Justice - Research Article from Encyclopedia of Philosophy

This encyclopedia article consists of approximately 23 pages of information about Justice.
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Conduct-Guiding Function

The predicates "just" and "unjust" have not merely an evaluative but also a normative—hence conductguiding—function. Calling a possible action or law unjust is to oppose its implementation. To be sure, people do make justice judgments about the distant past, about hypotheticals and fiction. But even these judgments imply oughts—for example: that the Athenians ought not to have attacked neutral Melos; that it would have been all right for them to attack a Melos allied with Sparta; or that Angelo (in Shakespeare's Measure for Measure) ought not to have demanded Isabella's virginity for the life of her brother.

The words "rational" and "irrational" are also conduct-guiding in this sense. Yet there is a difference. Whether an action is rational or irrational depends on the ends of the actor. Whether it is just or unjust is independent of these ends. Insofar as even...

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This section contains 6,616 words
(approx. 23 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Justice Encyclopedia Article
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Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Justice from Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group. All rights reserved.
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