The Theory of Justice
Chris H. Grollnek
The theory of justice is philosophical in scope and follows a structure of basic human principles. Three mentioned in this essay include Utilitarianism, Justice as Fairness, and Libertarianism. Utilitarianism seeks to define justice derived from happiness and determines that happiness is not a measurable standard. To define the theory, discussions of indirect measurements are laid out for evaluation. Justice as Fairness discusses principles as choice in contrast to those that would be outright “unfair.” Abiding by established rights and principles establishes fairness for society for persons desiring to abide by established laws. Libertarianism follows the philosophy of free will and choice. Although restriction of freedoms exists, people could choose one way or another through acceptance or rejection. Purpose and intent of human acceptance along with tolerance assist in identifying the three. By extrapolating the principles between the three show each theory for its unique purpose. Objectively looking at modern criminal justice agencies and private security organizations provides the opportunity to relate theories of justice between the two groups.
Three Theories of Justice
Three theories of justice discussed in this essay include; Utilitarianism, Justice as Fairness, and Libertarianism. Utilitarianism is a measurement of just within a society calculating the average of happiness within its members. Unable to commence a scientific study to measure happiness within societies, utilitarian’s take an incidental approach for an indirect measurement.
Illinois State University, College of Arts & Sciences Information Technology (2007) states:
“The traditional idea at this point is to rely upon (a) a theory of the human good (i.e., of what is good for human beings, of what is required for them to flourish) and (b) an account of the social conditions and forms of organization essential to the realization of that good.” (p. 1)
The lack of understanding to a socially acceptable answer of happiness directly relates to human nature. People by nature share different opinions as their individual experiences curb their views on topics such as the most attractive lifestyle. Utilitarianism suggests that the correlation of societies just standing is directly in line with the laws and institutions that sponsor general happiness. Basic needs, however, are found within theories of justice. Ensuring a person’s emotional and physical comfort rely on specific essentials. Food, shelter, medical care, protection, and companionship are a select group of basic needs for human well-being.
The establishment of the basics is a starting point for minimum requirements for quality of life. Utilitarianism promotes happiness by ensuring the basic needs of humanity are met therefore outlining a map to gain a just society. Wealth, prosperity, civil and political liberties, are also requirements for a just society and need to be a factor. John Stuart Mill, “argued that freedom or liberty, both political and economic, were indispensable requisites for happiness” (Illinois State University, 2007).
Justice as Fairness
Justice as Fairness theory suggests that only just or fair principles are acceptable. John Rawls, a former philosopher and theorist, offers alternate views to Utilitarianism. Rawls believes that morale people possess both a sense of good and a sense of justice that they can act on as a principle rather than emotion (Banks, 2009, p. 345).
Rawls hypothetical scenario is complex and incorporates several concepts far too in-depth for this essay. To sum up the principle of Rawls theory of Justice as Fairness, people from their raw moral fiber want to look after others as they look after themselves. This will establish the fairness mark and assist in determining mankind’s choice for fairness. Basic human rights and freedoms assist in establishing fairness, following an outline such as the Bill of Rights would be prudent for fairness. People choose fairness for the perception of happiness as their choice in the matter because it has a significant impact on the rationale. People who abide within legal boundaries make a conscious decision to do so exercising their choice (Illinois State University, 2007).
The spirit of Libertarianism is virtually a free will philosophy. The free will view asserts that people are rational and have an internal sense of freedom of will. People who act upon free will must be held accountable for their actions whether right or wrong. By having the freedom of choice, people can essentially control themselves and make appropriate choices. When circumstances dictate situations that deny freedoms, these do not inhibit the person’s ability to continue to make “good” decisions. Persons forced into situations against their will still possess the ability to make basic decisions. One argument for Libertarianism is a situation outside of a person’s normal control, which can continue to be influenced by that person. Souryal stated; “Consequently, we should be able to rationally accept, reject, or alter all options available to us” (Souryal, 2007, p. 40).
