Real Justice: Goodness without Limit

thinking about what justice must really be this July 4th

Photo by LOGAN WEAVER on Unsplash

Do you think it would be good to have an absolutely equal distribution of money… property… everything? If not, then for you (as for this author) equality is a limited concept. (Even it that were desirable, it is not feasible.)

Do you think it would be good for all people to be allowed to do absolutely anything they wanted to do? If not, then for you (as for this author) liberty needs to have limits placed on it.

The ethic of real justice is (most briefly) mutual respect in effecting choices (choosing among perceived alternatives and taking action to bring that choice to fruition). In other words, everyone must take into account all people who are involved any time anyone is trying to accomplish, achieve, acquire, etc. anything. It applies to all choices in which other people are involved — personal, business, and political.

So the ethic of real justice yields one great law: no one may co-opt any other person in effecting any choice. That is, anyone’s involvement in that process, as ends or means, must be both voluntary and sufficiently informed.

That great law yields three general prohibitions on conduct regarding other people whenever a choice is being effected: no coercing people, no manipulating people, and no ignoring people who are involved in that process.

Those three general prohibitions are effectively contained in a handful of specific prohibitions (broadly construed): no killing, harming, coercing, lying, cheating, or stealing in the process of effecting any choice.

In the other direction, respecting others has no limit. It needs no limits placed on it. Applying the ethic of real justice to life would therefore be unlimited goodness.

Equality implies mutual respect; real justice requires mutual respect, creating the maximum liberty everyone can share.

It is perfectly good to accept for oneself that the ethic of real justice is valid and should apply to everyone based on a belief in human equality, whether that belief is secular or part of one’s religious beliefs. The problem is that no one else can be expected to, much less (justly) required to abide by any ethic based on any belief of any other person. That is why the ethic of justice must be strictly rational, with no beliefs of any kind involved in it.

Such is the ethic of real justice. It can be arrived at in 10 steps:

[“Effecting choices” is the large but finite domain of justice, the realm of human endeavor within which people must be governed by the requirement of mutual respect. Outside that domain people can only be governed by personal morality.]

One can go here for a brief (“5 min read,” in Medium) summary including the further implications of real justice for society; mutual respect as the ethic of justice is arrived at from a belief in equality here. The case for mutual respect as the ethic of justice, from intuition to a belief in equality to ‘real justice’ to taking into account the postmodern perspective is summarized here.

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Stephen Yearwood

unaffiliated, non-ideological, unpaid: M.A. in political economy (where philosophy and economics intersect) with a focus in money/distributive justice