Is Justice possible without Morality?

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Is Justice possible without Morality?

Postby Pax Vitae » Fri Dec 13, 2002 6:47 am

After the tread on, “Is morality just something trivial...?”, I’ve been asking myself what is the relationship between Justice and Morality? As its impossible to have Justice without some knowledge of what is Right and Wrong.

The outcome of the above-mentioned tread would seem as follows: “Morality, is only needed wherever there is more then a single person. A person living on a deserted island would have no moral issues with other people. But Morality is more then this; it’s needed in governing conduct in all relationships with other ‘objects’ (these objects could be plants, animals, ecosystem, etc). So, wherever there is interaction between a human and another living thing, morality is involved in guiding acceptable and fair behaviour.”

But what is “Acceptable and fair behaviour,” it could be put that it’s Just behaviour. But what is Just, or should I say Justice?

The Collins Paperback English Dictionary
“Just: What is fair and right.”
“Justice: 1. The quality of being just, 2. The administration of law according to prescribed and accepted principles.”


Justice is normally made up of: The removal of an injustice, followed by punishment equalling the level of the crime committed, and compensation (if applicable) for damages incurred. At first glance this looks a very easy equation to workout. But justice is so complex an issue that it’s impossible to please everybody, as some will always feel they have been treated unfairly, no matter the outcome. I have a couple of lawyer friends and anytime I ask them, how do they see Justice relating to Laws of the State they jokingly reply, “Law brings order, never justice.” I find this a very cynical attitude, but I’m inclined to agree with them, especially when you look at the outcome of some court cases, your left wondering was Justice done.

Most would agree that crime is stopped by the fear of punishment. So if the punishment doesn’t fit the crime it will encourage more crime. Is it possible to have justice once a crime is committed?

Morality only works perfectly in a society were there’s no immorality. When people in society are immoral it can undermine other peoples belief that a moral way of life is the correct way to live. An example, “It’s morally right to give money to help the poor people in society. But if the poor people are going to spend that money on drink or drugs, then giving them money becomes immoral. Or if people are pretending to be poor to extort money from moral people.” This is just one example of how morality can be corrupted and made useless or even immoral by a situation that involves immorality of another. While it’s the right thing to do, it ends up not fulfilling its original intention and so is ineffective.

Is Justice infected by the same problem? Is Justice an idea that only works in an ideal world? Because when people become unjust the Law system of Justice can never rebalance the scales’ of Justice. For crimes like car theft or burglary it’s quite easy to calculate damages and the compensation. But for any of the bigger more serious crimes like murder, sexual abuse, rape. It becomes impossible to compensate people for all the hurt and pain caused by these types of crimes. In effect justice is completely ineffectual with finding any real or moral justice. At an intellectual level I can understand why some Countries have the death penalty for these crimes. But at a moral level is a life for a life Just? I personally believe it’s not. But this is mostly because I don’t believe there is such a thing as Justice beyond the ideal.

When a crime is committed against us the normal reaction is to want revenge. Yet we live in a civil society so are unable to take the law into our own hands. We must use the Law system that’s in place, for better or worse. But as I’ve already said some people don’t find justice in the outcome of the judicial system. Can a person who’s sexually abused or raped ever find Justice? What happens to the hope for Justice with these people? Most I’m sure will be filled with anger and pain, possible hatred for both the system and the person who committed the crime.

This has left me wondering if the reason for forgiveness is to help cope with all the injustice in the world. Could this be the real reason behind what Forgiveness is all about? Forgiveness is not about letting another person get away with it, but to help people emotionally recover from all the injustices they suffer in the world? This may sound overly religious or sentimental, but I don’t believe that there is such a thing as Justice only forgiveness. With forgiveness we can let go of the pain and hurt caused. Put it in the past were it belongs and go on with the rest of our lives, to the best of our ability. While the scar of injustice will always be there, only in forgiveness can we hope to have it healed.

Any thoughts?

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Postby Johan » Sat Dec 14, 2002 1:40 am

Pax Vitae,

From a Philosophical point I'm not separating morality from justice, but now I think that you are referring to how to practically handle a situation of immorality. And because immorality exist we have to face this problem.

For me "justice" is to heal a situation that have gone wrong. Both the victim and the person that committed the crime should take part of this healing. I don't separate victims from those that commit crimes. What we have is a situation that must be corrected so that the total outcome for all parts harmonize with the surrounding. If the system treats immoral people like evil criminals they will build up a stronger identification around this concept.

Is Justice an idea that only works in an ideal world?


Justice can only be real justice when we are capable to see the best possible outcome of the situation we judge. Punishment instead of healing will create further disharmonies for the future, and immorality will grow even more.

Can a person who’s sexually abused or raped ever find Justice?


