Despite having only a minimal knowledge of the legal system, people still stuck in the old fashioned myth – Justice For The Rich And Nothing For The Poor system. Let’s start with a simple thought. Most people are ok with a spot of unfairness around the place, even ideally. Ideally? Surely not! No, I think so. Trying to blueprint a perfectly “fair” society is an interesting and educational exercise.
But it’s important to see, not just that the blueprint is “ideal” – with all the difficulties that entails: politics the art of the possible and all – but that, even if we could have this ideal, we might prefer something else.
How so? There are lots of values (of competition and risk and achievement, for example) that are only plausibly realizable in an environment in which there is some unfairness (for some values of “unfair”). To take a trivial example: it isn’t unreasonable to prefer poker to chess, even though there’s more room for luck in poker; hence it is, in at least one sense, less ‘fair’ as games go. Cohen emphasizes a different angle.
The “paying off the kidnapper” cases, which turn out to be distressingly analogous to the difference principle cases (if you buy Cohen’s argument.) Paying a kidnapper may be the prudent thing to do, in certain circumstances (think piracy cases ripped from the headlines). That doesn’t make it just or fair. Maximizing (or optimizing) the good may involve tolerating unfairness.
The very nature of being poor, and therefore implying what exists is an economic system of inequality, is inherently “not fair.”
The fact that we as Americans chose to live under in a capitalist country means we are willing to accept the risk of being poor in order for a chance to strike it rich. I think it’s wrong to call the disadvantages poor people face “unfair discrimination.” That’s exactly what it is, but when said, it sounds like there is some sinister intent by the rich. And for the most part, that isn’t true. It just looks that way.
There are reasons why being poor sucks. And yes, the poor are at a significant disadvantage when it comes to hiring an attorney to represent them. Our government should address this.
In the context of intractable conflict, the terms “JUSTICE” and “FAIRNESS” are often used interchangeably.
Taken in its broader sense, justice is action in accordance with the requirements of some law. Some maintain that justice stems from God’s will or command, while others believe that justice is inherent in nature itself. Still others believe that justice consists of rules common to all humanity that emerge out of some sort of consensus.
This sort of justice is often thought of as something higher than a society’s legal system. It is in those cases where an action seems to violate some universal rule of conduct that we are likely to call it “unjust.”
In its narrower sense, justice is fairness. It is action that pays due regard to the proper interests, property, and safety of one’s fellows. While justice in the broader sense is often thought of as transcendental, justice as fairness is more context-bound.
Parties concerned with fairness typically strive to work out something comfortable and adopt procedures that resemble rules of a game. They work to ensure that people receive their “fair share” of benefits and burdens and adhere to a system of “fair play.”
The principles of justice and fairness can be thought of as rules of “fair play” for issues of social justice. Whether they turn out to be grounded in universal laws or ones that are more context-bound, these principles determine the way in which the various types of justice are carried out.
For example, principles of distributive justice determine what counts as a “fair share” of the public assets, while principles of retributive or restorative justice shape our response to activity that violates a society’s rules of “fair play.” Social justice requires both that the rules be fair, and also that people play by the rules.
People often frame justice issues in terms of fairness and invoke principles of justice and fairness to explain their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with their state or government. They want institutions to treat them fairly and to operate according to fair rules. What constitutes fair treatment and fair rules is often expressed by a variety of justice principles.