THE CONCEPT OF JUSTICE
One major concern in the era of philosophy has been the question of social order of man’s existence. Central to this quest about the ideal mode of man’s existence is the problem of justice.
WHAT IS JUSTICE
Justice is a concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, religion, equity and fairness. It has been argued that ‘systematic’ or ‘programmatic’ political and moral philosophy in the West begins, in Plato’s Republic, with the question, ‘What is Justice?’ According to most contemporary theories of justice, justice is overwhelmingly important: John Rawls claims that “Justice is the first virtue of social institutions, as truth is of systems of thought.” In classical approaches, evident from Plato through to Rawls, the concept of ‘justice’ is always construed in logical or ‘etymological’ opposition to the concept of injustice. Such approaches cite various examples of injustice, as problems which a theory of justice must overcome. A number of post-World War II approaches do, however, challenge that seemingly obvious dualism between those two concepts. Justice can be thought of as distinct from benevolence, charity, prudence, mercy, generosity, or compassion, although these dimensions are regularly understood to also be interlinked. Justice is the concept of cardinal virtues, of which it is one. 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 is thus historically and culturally inalienable.
Social justice is the ability people have to realize their potential in the society where they live. Classically, “justice” (especially corrective justice or distributive justice) referred to ensuring that individuals both fulfilled their societal roles, and received what was due from society. “Social justice” is generally used to refer to a set of institutions which will enable people to lead a fulfilling life and be active contributors to their community. The goal of social justice is generally the same as human development. The relevant institutions can include education, health care, social security, labour rights, as well as a broader system of public services, progressive taxation and regulation of markets, to ensure fair distribution of wealth, equality of opportunity, and no gross inequality of outcome.
While the concept of social justice can be traced through Ancient and Renaissance philosophy, such as Socrates, Thomas Aquinas, Spinoza and Thomas Paine, the term “social justice” only became used explicitly from the 1840s. A Jesuit priest named Luigi Taparelli is typically credited with coining the term, and it spread during the revolutions of 1848 with the work of Antonio Rosmini-Serbati. In the late industrial revolution, progressive American legal scholars began to use the term more, particularly Louis Brandeis and Roscoe Pound. From the early 20th century it was also embedded in international law and institutions, starting with the Treaty of Versailles 1919. The preamble to establish the International Labour Organization recalled that “universal and lasting peace can be established only if it is based upon social justice.” In the later 20th century, social justice was made central to the philosophy of the social contract, primarily by John Rawls in A Theory of Justice (1971). In 1993, the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action treats social justice as a purpose of the human rights education.
The ongoing debate into the concept of social justice serves to tell us the extent to which philosophers have formulated principles aimed at prescribing how the human society should be organized.the results has been a variety of approaches and solutions proffered for consideration and choice as to how social harmony can be promoted.