Justice can be defined in different ways:
The institutional perspective where justice has the role of enforcing laws. This has to be approved by a parliamentary process. BUT, paradoxically, institutional justice can sometimes be unjust as the laws are often made by privileged people placed in power positions. Consequently, this same system penalizes the most vulnerable.
From a social inclusion perspective, we think Justice would be served if the rules or laws were made in a representative way; involving in the decision-making process a sample of people concerned.
Justice can be defined in many other forms, exceeding our countries and societies, for example an ecological justice that honours all life forms on the planet.
The concept of justice has been analysed and defined differently by philosophers, political thinkers, economists, sociologists, and religious leaders over time. It is also a concept that is always changing, depending on the conditions and circumstances prevailing in each age.
From a grammatical point of view, we can relate it to the Sanskrit word “yii”, which means “bond”, or the Vedic language word “yó s”, which means “good, holy, divine”. This interpretation shows the connection of justice to a common sense of doing well. The Greek word for Justice is “diké” Justice meaning “a gift from Zeus”.
According to the Larousse dictionary, justice has several definitions:
• The moral principle that requires respect for law and equity; The moral quality that invites respect for the rights of others; The right to say what is legally just or unjust, condemnable or not, which is the law; The action by which the judiciary, an authority, recognises the right of someone; The institution responsible for exercising judicial power, for applying the law.
Other important references are Aristotle, Emmanuel Kant and Thomas Hobbes. They relate the concept of justice, respectively, with equity, freedom and peace.
Another interesting definition is the one from the North American political theorist, Michael Walzer. He says that the concept of justice is composed of legal justice, which means equality before the law; political justice that means one-person one vote, right of opposition and of speech, and all of the features of a democracy; and social justice that means equality of opportunities. For Martin Luther King, “justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love”.
In terms of justice, it is only possible to affirm that there is no right or wrong, but different reference frameworks, contexts, and historical periods.
References to go deeper:
“Studies of The Theory Of The Norm And The Legal Order”, by Norberto Bobbio
“A Theory of Justice”, by John Rawls
Video: “What is justice?” by Hans Kelsen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akh1Xci1HY0