INTRODUCTION TO POLITICAL THEORY

2. Introduction

Justice has been most important concepts in political philosophy since immemorial times. The concept has been defined in various ways by different thinkers in different political tradition. Meaning of justice also varies from people to people depending upon their conditions, expectation and actual realization. For example, internally displaced persons may expect proper rehabilitation from the authority. Similarly, victims of racial violence would demand adequate compensation as well as apology from the perpetrator, if not punishment. On other hand, in cases of sexual violence against women, society will want punishment to the violator and rehabilitation to the victim. However in social science, justice implies to distribution of ‘resources such as wealth, opportunity and privilege in a society. Multiple meaning of justice is also interpreted in various philosophical traditions. In Ancient Greek, justice means regulating role and functions of various social classes in the society. For Plato, it was ‘functional specialization’. Following Platonic notion of wellordered society, Aristotle defined justice as ‘virtue’ which regulates proper conducts of society’. (Aristotle, 1999: pp. 71-80) In modern political vocabulary, justice often refers to the allocation of rights and benefits of citizens through established norms and institutional procedures. In general parlance, the concept however is interpreted as ‘fairness’, ‘righteousness’ and ‘morally correct or goodness’. Shortly, a theory of justice, in its simplest form, provides a reasonable ground for regulating distribution of rewards and punishment in society. So, purpose of pursuing justice is to bring a ‘good society’. A ‘good society’ is considered as just society. The concept of justice is an ‘essentially contested’ concept, however the concept is generally understood as distribution of rewards or punishment according to what she or he is due to.