rectification of legal justice. The reason for this is that law is always a general statement, yet there are cases which it is not possible to cover in a general statement.
    • Aristotle in Nichomachean Ethics (ca. 325 BC) Book V
  • The aim of justice is, as the Romans used to say, to give each his due, and in order for each to be given what is his, it is necessary that it already belong to him; to "give", in this sense, means to protect the right of possession. Each man gets "what belongs to him" in the course of voluntary exchanges that constitute the economic process, and, by virtue of the operation of the market, each receives for his contribution, precisely the amount that will impel him to increase the supply of the most urgently demanded commodities… Only when each man thereby gets what belongs to him, and someone wants to take it away from him, does a question of justice arise.
    • Faustino Ballve in "What Economics is Not About" in Essentials of Economics : A Brief Survey of Principles and Policies (1963), as translated by Arthur Goddard
  • Shalt thou reign, because thou closest thyself in cedar? Did not thy father eat and drink, and do judgment and justice, and then it was well with him?
  • Fiat justitia, ruat caelum.
    • Let justice be done, though the heavens may fall.
    • See Fiat justitia ruat caelum at Wikipedia for detailed origin.
    • The phrase does not appear in classical sources,[1] though it is sometimes attributed to Lucius Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus, which may be a confusion with a similar story by Seneca, featuring a different Piso.
    • The first known appearance in English is in the form ‘Fiat justitia et ruant coeli.’ in “Ten Quodlibetical Quotations Concerning Religion and State” (1601) by William Watson.
    • The phrase was popularized by William Murray who used it during the famous Somersett's Case 1772 in which he ruled that there was no legal basis for slavery in England.
  • Now my friends, I am opposed to the system of society in which we live today, not because I lack the natural equipment to do for myself, but because I am not satisfied to make myself comfortable knowing that there are thousands of my fellow men who suffer for the barest necessities of life. We were taught under the old ethic that man's business on this earth was to look out for himself. That was the ethic of the jungle; the ethic of the wild beast. Take care of yourself, no matter what may become of your fellow man. Thousands of years ago the question was asked: "Am I my brother's keeper?" That question has never yet been answered in a way that is satisfactory to civilized society.
    Yes, I am my brother's keeper. I am under a moral obligation to him that is inspired, not by any maudlin sentimentality, but by the higher duty I owe to myself. What would you think of me if I were capable of seating myself at a table and gorging myself with food and saw about me the children of my fellow beings starving to death?
  • Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.
    • Frederick Douglass Speech on the twenty-fourth anniversary of Emancipation in the District of Columbia, Washington, D.C. (April 1886)
  • A just city should favour justice and the just, hate tyranny and injustice, and give them both their just desserts.
    • al-Farabi, quoted and translated by Gibb, H. et al. (eds.) (1991) 'Mazalim' in The Dictionary of Islam vol. IV Leiden: Brill
  • Fiat iustitia et pereat mundus.
  • The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.
    • Variant: How noble the law, in its majestic equality, that both the rich and poor are equally prohibited from peeing in the streets, sleeping under bridges, and stealing bread!
    • Anatole France Le Lys Rouge (The Red Lily), ch. 7 (1894)
  • We ought always to deal justly, not only with those who are just to us, but likewise to those who endeavor to injure us; and this, for fear lest by rendering them evil for evil, we should fall into the same vice.
    • Hierocles, as quoted in Ladies Companion Vol. XIII (May - October 1840) edited by William W. Snowden
  • Love, like truth and beauty, is concrete. Love is not fundamentally a sweet feeling; not, at heart, a matter of sentiment, attachment, or being "drawn toward". Love is active, effective, a matter of making reciprocal and mutually beneficial relation with one's friends and enemies. Love creates righteousness, or justice, here on earth. To make love is to make justice. As advocates and activists for justice know, loving involves struggle, resistance, risk. People working today on behalf of women, blacks, lesbians and gay men, the aging, the poor in this country and elsewhere know that making justice is not a warm, fuzzy experience. I think also that sexual lovers and good friends know that the most compelling relationships demand hard work, patience, and a willingness to endure tensions and anxiety in creating mutually empowering bonds.
