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What is Justice?

The history and interpretations of justice.

“Justice is generally understood to mean what is right, fair, appropriate, deserved. Justice is achieved when an unjust act is redressed and the victim feels whole again. Justice also means the offender is held accountable for his behavior.” – source

The Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.

The idea of justice can range from the biblical notion of an eye for an eye to the idea that when the Exxon Valdez dumped millions of barrels of oil along the Alaskan coastline that the company should pay the residents punitive damages for destroying their way of life.

What is Justice?

“Justice, in a functional form, is the idea that, within the same value scope (e.g. moral, ethical, etc) of the infringement, those who commit a wrong in a value system are entitled to receive a similar or related amount of action within the same system/means, and that receipt is except from being considered wrong. Given this, we can understand justice as being a form of societal defense mechanism, allowing a society to purge itself of elements it does not accept without running into problems of the legitimacy of the purge.”- source

Yet despite the basic idea that most people have of justice, it is different in different circumstances for different people.

In general, justice is meant more for the society as a whole than for the individual victims because it is designed to prove repeatedly that people are safe within their society. They can feel that if they ever are victims of crimes, the criminals will be caught, tried and punished. It gives the victim closure, but in a larger sense, it gives society closure of a particular chapter and allows the people within the society to move ahead in their lives feeling they are safe, that even if not all is well, criminals are caught and removed from the streets.

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User Comments
  1. juliet

    On October 29, 2008 at 5:31 am

    thanks for the great info on justice!

    just what i needed for my legal studies assignment :)

    cheers, Juli

  2. Kira

    On March 5, 2009 at 10:23 am

    this is a very good site

  3. Jacy

    On March 5, 2009 at 10:24 am

    JUSTICE RULES!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Daniel

    On March 5, 2009 at 10:25 am


  5. Socy berty

    On March 5, 2009 at 10:27 am

    Thanks for the great info It was just what i needed to pass my test

  6. shae

    On March 9, 2009 at 10:14 am

    he he he he he he he he wo hoooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

  7. lauren

    On March 10, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    This is a great perspective. Justice is a common ground, yet how we define it isn’t. Yes, it does differ from person to person, but within people we can generalize. You have the view of the victims. but Justice just wasn’t made for the victim. It was made for all people (I say all people, however i can only go to the extent to which the UN declaration extends.) But rather what I’m trying to say is, good job summarizing the views of the victim. But what is a criminal’s idea of justice or the families for either group. What about politicians. or the taxpayers who pay to have their idea of justice enforced by the government. or police officers and judges, the enforcers. or the average public who become the jurors. And how does each group decide “what is right, fair, appropriate, or deserved.” To find justice we have to know what is everyone’s definition? What is fairness? or and even bigger question, what is right? Its when we listen attentively to others, gather a multiplicity of views, and make a decision with an open heart and mind, do we truly have even a glimpse of what justice is. or any value for that matter. In reality, the world is too diverse and complicated that knowing the true nature for any value is impossible when its just based on people themselves. Now, I have no credentials, nor that much life experience. I’m only a college student in a interpersonal communication and conflict resolution with integrated ethics class. I barely know the world, but what I’m finding is that it is too big to be classified exactly. Therefore if we do try to give a definition of a world view we have to give them all. Every vioce and every person counts in a world that is based off human interaction and connection.


    On April 1, 2009 at 5:46 am

    Brilliant info ,thanks a lot .

  9. ofentse

    On April 18, 2009 at 6:59 am

    this site gave me a an insight and light on what justice is, the definition is simplified to afford researchers (especially students) a better understanding of the concept justice.

  10. dreadyboy

    On May 19, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    helped a lot for grade 10 english essay

  11. Naseha Mushtaq

    On August 13, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    MADE A GREAT ASSIGNMENT, THANK YOU! and made me look at some fields with a different perspectiveve. thank you very much..!

  12. nily

    On September 27, 2009 at 11:28 am

    helped a lot on my civics paper

  13. Lucrecia

    On October 28, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    I agree with Lauren. well said.

  14. awokson

    On October 6, 2010 at 9:23 am

    Its true it means different thing to different people, it can never be universally defined with this fact on ground. but in a stricter sense of it, it is a nice virtue, the only thing here is, it can’t exist in this world. what a perfect place this world will be if only a good fragment of justice is observed. oh my dearest justice, we shall see you fully at the reign of Christ.

  15. zakiya

    On April 22, 2012 at 11:54 am

    Dis is really gud I kno it did nt help me much I still love it

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