The Definition of Justice

Essay by nalnvyCollege, UndergraduateA-, July 2009

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What is justice? Is it what it is fair? Or is it what is merely appropriate in a specific situation? This is a question that has been pondered for millennia; certainly what is clear is that justice is needed to keep the society stable and safe. Justice is like the equilibrium stage of a chemical equation. A little deviation can cause a dramatic reaction for better or worse. Justice is associated with many words, but the essence is always what is fair.

Justice, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is the administration of what is just by the law; it is the exercise of authority in the maintenance of right; it is the moral principle determining just conduct. The term justice is often used to describe the law. Justice is achieved through law; law is the delivery system of justice. In general, a just law can be proved constantly to ensure the rightfulness within the society.

This is not to say that the law itself is just. Unjust laws happen, and people are entitled to disobey them. Those who obey the unjust law without questions are as guilty as those who create an unjust law. According to Henry David Thoreau, in his essay "Civil Disobedience," those people who obey the law without reason or conscience are no better than horses or dogs. They put themselves on the same level as dirt (Thoreau 139). Only their bodies are human; they do what is commanded with out thinking. People should understand what kind of law is inappropriate and what makes the law just or unjust. According to Martin Luther King Jr., in his "Letter from Birmingham Jail," a just law squares with the moral law or the law of God, uplifts the human personality, and is sameness made legal; an unjust law...