    For this reason loving involves commitment. We are not automatic lovers of self, others, world, or God. Love does not just happen. We are not love machines, puppets on the strings of a deity called "love". Love is a choice — not simply, or necessarily, a rational choice, but rather a willingness to be present to others without pretense or guile. Love is a conversion to humanity — a willingness to participate with others in the healing of a broken world and broken lives. Love is the choice to experience life as a member of the human family, a partner in the dance of life, rather than as an alien in the world or as a deity above the world, aloof and apart from human flesh.
    • Carter Heyward, in Our Passion for Justice : Images of Power, Sexuality, and Liberation (1984)
  • Justice is a constant and perpetual will to render to everyone that which is his own.
    • Justinian, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 361.
  • True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.
    • Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1955 responding to an accusation that he was "disturbing the peace" by his activism during the Montgomery Bus Boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, as quoted in Let the Trumpet Sound : A Life of Martin Luther King, Jr (1982) by Stephen B. Oates
  • Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
  • I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.
    • Abraham Lincoln, as quoted in Lincoln Memorial (1882), edited by Osborn Oldroyd
  • Anyone who recognizes the eudemonistic character of all ethical valuation is exempt from further discussion of ethical Socialism. For such a one the Moral does not stand outside the scale of values which comprises all values of life. For him no moral ethic is valid per se. He must first be allowed to inquire why it is so rated. He can never reject that which has been recognized as beneficial and reasonable simply because a norm, based on some mysterious intuition, declares it to be immoral—a norm the sense and purpose of which he is not entitled even to investigate. His principle is not fiat iustitia, pereat mundus, (let justice be done, though the world perish), but fiat iustitia, ne pereat mundus (let justice be done, lest the world perish).
  • Normal concepts of fairness and justice can be relevant only if susceptible to being assigned economic value.
    • John Murphy, in the introduction to the 12th edition of Street on Torts (2007) concerning certain lawyers' approach to Tort law.
  • Conscience is the chamber of justice.
    • Origen, quoted in Dictionary of Quotations from Ancient and Modern English and Foreign Sources (1899) by James Wood, p. 46
  • Laws change, depending on who's making them, but justice is justice.
    • Odo in "A Man Alone" in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Season 1, Episode 4 (1993), written by Michael Piller and Gerald Sanford
  • He shook his head. "There's no justice."
    Death sighed. No, he said, there's just me.
  • We have made you ruler in the land; so judge between men with justice and do not follow desire.
The higher judge is the universal and absolute Spirit alone — the World-Spirit ... The relation of one particular State to another presents, on the largest possible scale, the most shifting play of individual passions, interests, aims, talents, virtues, power, injustice, vice, and mere external chance. ... Out of this dialectic rises the universal Spirit, the unlimited World-Spirit, pronouncing its judgement — and its judgement is the highest — upon the Nations of the World's History; for the History of the World is the World's court of justice.
  • Justice of the world is in its creativity, in solving problems, in our activity and struggle. While I am alive there is the possibility to act, to strive for happiness, this is justice.
  • Justice is conscience, not a personal conscience but the conscience of the whole of humanity. Those who clearly recognize the voice of their own conscience usually recognize also the voice of justice.
    • Alexander Solzhenitsyn, in a letter to three students (October 1967), published in "The Struggle Intensifies" in Solzhenitsyn : A Documentary Record (1970) edited by Leopold Labedz
  • Peace is not an absence of war, it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice.
  • Law and justice are not always the same. When they aren't, destroying the law may be the first step toward changing it.
    • Gloria Steinem, in Open Secrets : Ninety-four Women in Touch with Our Time (1972) by Barbaralee Diamonstein
  • It is the spirit and not the form of law that keeps justice alive.
    • Earl Warren, in "The Law and the Future" in Fortune magazine (November 1955)
  • You condemn on hearsay evidence alone, your sins increase.
    • Anonymous African proverb, quoted in Apropos of Africa : Sentiments of Negro American Leaders on Africa from the 1800s to the 1950s (1969) edited by Adelaide Cromwell Hill and Martin Kilson
  • At some time, here or hereafter, every account must be settled, and every debt paid in full.
    • J. H. Vincent, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 361.
  • The justice system doesn't work on behalf of victims; it works on behalf of justice.
    • Kate Harding, "Reminder: Roman Polanski raped a child", an article[1] for