Discussing these principles outlines differences of opinion, which are open for discussion. Traditional Utilitarianism suggests a just societies responsibility or mission is to provide a state of happiness. Justice as Fairness and Libertarianism, although separate by their own right, share the belief that justice stems from other measures. Removing happiness from within the theory of justice in these two philosophies demonstrates alternate priorities for a just society. Extracting the meaning of these theories is difficult to interpret as absolute; however, understanding their intent is possible.
Justice Defined by Modern Criminal Justice Agencies Versus Security Organizations
The roles and responsibilities of public policing have been evolving for hundreds of years. As theories of justice have evolved, the people are responsible for determining the appropriate protection measures. Public policing practices originated from private citizens volunteering in their communities as watchmen during the evening hours demonstrating their choice for security. Private police officers continue to play a protection role in their duties within the scope of Libertarianism. Public officers are held to a standard of enforcement within their oath curbing their roles to a Justice as Fairness model. Individuals base decisions on logic as well as emotional thought processes inclusive of their needs, desires, and environment allowing free will to dictate actions. Both public and private officers exercise their own choices to respond to most situations. This example of Libertarianism sums up modern justice from both perspectives of public and private police organizations (Frase & Weidner, 2011).
Justice as Fairness demands the discussion of incarceration for members of society who choose to dismiss acting as good stewards of their communities. Regardless of what research shows, punishment through confinement is more viable to criminal justice. The unknown of what absolutely “works” in correctional treatment is similar to what specific theory best defines justice. If the answer is that the fundamental purpose of incarceration is punishment for criminal behavior, not correction, Fairness in Justice remains on point.
A common belief through the decades was that a scientific method was capable to solve social issues and assist in sentencing or rehabilitation. Although objective, the absence of individual treatment capabilities for incarcerated criminals did not allow the study to be factual. The conclusion is there is no known method to rehabilitate offenders. Stating this fact, Libertarianism is a key theory to understanding the need for incarceration as offenders made the choice to make poor decisions. Support of the studies of reform came from both civil libertarians and conservatives. The individual aspect of sentencing has been replaced by the “justice model” that determines the length of incarceration based on the severity of the crime (Logan & Gaes, 1993, p. 2).
The modern version of justice is the ability to provide protection, enforcement, and prevention. This modern day Utilitarian principle of basic necessities for well-being are clearly throw backs from the inception of this theory. Although the Utilitarian philosophy sets a common standard for todays needs, Justice as Fairness is important to mention. People generally know right from wrong and want to chose the appropriate path for cohabitating. Libertarianism in modern times is the most comparable to the original theory as free will dictates the majority’s actions.
Banks, C. (2009). Criminal Justice Ethics: Theory and Practice (2nd ed.) (p.345). Thousand
Oaks, CA: Sage Publications
Frase, R.S. & Weidner, R.R. (2011). Criminal Justice System – Structural and Theoretical
Components of Criminal Justice Systems, The Systems in Operation, The Importance of Viewing Criminal Justice as a System. Retrieved from http://law.jrank.org/pages/858/Criminal-Justice-System.html
Illinois State University, College of Arts & Sciences Information Technology. (2007). Three
Theories of Justice: Utilitarianism, Justice as Fairness, and Libertarianism. Retrieved from http://lilt.ilstu.edu/pefranc/3-ts%20of%20justice.htm
Logan, C.H. & Gaes, G.G. (1993, June). Meta-Analysis and The Rehabilitation of Punishment.
Justice Quarterly, 10(2). Retrieved from http://www.bop.gov/news/research_projects/published_reports/cond_envir/oreprlogangaes.pdf
Souryal, S.S. (2007). Ethics in Criminal Justice in Search of the Truth (p. 40).
Newark, NJ: Matthew Bender & Company, Inc.
Filed under The Theory of Justice Masters Series by Chris Grollnek #activeshooterexpert file#7845 / 2011