What exactly is justice? According to Velasquez, we can view justice as the fairness within a punishment or the fairness in which society itself “distributes benefits and burdens” (p. 538). The nature of justice is seen as whether a person should compromise with being just and be “good” while suffering through the injustice without being able to fight back or to become injustice and be considered “evil” while not being punished. There are different views on what justice is along with two different principles.
The first principle of justice is established that each person should have their liberty as long as everyone is receiving the same ones and they are not harming others. With this justice, it is giving people their freedom of speech and religion and their right to privacy. The second principle of justice is stating that inequalities should be made available and be at the same advantage as everyone else. This principle is justifying the nature of some people having more money as long as others are being offered the same opportunity to work towards that money.
There are two types of value, instrumental value, and intrinsic value. Within the work done by Plato, The Republic Book II there is the theory of justice being instrumentally good. With justice as instrumental, we are looking at desire for the sake of other goods instead of its own sake. For example, a thing that is instrumentally valued by many is money. Money can be seen as simple printed paper or metal however, it has more attached to it.
For people, money provides them with security and the ability to purchase a variety of things that are needed or wanted. When justice is intrinsically valuable it means that something is valuable for its own sake. Within Socrates, he sees justice as not only instrumental but also intrinsically valuable. With justice being both instrumental and intrinsic it means that people are just not only because it brings them pleasure but it also has a great outcome.
When an appraisal is subjective it means that it is being influenced by a person’s feelings, opinions, and taste. However, when it is objective it’s not being influenced by feelings and justice could be aimed towards simple status and authority. Justice can be seen as either objective or subjective depending on your perspective and the reasons for being just and using justice. When we are looking at justice as an intrinsic value then it has an objective appraisal to it since people are seeing justice for its outcome and not for what it is. Justice and authority have an objective assessment since the main goal within authority is to offer the best justice in order to benefit the most people from within the community.
The Republic Book II begins with Glaucon talking with Socrates and offering his point of view on what he thinks is justice. Glaucon believes that justice is an inevitable evil and it comes from within a person’s own weaknesses. He thinks that men will commit injustice acts against others without fearing any consequences. However, men will also avoid being treated wrongfully by others without having the opportunity to retaliate proving that justice is instrumental however not desired for its own purpose. For him people make themselves accountable of justice and laws because they have the fear of receiving injustice after they are unable escape the injustice they have committed. In Book II Glaucon states “men who practice [sic] justice do so against their will, of necessity, but not as a good,” (p. 9) with this being said, people do not act just because it will help them, they simply act just because they could be worse without it. For example, if a just person is given the key to the city and is allowed to do whatever they please without being punished, that just person will then act unjustly without fearing any consequences. It is showing that no matter the person and how justly they prove to be they will act unjustly if they don’t fear punishment and find it more profitable than justice itself.
While Glaucon concludes that justice comes from the social contract Socrates disagrees and states that men are already just and they are simply complying with the social contract. Socrates thinks justice best fits under the type of good that everyone does for their sake and because they receive something in return. Socrates’ view on justice is supporting justice as an intrinsic value. He believes that justice is a state of an appropriate soul and the men complying with justice allows them to be happy. With this being said he is rejecting the fact that social contract is impacting justice.
Adeimantus, Glaucon’s brother, agrees with Glaucon’s statement about justice, however, he feels that his brother is missing a point. While Glaucon focused on individuals and different ways to justice, Adeimantus put his focus on the community and education. Adeimantus adds to the argument that people are just simply for the benefits they receive proving justice is simply intrinsically good. He believed that the nature of justice is poorly taught and depicted by both parents and within the literature. When it comes to justice being taught by parents, the parents are teaching their kids to be just, but they are using this teaching to prove that better things come from being just like their reputation and money. With children gaining this understanding of justice from their parents they start believing that having an advantage in life is important and at one point they will perform unjust actions and realize they have the ability to escape without consequences. Along with the reputation people gain from being just, Adeimantus adds that people are just due to their fear of their afterlife. He believes that people show justice because they have what the gods to reward instead of being punished for their unjust actions. Overall, Adeimantus is proving that even if people are proving to be “just” they are still unjust because their actions are self-interested and only focusing on their outcomes of reputation and their afterlife.
After viewing the dispute between Glaucon, Socrates and Adeimantus I agree would have to agree with Adeimantus. Personally, I believe being a just person should revolve his/her actions on the impact it is impacting instead of how those positive actions make them look. When we look at today’s society we see large numbers of videos within social media glorifying helping the less fortunate. Automatically one would think that person is great and amazing for helping people, however, when you look at it from the social media influencers’ point of view they are showing off their good deed in order to gain followers and prove to everyone they are a just and good person. I believe that no matter the person or how just they are, whenever they are doing a good they always have the “this will help me out in the future” idea within themselves. For example, when a person does a good action it is common for others to tell them “God will repay you” or “something better will happen in your future for being a good person” proving that people have the idea of a good action will lead to a better outcome within their lives whether through karma or spiritually.