What Is The Episteme Of Justice

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Justice is defined (Merriam-Webster) in following ways –
• “The maintenance or administration of what is just especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments”.
• The quality of being just, impartial, or fair
• Right action
• Righteousness
• Correctness
The paper attempts to explore the episteme of justice under following heads –
• Historical backdrop of justice
• Comparative analysis of justice (Rawls and Amartya Sen) -
• Explore if justice is universal or relative - adversarial or contextual
• Conclusion
Proceed with the exploration in the above mentioned sequence –
Historical backdrop of justice Plato in his Republic dealt with dikaiosune
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Plato’s idea of the city has three classes based on labour division i.e. the guardian class, auxiliary class and the merchant class, with wisdom, courage and moderation as their prime essential attributes. Similarly, the psyche of individual has three categories, i.e., reasoning (to rule), spirit (to enable the rule by reason) and appertite. Justice for polis implies following the class structure based on essence of true nature of the class, whereas, justice for individuals is about following one’s own psyche to pursue one’s task. Can Plato’s notion of justice in his republic be seen as a bridge between soul and the polis, as oftenly stated – statecraft as soulcraft.
In his Crito, Plato equates just life with good life. Justice in Crito, also implies not inflicting injury to others even if they inflict harm on you, fulfilling one’s promises and abiding by the laws of polis (unless one can manage to change those laws). However, an obvious question which emerges is can justice require to follow laws that demand one to act unjustly.
Aristotle in contrast , sees justice as a virtue of character (Nichomeachean Ethics). He emphasises on the role of reason both in perceiving just and act justly rather than being impulsive. Aristotle sees justice via virtue of constitutionally framed institutions (in his Politics). Aristotle argues so to establish a formal structure of justice.
Most of the
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Sen argues, that social justice shouldn’t be evaluated in binary terms, as either achieved or not. However, justice is a matter of degree and should be seen as a continuum. Sen further argues that, abstract ideal of justice needn’t be fully established to evaluate fairness of different institutions. Comparison of level of justice in two institutions without posing an ideal ie., transcendental idea of justice. Sen proposes to move away from transcendtal institutionalism. Argues to support comparative rather perfectionist theory of justice. Sen argues that liberty cannot be forsaken in the hope of better re-distributution of socio-economic equality. Right way, as per Sen, about asking questions on justice is to ask how justice can be advanced rather than defining perfectly just institutions. Sen mentions that, Rawls does not suggest as to how to set-up institutions. This debate also leads to institutions (deontology) versus outcome (consequentialism). He argues in favour of capability approach rather than need based approach as suggested by
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