The Instigator
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The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

"Justice is blind"

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/3/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,157 times Debate No: 6402
Debate Rounds (4)
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Ok, this is my first debate but I'm wanting to put forward the notion for consideration that justice is in fact blind.

By this I am saying that I believe that the effort to create systems of justice can lead to inadvertantly the opposite instance occuring, in short: creating organised systems of injustice. Many lawyers or those who study law are taught that public law seeks to administer justice but that they should uphold the law and not justice in their profession.

I would like to take this further and insist that outside of transcendent notions of justice and judgement (ie; the final judgement) that justice is a subjective notion which as far as people are concerned is actually a figment of the mind without such trascendent notions.

To support this case I would like to introduce as an example the national union of Myanmar (or Burma). In which after the 1962 coup d'etat the ruling military government has since gone on to persecute all forms of dissidence to what the Burmese military defines as a pursuit of a "disciplined and flourishing democracy".

The arguement is that human logic is subjective in it's "anchoring" and largely absurd. Irrespective of trascendental notions this then highlights that the justice of the state is subject to the notions of the rulers.

I'm not in for anything snide but I'd appreciate going in with anyone who's game..?

Thanks :)



Welcome to the site. You have picked an interesting philosophical topic for a first debate.

1. Lawyers are not allowed to independently determine what is just. In the legal system, justice is determined by the democratic passage of laws and by the judiciary that determines compliance with the laws. Allowing lawyers to make independent determinations of justice would undermine the system, not strengthen it.

2. Pro cites Burma. The example fails because the stated goal is not "justice," discipline and democracy are given precedence over justice. Even declaring that justice is a goal does not mean that it is really the goal; quite obviously dissidents are suppressed in the interests of maintaining power, not in having democracy flourish.

3. The transcendental origin of justice lies in the nature of mankind. People are genetically predisposed to have needs, and they are disposed to belong to tribes that facilitate the meeting and securing of those needs. Individual needs inevitably conflict with tribal needs. A system of justice reconciles those conflicts. For example, theft diminishes the security of one person to benefit of another without a compelling interest of the society being served. Society is better served by punishing theft. Virtually every society comes to the conclusion that theft is unjust. The few societies that declare theft just have dreamed up an imagined compelling need of society.

4. The Founders of the United States attested that rights derive from the nature of man, and are therefore "self-evident." They thought they were put in man by a Creator, but that they could only be known by observation of what they called "natural law."

5. Systems of injustice certainly occur, by they are not "inadvertent." They derive from seeking goals other than justice or from varying reconciliation of the rights and needs of individuals with the rights and needs of society. Nonetheless, there is substantial agreement on many, many issues.
Debate Round No. 1


Thanks for the quick response! I really appreciate it :).

1 The comment was made with the suggestion that justice is subjective, like you yourself mentioned 'allowing lawyers to make independent determinations of justice would undermine the system, not strengthen it'. To say that what the state defines or rather the 'democratic process' as justice is if taken to extremes raises positively Orwellian thinking to emerge. Maybe that is extreme, but your point rests on the condition that the democratic process can successfully carry out this function and that people would not exploit the system..?

2 Granted. What is queried however is that in the original "Burmese path to socialism" drawn up by the original revolutionary council ( in the opening sentence states "does not believe man will be set free from social evils until .. and lives on the fat of such appropriation". If con would entertain it, the original coup d'etat was under the premise of justice in that the council deemed the statement as "just cause" in usurping the then existing government. If the text is read you see foundations for the military dictatorship, however justice in this instance was the apparent pursuit of the coup.

3 I would posit that the social concept of justice is only held when it is deemed utilitarian if that. Given the human ability to contemplate meaning, the insistence of justice is subjective and the definition likewise. Contemporary thinkers like Foucault have commented on this liberty on their works of authorship, if no author exists.. no authority but your own (, this is Nietzsche's will to power, Sartre's acts of authentication etc.

4 The founders were all enlightenment thinkers and as such held the ideals of rationalism. Post-rationalistic thinkers as mentioned offer counters.

5 Justice is a opinion 'just' justice implies authority. Meaning is subjective. If not transcendent it is defined by whatever is popular or


1. I did not assert that whatever the state defines as justice is just. I only asserted that lawyers are not allowed to define it subjectively. Nor did I assert that democracy always provides justice (per slavery approved democratically). I assert that justice is defined by the nature of man, and for that reason democratic societies tend to arrive over time at very similar concepts of justice. Theft, murder, bribery, and so forth are widely recognized as unjust. Even dictatorial regimes give lip service to the common principles, showing that they understand what the principles are, even if they put their own interests ahead of them.

2. The Burma example is never more than authoritarian rule pretending to care about justice. This is common. Nearly every despotic regime on earth subscribes officially to the UN Declaration of Human Rights. They know what justice is, they just put the despot's interests ahead of it.

3. If the concept of justice is entirely subjective, why are same concepts of justice recognized so widely? In free societies they are recognized almost universally. It's true the definition is arbitrary if there is no "authorship." If man did not have a nature, then justice would be arbitrary. But man in fact has a nature, so justice is not arbitrary. In the language of Sartre, it is always inauthentic for a human not to behave according to human nature.

