Every developed society recognizes the fact that the peaceful running of such a society essentially requires an order. Consequently, there is a need to have an established system that curtails the excesses of man. A system that is fair yet does not compromise its principles, a system that upholds equity in judgment, a system that lacks sentiments and respects no gender, status or age. This system is the system of justice.
Justice is blind – this has been a lifelong saying. This is informed from the statue that depicts the basic feature of justice. Justice as a concept involves different principles. Justice should be objective and should treat each person as an end in themselves. The statue of law shows that justice strives for equity and fairness in its judgment. Apart from these, justice is blind. It is no respecter of persons or status. She holds a sword in her hand which signifies her power and that she is ready to mete judgment in the appropriate measure that the offender deserves.
A closely related term that many people confuse with justice is morality. By definition, morality talks about rightness and wrongness. Its scope reaches the area or what is right, how we should act in the society, what is required of the citizens of a state and what should be acceptable or frowned at by the society. As opposed to law, morality preaches what should be done in the society. We ca say that morality is rather subjective as there is no universal way of measuring morality. Apart from this, morality is not the same, it is not universally acceptable or fixed like in the case of law.
However, it has been an issue of scholastic discussion the issue of how justice and morality/ethics relate. It should be noted that the concept of justice does not necessarily validate the concept of morality. What justice approves of is different from what is considered moral or ethical. What morality preaches are not at all times provided for by the justice system. This has raised a lot of questions by scholars and philosophers engaged in moral or ethical debate. At this point, it becomes imperative to identify and highlight the difference that exists between the concept of justice and the concept of morality.
In the concept of justice, what is just is informed by the provisions of the law. Therefore, the justice system has been criticized to be restricted in nature. Essentially, there is a difference between what is legal and what is moral. Although there are some provisions under the law that frowns at immoral acts, we can not claim that morality is the basis of law. As a result of this, we can say that all illegal actions are immoral but not all immoral actions are illegal. The justice and court system is guided by the law and its operation is guided by the provisions of the law.
Furthermore, it becomes an issue subject to questioning that the justice system allows for men to judge men. As expected, morality claims that all men are equal and that it becomes questionable to say that some people are place in the position and entrusted with the power to mete judgment on his fellow man. Some philosophers believe that this idea in the concept of justice is faulty and should be reviewed. Man, as they say should not be in the position to judge his fellow man because they are the same.
In addition to this, philosophers and scholars alike have questioned the reality of the objectivity of the justice system. Given the nature of man, it is almost impossible to be totally objective as the reality of this is questionable. The definition of the concept of law does notc9nsider some basic characteristic of man. As human beings, we are have emotions, personal beliefs and preconceived ideas and perspective by which we se things. It becomes morally questionable and an issue far from being possible to imagine that the extent of punishments of an offender should be decided by judge, who might have a conflicting opinion about the case before him. An example is the case where the judge presiding over a case involving a gay is conservative. In such a case, the judge can be biased because he of his/her position or belief about homosexuals. This is one of the issues that have raised questions in ethics because several innocent people have been victims in courts as a result of the Judge’s biased opinion.
Furthermore, another area in the judicial system that has been questionable is retributive law. This area of law has enjoyed the attention of several scholars and philosophers. To begin with, the idea that offenders should be punished raises a moral question. Some people believe that two “wrongs do not make a right” and that retributive punishment contradicts itself. For one, it is rather impossible and far from reality to know the exact measure of punishment fit for a particular offence. Some people have also argued that punishment violates morality as it undermines the value of humanity. These set of people believe that there is a problem in justifying the killing of another man as this is tantamount to murder.
In the concept of justice, any action that is not provided for by the law is not illegal. This can be further explained by the fact that as long as there is no proven evidence against a suspect, even though some things point towards the person, the suspect can not be charged guilty. There have been several reported cases of people who actually commit some terrible crimes but walked away because of this rule in the concept of justice.
In conclusion, the justice system have also discovered that it is impossible to always mete out the appropriate judgment as there is the possibility of mistakes. Perhaps this is what has made the justice system to be fashioned in a way that a person can appeal for a judgment that is passed by a judge. To conceive of a completely flawless judicial system is to be living in a world filled with myths and fairy tales. However, this does not give the judges the right to intentionally display partiality in their judgment. The concept of justice stands essentially to guide the operation of the judicial system, therefore, if the values and rules of ultimate impartiality can not be achieved, the judicial system should strive to and consciously uphold such values as fairness.
·Gauthier D, Morals by Agreement (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986).