No; you can never get your old life back again, you can only slowly heal from this. When something have been taken from us in some way we always want to hit back to feel strong again. I think todays justice is built on this. But why do we want to hit back, there is not actually something that is given back to us this way? Did the laws of justice or this impulse come first? Well we only have to look at children to see how they act. Do they act wrong, even though it comes natural to hit back? Or is this something we teach them from the beginning, and it's not natural?

“Law brings order, never justice.”


This is true; the only real justice is if everything is put in place just as it was before the crime took place, this is seldom the case. A compensation can replace what have been taken away; and if the person can continue with his life on this new ground just as if nothing have happen then there is some kind of justice. But this is probably not a major crime. Basically: as long as there is immorality there will not be any good solutions. It's like breaking a window and trying to repair it without changing the whole window. Only real harmony will stop windows from being broken in the first case. Laws are made up from what we imagine to be harmony. I belive harmony is not made up by humans; it's something that can be found in the structure within ourself and in the nature.

All acts of immorality is a collective disease and some people are more vulnerable. We are all possible criminals if the time and place is right. If we really knew each criminals history and what it is that made them act immoral we could get a new perspective, and when we see this we can find forgiveness and healing.

To summarise this: I see a situation that needs healing, and not separate parts. True justice can only be found if the total situation is healed. To punish a person for a crime will stop the healing; and hate will grow on both sides.

One more comment:

While it’s the right thing to do, it ends up not fulfilling its original intention and so is ineffective.


If it's not fulfilling it's original intention it's not the right thing to do. Each situation is unique. We only have static laws because we don't have the resources; knowledge, time, money ETC, to treat each situation like a unique situation. Therefore our shablones are not flexible enough so they can handle all situations so the outcome is the best alternative. Laws of justice is just the practical solution to deal with our limited resources, or limited insight.

Would it not be nice if we could hear a buzzing sound in our head when we are about to act immoral? Maybe this is possible...

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Postby Pax Vitae » Sat Jan 25, 2003 8:54 am

Hi Johan,

Sorry about the delay in the reply, but I needed time to think about this.

Punishment instead of healing will create further disharmonies for the future, and immorality will grow even more.


I agree with you, but I still believe there is need for something that the criminal will fear. As if crime becomes soft and an easy way to cry for help. Then we need to create a less extreme way to cry for help. While I want to see these people helped in a very real way, I still think they should have a punishment fitting the crime.

Would it not be nice if we could hear a buzzing sound in our head when we are about to act immoral? Maybe this is possible...


Hehe, yes it would be nice. We already have perfected the “buzzing thing.” Now if only we could figure out the morality thing. :(




What I was trying to get at with Justice and Morality was: Justice has to do with Laws of the State, while morality has to do with human conduct. Justice is about equality, and rebalancing the scales. Morality is about doing what is morally correct. Some laws might not always seem moral, like the Eye for an Eye type laws. Most of these types of laws no longer exist in most modern legal codes. I would argue that Christian Morality had a large part to play in this. Meaning what makes a good law might not always be the most moral choice available.

So my question should be restated as: If society had no religious morality to guide its creation of laws, what makes laws Just? Or should the Society create its own morality that all should accept, because it’s based off logical propositions, (Like those proposed in the other thread “Is morality just something trivial...?”.) With the authority of religions taking a back seat in the race for peoples minds. What will be used to guide the minds of the people drawing up new laws? Should they aim for perfect equality, or should they allow morality to soften up otherwise hard laws?


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Postby Johan » Sun Jan 26, 2003 6:11 am

Or should the Society create its own morality that all should accept, because it’s based off logical propositions,


I'm sorry if I start to sound a little boring; but all values (if it should be based on truth) have causal connection to a metaphysical ground; substance. If we change metaphysical model our morality will be different. If we make up moral laws in social/collective structures - and those are not based on the metaphysical substance - they are fiction; a game where you can change rules how you want depending on the result you want to reach. If you want to make up your own "game" then you can make up your own rules. If you want the morality to reflect something from the metaphysical substance then you have to discover this substance. It will be the premiere task. If this premiere task can not be achieved then you can never make up any true moral system; only a moral system that serves the purpose of the "game" we have created.

So if you are not interested in the metaphysical aspect then you have to ask yourself what your goal is, and what the collective goal is? After that we can make logical conclusions. BUT in my opinion; a collective goal that does not harmonize with the metaphysical substance and those structures that have their roots there is fiction.

I think that we can agree that all living things must be a part of our moral calculation because all natures aspects affect us when we interact with them. So what is the purpose with this total organism called life? Or is it the value of each individual that counts? We must first decide if the life's process is about individuals developing or if we are dealing with a holistic structure that is developing? If the value of life is holistic in it's nature and it's the total value of the substance that is included in the process then we can build logical moral values that stimulates this development. If it's about individuals developing - "If only my genes survives I can sacrifice all the rest, kind of thing" - then the moral as we see it would not have any real substance. Moral would then be about how to take advantage of processes and how to defeat other individuals.