4. The Founders were right, and the post-rationalists wrong. The wide agreement on the principles of justice proves that. Pro should state explicitly what counter-arguments he believes, not just say they exist.

5. Compare justice to mathematics. The rules and logic of math are transcendental. People nonetheless get the wrong answers to math problems, and some problems appear insoluble. Neither occurrence proves that math is subjective. Human knowledge of human nature is imperfect and there are difficult cases of application. Nonetheless, much of human nature and corresponding justice are clear.
Debate Round No. 2


Dystopian authors notably George Orwell comment on the fact that it is through the mechanisms of state administered justice that organised injustice emerges, and although he was a modernist his work critiques the notion that justice is an external absolute.. apparently obvious. The work of Plato's 'Republic' Karl Popper claimed was guilty of leading to things like Hitler's Germany and Soviet Russia and his work on 'forms' all leads into that thinking. You could even claim acts like the American Patriot Act whilst promising 'justice' has the ability to create the opposite. You say Burma is 'pretending' to give justice.. which implies they know what justice is? I think they do know what justice is.. because they are defining it how they wish, it's not a 'gut instinct' it's what you make it.

Going on your comment about dictatorial regime's whilst they might identify or classify particular acts.. the state is often allowed to commit what someone might call murder, or theft, or bribery in a different society. In Iran a thief will have a hand cut off and a Christian executed where I come from a thief would do community service and theirs no crime in being a Christian. In Indian society it was tradition to organise marriages and the existence of the caste system meant that things such as rape, murder, theft etc. across caste lines could effect the 'judgement' of the action.

If the Con argument is leaning on a sort of natural law I do not see how Con avoids the subject of social Darwinism in that instance not only is justice null, but null and void. If it's in our 'nature' to seek justice how would the oppression of strong nation over a weak one be unjust? It's survival of the fittest?

You're last point is a subjective statement of faith, how would we reveal justice to ourselves? Would you or someone of your choosing tell me? Your comment on Sartre is misleading.. to Sartre there was no inauthentic behaviour, life is absurd it didn't matter. That's existentialism.


1. As Pro invokes Orwell, and in his own arguments, the notion is repeated that authoritarian regimes use claims of justice to perpetrate injustice. Pro and Orwell are right about the authoritarian regimes, but the argument also implies that Pro and Orwell know what justice is. Moreover, the long list of authoritarian regimes subscribing, on paper, to the Declaration of Human Rights, shows that they know what it means, too. They rationalize their violation of rights for a "greater good."

2. Issues like the Patriot Act deal with conflicts of rights. Conflicts among rights are inevitable, e.g. free speech and liable. However, having conflicts and borderline cases does not mean that there are no transcendental rights or concepts of justice. An unresolved legal dispute over the exact legal definition of "shoreline" does not mean there is nothing that is ocean or land. As with justice, most of it is clearly defined.

3. Yes, I am drawing on natural law, and I do believe in a concept of social Darwinism. However, social Darwinism does not necessarily imply that the strong crush the weak. That is because mankind is tribal, so there is an instinct for looking after the tribe that competes with the individual survival instinct. The "divine right of kings" has been diminishing for several hundred years. Slavery began to be abolished about 200 years ago; democracy ascended about a hundred years ago. That is social Darwinism at work. These all represent a common evolution of society reflecting what is just. Pro's argument implies no such thing could happen. Pro cannot explain why it has.

4. I do not take Sartre to be a nihilist, but if it is true that authenticity means nothing, then he is offering us nothing. Nihilists try to work from pure logic, supposing that humans are like unprogrammed computers that exist without values. That is manifestly false. Pro should make nihilist arguments, not reference them.
Debate Round No. 3


masok88 forfeited this round.


I challenged Pro to explain why, if justice was arbitrary, so many democratic societies converged in agreement on many concepts of justice. I claim it is because concepts of justice arise from the nature of man. Pro provided no response.

Pro claimed that authoritarian regimes cite justice to justify their authoritarian rule, and that doing so proved justice was subjective and arbitrary. I rebutted that authoritarian regimes commonly say they are honoring the democratic concepts of justice, and that currently most subscribe to the Declaration of Human Rights. This shows that they know what real justice is while putting their interests ahead of justice. Pro provided no response.

Pro claims that certain authors point to authoritarian regimes that use claims of justice to perpetrate injustice. I rebutted that these authors clearly know what justice is. They never suppose that the authoritarian concepts of justice are valid. Therefore, they believe in a transcendental concept of justice while formally denying it. Pro provided no response to this argument.

Justice derives from the nature of man. Man is is a complex creature with instincts to preserve his society (tribe), his family, and himself. Justice derives from the resolution of these human instincts. Because the resolution is complex, there are many wrong avenues. However, democratic societies have over time arrived at many similar resolutions that reflect human nature. The Founders expressed it as truths that are "self-evident." That is the origin of non-subjective justice.
Debate Round No. 4
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by RoyLatham 8 years ago
Good debate, Masok88. I would have preferred a higher word limit, but that does not favor either side. I suppose it does encourage getting to the point, but it limits explanation. An enduring topic.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 8 years ago
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