The Circle of Justice

There are numerous versions and translations of statements referred to as "The Circle of Justice". Ibn Khaldun in the Muqaddimah states that it originates with Khosrau I based on statements of Aristotle.
  • The world is a garden the fence of which is the dynasty.
    The dynasty is an authority through which life is given proper behavior.
    Proper behavior is a policy directed by the ruler.
    The ruler is an institution supported by the soldiers.
    The soldiers are helpers who are maintained by money.
    Money is sustenance brought together by the subjects.
    The subjects are servants who are protected by justice.
    Justice is something familiar (harmonious) and through it, the world persists.
    The world is a garden... and then it begins again ... they are held together in a circle with no definite beginning or end.
  • No one is fit to govern, save he who is mild without weakness and strong without harshness. They used to say :
    There can be no government without men,
    No men without money,
    No money without prosperity,
    And no prosperity without justice and good administration.
    • The "Circle of Justice" as quoted in Human Rights in Islam (1980) by Parveen Shaukat Ali, p. 72
  • The world is a garden for the state to master.
    The state is power supported by the law.
    The law is policy administered by the king.
    The king is a shepherd supported by the army.
    The army are assistants provided for by taxation.
    Taxation is sustenance gathered by subjects.
    Subjects are slaves provided for by justice.
    Justice is that by which the rectitude of the world subsists.
    • The Counsels of Alexander, presented to the Timurid prince Baysunghur (1495 - 1497). Translated and quoted in Timur and the Princely Vision : Persian Art and Culture in the Fifteenth Century (1989) by Thomas W. Lentz and Glenn D. Lowry


  • The sad duty of politics is to establish justice in a sinful world.
  • The challenge of social justice is to evoke a sense of community that we need to make our nation a better place, just as we make it a safer place.
  • A mule will labor ten years willingly and patiently for you, for the privilege of kicking you once.
  • Justice doesn't mean the bad guy goes to jail, it just means that someone pays for the crime
  • Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.
  • Only the man who has enough good in him to feel the justice of the penalty can be punished; the others can only be hurt.
  • We cannot seek or attain health, wealth, learning, justice or kindness in general. Action is always specific, concrete, individualized, unique.
  • I look forward confidently to the day when all who work for a living will be one with no thought to their separateness as Negroes, Jews, Italians or any other distinctions. This will be the day when we bring into full realization the American dream — a dream yet unfulfilled. A dream of equality of opportunity, of privilege and property widely distributed; a dream of a land where men will not take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few; a dream of a land where men will not argue that the color of a man's skin determines the content of his character; a dream of a nation where all our gifts and resources are held not for ourselves alone, but as instruments of service for the rest of humanity; the dream of a country where every man will respect the dignity and worth of the human personality.
  • If hard work were such a wonderful thing, surely the rich would have kept it all to themselves.
  • Let the workers organize. Let the toilers assemble. Let their crystallized voice proclaim their injustices and demand their privileges. Let all thoughtful citizens sustain them, for the future of Labor is the future of America.
  • There is a thin line between justice and revenge, though they are not mutually exclusive.
    • Ryan Mclean
  • Nor yet are they to be submitted to the mere men of the law; for these are necessarily trained to endeavor to make wrong appear right, or to involve both in a maze of intricacies, and to legalized injustice.
  • When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?
  • No justice, no peace.
    • Traditional, dating at least to the 1768 imprisonment of John Wilkes.

See also


  1. “The Position and Duties of the Merchant: Address Before the Mercantile Library Association of Boston, Nov. 13, 1854." in The Works of Charles Sumner, Volume III, Boston: Lee and Shephard, 1875, p. 507.

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:
Look up justice in Wiktionary, the free dictionary

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

This is a disambiguation page, which lists works which share the same title. If an article link referred you here, please consider editing it to point directly to the intended page.

Justice may refer to:

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

JUSTICE (Lat. justitia), a term used both in the abstract, for the quality of being or doing what is just, i.e. right in law and equity, and in the concrete for an officer deputed by the sovereign to administer justice, and do right by way of judgment. It has long been the official title of the judges of two of the English superior courts of common law, and it is now extended to all the judges in the supreme court of judicature - a judge in the High Court of Justice being styled Mr Justice, and in the court of appeal Lord Justice. The president of the king's bench division of the High Court is styled Lord Chief Justice. The word is also applied, and perhaps more usually, to certain subordinate magistrates who administer justice in minor matters, and who are usually called justices of the peace (q.v.).

<< De Jussieu

Justice Of The Peace >>

Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

is rendering to every one that which is his due. It has been distinguished from equity in this respect, that while justice means merely the doing what positive law demands, equity means the doing of what is fair and right in every separate case.

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

what mentions this? (please help by turning references to this page into wiki links)

This article needs to be merged with Justice (Catholic Encyclopedia).

Simple English

Justice is a concept that means that people behave in a way that is fair, equal and balanced for everyone.

In law

Governments, and especially the police and courts, see that the laws are obeyed in most societies. Because they can punish a person for not obeying the law, most people agree that laws should be fair and the same for everyone. But governments sometimes make laws that many people believe are not just. If many people believe this, people may lose respect for the law and may even disobey it. However, in democratic societies, the law itself has ways to change or get rid of these unjust laws.

Other pages

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address