INTRODUCTION TO POLITICAL THEORY

9. Justice in Different Political Traditions

What ought to be justice is differ from one man to another as well as one culture to another culture. Even within the ancient Greek philosophical tradition, justice is defined in many ways by different thinkers in different context. Amongst them are Plato and Aristotle. According to Plato, justice means giving ‘each individual his due place in the society’ (Strauss, 1987: 47). In other words, platonic justice implies ‘functional specialization’ of different social classes by giving individuals his due place in society. Justice facilitates each individual what he deserves to have. Therefore, the objective of platonic justice is ‘ordering of society’. On the other hand, Aristotle defines justice as ‘virtue’ which regulates proper conducts of society. He so thinks that justice is state of character which makes man disposed to do what is just and makes him acts justly and wishes for what is just. According to Aristotle, justice has three complementary aspects: ‘distributive justice’, ‘rectificatory justice’, and ‘reciprocal justice’. ‘Distributive justice’ implies that a just share must be given on the basis of what one deserves. He argues importance of assigning different criteria of deserving to different people. ‘Rectificatory justice’ aims to repair a wrongful transaction between individuals, voluntarily or involuntarily through which one has gain unfairly. In such a state, judge tries to take away the gains, and restore it to the other party. It is a form of penalty but not necessarily a form of punishment. In such a way, equilibrium is established. On the other hand, reciprocity justice seeks proportionate reciprocity for individual action. (Aristotle, 1999, pp. 71-80.)

To be just is to be lawful and righteous. Law abides us to do what is just and rightful. In modern political vocabulary, justice often refers to the allocation of rights and benefits of citizens through established norms and institutional procedures. A theory of justice, in its simplest form, provides a reasonable ground for regulating distribution and redistribution of benefits and burdens of social co-operation.