Let us agree about some basic values that we want to achieve. We can do this without having to agree about the metaphysical ground, as long as the functions of the models are the same. But I can mention my metaphysical ground, it may sound a little controversial:

The substance is a united field. It's holistic in it's character; and the term connection is more relevant to use then individuals. We are all a part of the same process. A brain can be split in several "I", or brains can be connected so they unites (if we had the medical skills. It's easier to cut then to connect). The extreme "I" identification can be "cured" with meditation (or psychedelic drugs) so the focus goes beyond the mental state and become a identification with the total substance. The observer is one, and by shifting focus you become aware about processes that involves other people or individuals. This is normally what we are trying to do with moral systems, but with this shifting focus this knowledge is intuitive. This system can not be called materialistic or idealistic; but it's a synthesis between those two aspects. The dualistic aspects only exist if look at the substance as matter or mind. The classic definition of the term mind requires matter, and vice versa. The metaphysical substance as I identify it can not be placed in those classical terms. This have to be experienced and I would not be able to explain it to myself as if I understood life before I experienced it. The logic is quite different from western traditional logic. Even to a very logical and well mental equipped person the experience will be quite a surprise. I'm saying this because there is more substance to the holistic model then we first think, and it's not neccesary to base altrustic actions on a model that includes a "God". This so called "God" is actually the observer and the observer is one with the holistic field. Individuals exist because of communication limitations in this field. The empty space; or the medium "ether" - that science imagine that light travals via waves - is this field. It's possible that light does not move from one point to another; it's a connection in the field. Observations of the delay that gives the impression that light moves from point A to point B must maybe be recalculated. Graviditation is not a force between bodies; it's not something between bodies that hold them together: Bodies have dynamic positions in the field. It's their natural dynamic position in the same way floating particles take their position in rotating water (OBS: metaphor).

We are bodies moving in this field, we are also forming new shapes from other bodies, this is the reell substance; the only reality that exist. Moral is basically to follow the harmonies this field gives us. To discover this harmony and become one with this process gives us true meaning and pleasure. There is no reality outside this process. Developement outside this process creates disharmony and negative feelings. A constant developement inside this harmony create constant joy because the process will be constant developing. This is why I say that we are not free. The highest freedom we have is to follow this harmony. The only freedom we have is to act without meaning; disharmony.

1. Irrationality. "By this I mean that Satori is not a conclusion to be reached by reasoning, and defies all intellectual determination. Those who have experienced it are always at a loss to explain it coherently or logically."

2. Intuitive Insight. "That there is noetic quality in mystic experiences has been pointed out by (William) James...Another name for Satori is Kensho (chien-hsing in Chinese) meaning "to see essence or nature," which apparently proves that there is "seeing" or "perceiving" in Satori...Without this noetic quality Satori will lose all its pungency, for it is really the reason of Satori itself. "

3. Authoritativeness. "By this I mean that the knowledge realized by Satori is final, that no amount of logical argument can refute it. Being direct and personal it is sufficient unto itself. All that logic can do here is to explain it, to interpret it in connection to other kinds of knowledge with which our minds are filled. Satori is thus a form of perception, an inner perception, which takes place in the most interior part of consciousness.

4. Affirmation. "What is authoritative and final can never be negative. Though the Satori experience is sometimes expressed in negative terms, it is essentially an affirmative attidude towards all things that exist; it accepts them as they come along regardless of their moral values."

5. Sense of the Beyond. "...in Satori there is always what we may call a sense of the Beyond; the experience indeed is my own but I feel it to be rooted elsewhere. The individual shell in which my personality is so solidly encased explodes at the moment of Satori. Not, necessarily, that I get unified with a being greater than myself or absorbed in it, but that my individuality, which I found rigidly held together and definitely kept separate from other individual existences, becomes lossened somehow from its tightening grip and melts away into something indescribable, something which is of quite a different order from what I am accustomed to. The feeling that follows is that of complete release or a complete rest---the feeling that one has arrived finally at the destination...As far as the psychology of Satori is considered, a sense of the Beyond is all we can say about it; to call this the Beyond, the Absolute, or God, or a Person is to go further than the experience itself and to plunge into a theology or metaphysics.(see #5 above)"

6. Impersonal Tone. "Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the Zen experience is that it has no personal note in it as is observable in Christian mystic experiences."

7. Feeling of exaltation. "That this feeling inevitably accompanies Satori is due to the fact that it is the breaking-up of the restriction imposed on one as an individual being, and this breaking up is not a mere negative incident but quite a positive one fraught with signification because it means an infinite expansion of the individual."

8. Momentariness. "Satori comes upon one abruptly and is a momentary experience. In fact, if it is not abrupt and momentary, it is not Satori.


So moral laws follows secondary on the purpose of the process. Premiere is the purpose and what it includes. First let's discover this, or at least agree about a model.

Johan
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