What is Justice?

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In the broadest sense, justice can be defined as the implementation of what is right, appropriate and deserved. It is a sense of moral uprightness, and the struggle to keep a balanced system of performance and reward, as well as crime and punishment.

Justice is usually depicted as the Lady Justice, mostly seen in courthouses, whose figure is actually based on a female goddess. Justice is illustrated as a lady with a sword, which depicts the court’s ability to draw truth; scales, which represents fairness and equality; and blindfolds to represent the system’s objectivity and impartiality.

Justice is the fulfillment of the sense that people must get what they deserve. It could be a positive situation wherein a man will split his lottery winnings with the friend who suggested the winning combination. Or, it could be in the negative, as in what punishment is meted out for a homicide case, with claims of self-defense.

American Philosopher John Rawls stated one of the most memorable illustrations of justice in his book ‘A Theory of Justice’, the illustration of a ‘veil of ignorance’. The veil of ignorance serves as a moral guide for a certain issues, encouraging people to think about being behind it. Take the subject of segregation for instance. Under the veil of ignorance, you will not know what color your skin will be after the veil has been lifted. Will you then encourage segregation? This illustration portrays justice wherein situations must be looked at from all sides.

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