The Philosophical Theory of Law and Justice
The question of what is justice and what is unjust has been debated by philosophers for centuries. There is no unanimous decision on the matter and it remains a very complex and disputable issue. In this essay, I will be discussing the philosophical theory of law and justice, and the problem of crime and justice. I will be looking at Plato’s Republic and how it defines justice. I will also be discussing the three pillars of justice: courage, discipline, and wisdom. Finally, I will be looking at the notion of justice in Athens.
2. The Notion of Justice
The notion of justice is a complex and contested one. There is no single definition of justice that is universally accepted. Philosophers have offered various definitions of justice over the years, but there is still no consensus on what it actually is.
The word ‘justice’ comes from the Latin word ‘jus’, which means ‘right’ or ‘law’. So, one possible definition of justice is that it is whatever is lawful or right. But what is lawful or right can vary from place to place and from time to time. What was considered lawful in ancient Greece may not be considered lawful today. And what is considered lawful in one country may not be considered lawful in another.
Another possible definition of justice is that it is whatever promotes the common good. This was the view of Aristotle, who said that “justice is the virtue which gives each man his due” (Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics). According to this view, an unjust act is one that fails to promote the common good, while a just act is one that does promote it.
A third possible definition of justice is that it is whatever treats people equally or fairly. This was the view of John Rawls, who said that “justice is the first virtue of social institutions” (Rawls, A Theory of Justice). According to Rawls, an unjust act is one that treats people unfairly, while a just act is one that treats them fairly.
These are just some of the many possible definitions of justice. As you can see, there is a lot of disagreement about what justice actually is. This disagreement arises because there are many different ways to think about justice, and no one view is necessarily right or wrong. It all depends on how you define it.
3. The Problem of Crime and Justice
One problem that arises from this lack of agreement about the definition of justice is the problem of crime and justice. When someone commits a crime, we often ask whether they deserve to be punished for their actions. But this question can only be answered if we know what justice actually is. And as we have seen, there is no agreement on this matter.
Some people might argue that criminals deserve to be punished because their actions have caused harm to others and/or society as a whole. Others might argue that criminals do not deserve to be punished because their actions are a result of their own personal circumstances (e.g., they were raised in a disadvantaged environment). And still others might argue that criminals should not be punished at all because punishment itself is unjust (e.g., it violates their human rights). As you can see, there are many different ways to think about the issue of crime and justice, and there is no easy answer to the question of what is just and what is unjust.
4. Plato’s Republic and the Definition of Justice
One of the most famous discussions of justice can be found in Plato’s Republic. In this work, Plato discusses the nature of justice and how it relates to the good life. He argues that justice is a virtue that is necessary for a good life, but he also says that it is very difficult to define.
Plato begins by asking what justice is. He asks several people for their opinions, but none of them are able to give a satisfactory answer. Socrates, the main character in the dialogue, then offers his own definition of justice. He says that justice is “doing one’s own business and not being a busybody” (Republic 441d). In other words, Socrates says that a just person is someone who mind their own business and does not try to meddle in the affairs of others.
This definition is met with some resistance from the other characters in the dialogue. They argue that Socrates’ definition is too narrow and that it does not take into account the fact that some people are more capable than others. Socrates then tries to address these objections by expanding his definition of justice. He says that justice is “the art which gives each man his due” (Republic 443e). In other words, Socrates now says that a just person is someone who gives each person what they deserve.
This expanded definition of justice seems to satisfy the other characters in the dialogue. But it also raises a new problem: how do we know what each person deserves? This question leads to a long discussion about the nature of human beings and the best way to live one’s life. In the end, Socrates concludes that justice is “the quality which makes good men good and bad men bad” (Republic 607b). In other words, Socrates says that justice is a virtue that makes people good or bad, depending on whether they have it or not.
5. Courage, Discipline and Wisdom as the Three Pillars of Justice
In Plato’s Republic, Socrates argues that justice is a virtue that consists of three things: courage, discipline, and wisdom. Courage, he says, is “the quality which gives each man his due” (Republic 443e). Discipline is “the art which gives each man his due” (Republic 443e). And wisdom is “the quality which makes good men good and bad men bad” (Republic 607b). These three things are what make up a just person, according to Socrates.
Courage, discipline, and wisdom are also sometimes referred to as the “three pillars of justice”. This is because they are seen as being essential for a just society. A society without these three things would be unjust and chaotic.
6. Justice in Athens
The city of Athens was one of the most famous examples of a just society in antiquity. This was largely due to the fact that Athens had laws which were based on notions of equality and fairness. Residents of Athens were treated equally regardless of their social status or wealth. And Athenian laws were designed to protect the rights of all citizens, not just the wealthy or powerful.
One of the most famous laws in Athens was the law of equality, which stated that all citizens were equal before the law. This meant that everyone, regardless of their social status, was entitled to the same legal rights and protections. The law of equality was a groundbreaking law at the time, and it helped to make Athens a more just society.
Another famous law in Athens was the law of universal suffrage, which stated that all citizens were allowed to vote in elections. This meant that everyone, regardless of their social status, had a say in how their city was governed. The law of universal suffrage was another groundbreaking law at the time, and it helped to make Athens a more just society.
In conclusion, the philosophical theory of law and justice is a complex and contested issue. There is no single definition of justice that is universally accepted. And the problem of crime and justice is a difficult one to solve. Plato’s Republic offers a definition of justice, but it is not without its criticisms. Courage, discipline, and wisdom are three important pillars of justice. And the city of Athens was one of the most famous examples of a just society in antiquity.