The Instigator
hatim5253
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
AudaciousCam
Con (against)
Winning
6 Points

What is Justice?

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
AudaciousCam
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/6/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 964 times Debate No: 48581
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (6)
Votes (1)

 

hatim5253

Pro

Is justice just defined by legal action done by the government or is there more to it? Is there an absolute justice people can abide by or is it just relative? Is justice just defined by we think is right for us? I think justice is just the legal action done by the government. Also justice is just relative to the self interest of the person. Which is why what the government does is by default justice?
AudaciousCam

Con

I accept.

Given that my opponent did not develop any arguments in the first round, I will not present my case until the second round. However, I would like to clarify what we are debating.

The "Pro" is defending the following position:

"Justice is just the legal action done by the government."

As the "Con" for this debate, I will defend a gender-neutral interpretation of justice outlined in Plato's The Republic:

"Justice is the giving to each man what is proper to him." [1]

I shall argue that justice represents much more than government action; justice is a timeless philosophical concept that dictates what each individual is "due" including but not limited to human rights, well-being, and autonomy.

I look forward to an engaging debate.

Sources

1. "The Internet Classics Archive | The Republic by Plato." The Internet Classics Archive | The Republic by Plato. Web. 6 Mar. 2014. <http://classics.mit.edu...
Debate Round No. 1
hatim5253

Pro

Justice can be defined only as what the government does. Justice is a very ambiguous term and even if Plato defines justice as
"Justice is the giving to each man what is proper to him." The people need to lay down something that allows for justice to be followed. In which case, justice would be administered by the government. The government's actions are a representative of what people define as justice and also they administer that same justice. Which is why justice can fairly be described as the legal action done by government.
AudaciousCam

Con

AudaciousCam forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
hatim5253

Pro

hatim5253 forfeited this round.
AudaciousCam

Con

AudaciousCam forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
hatim5253

Pro

hatim5253 forfeited this round.
AudaciousCam

Con

I apologize for failing to provide my arguments earlier. Although I may lose the conduct point from voters, I will proceed with the debate in the circumstance that the voters choose to read my arguments despite my conceded rounds.

I will begin by refuting my opponent's arguments and then conclude by presenting my own case.

"Justice can be defined only as what the government does."

Although justice can be exercised by the government, to define justice as solely governmental action is flawed in two ways. First, it creates an unrealistic expectation of governments by presuming that they always act in a manner that upholds the concept of "justice". Historically, governments have failed to uphold justice by taking measures ranging from ethnic cleansing to mass starvation. Second, it fails to speak to the origins of the term "justice" which stems from philosophy rather than solely politics. Justice - in nearly any context of the word - refers to some concept of equity or moral correctness. Ultimately, one can only define a term by - at a minimum - considering what it means to society and what it has been traditionally defined as.

"Justice is a very ambiguous term and even if Plato defines justice as 'Justice is the giving to each man what is proper to him.' The people need to lay down something that allows for justice to be followed."

Justice may be ambiguous in nature and may require legal enforcement, but that does not mean that we have to alter what it represents. Justice is considered a value; politicians and activists across the world strive to achieve justice as shown through the rhetoric of campaigns and political movements. Justice was the end goal of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, of the War on Poverty President Lyndon B. Johnson declared in 1964, and of the recent LGBTQ movements for equality and fairness. In the end, has "justice" - despite the efforts of these historical movements - been perfectly achieved? Certainly not. In 2008, the Alaskan state legislature tried to enact a law that would force Native Americans to travel by air or boat to merely cast a ballot. [1] The gap between the rich and the poor is the widest it has ever been since the "Roaring Twenties". [2] Justice is "ambiguous" because it is something that citizens and governments strive to achieve. It is a value that we reach for, not one that we necessarily can always grasp within our fingertips. Laws are created for people to follow them; justice is an idea that transcends laws for it is what they ultimately protect.

"In which case, justice would be administered by the government."

I agree in that justice can be administered by the government, but that is not always the case. Businesses and corporations should be held accountable for upholding a different conception of "justice" in the workplace in which each individual is treated with respect rather than intolerance. Communities can build local programs to help people in need, such as homeless shelters and other community service activities. Governmental action is not the panacea to injustice; grass-roots efforts by people also are crucial.

"The government's actions are a representative of what people define as justice and also they administer that same justice. Which is why justice can fairly be described as the legal action done by government."

Here, my opponent argues that governments' actions are representative of what the people desire and therefore support the notion of justice. There are two glaring problems with this argument. The first problem is that it presumes all governments are democracies and thus turns a blind eye to autocratic regimes and oligarchies. The second problem is that it assumes that democracies always properly represent what the people desire. This is empirically false. Political scientists Alexander Pacek and Benjamin Radcliff—who studied the extent to which nineteen different industrialized democracies represented the political views of their citizens—write that, “Put differently, every percentage point increase in turnout draws mostly lower- income and working-class voters to the polls. As a group, such voters will split their votes between left and non-left parties. A larger turnout favours the left to the degree to which the split operates in its favour." Pacek and Radcliff further that, “The results imply that the left share of the vote increases by about one-third of a point for every percentage point increase in turnout.” [3] This evidence demonstrates that when turnout increases, the results of elections shift. Given that countries such as the United States are undergoing severely low turnout rates in elections such as the 2012 Presidential Election - when only 57.5% of the voting-age population voted [4] - democracies are not always indicative of the political will of a country. Therefore, even by my opponent's own emphasis on what the people desire, justice is not upheld by governmental action.

Why prefer the "Con" interpretation of justice?

As I touched upon in my rebuttal to my opponent's central arguments, justice is more effective when it serves as something governments and people strive towards. When one defines justice as merely governmental action, they ignore the underlying problems of equality and moral correctness that society faces. Instead, when justice is considered a concept referring to what each person is "due", laws can be corrected and improved to preserve equality and basic human rights. By devoting ourselves to something which is above us - even if it may be an "ambiguous" or abstract idea - it allows us to improve our laws and actions. Therefore, there is no need to redefine the foundation upon which justice was built upon: the notion that each person gets what he or she is "due" because it is the very edifice upon all progress is constructed.

Thank you for reading, and I strongly urge a vote in favor of the "Con" side.

Sources

1. Lauren Williams, staff writer for Mother Jones. 5 Terrible Acts of Voter Discrimination the Voting Rights Act Prevented - But Won't Anymore. 6. Aug 2013. http://www.motherjones.com...;

2. Trumbull, Mark. "America's big wealth gap: Is it good, bad, or irrelevant?." The Christian Science Monitor. The Christian Science Monitor, 14 Feb. 2012. Web. 21 Mar. 2014. <http://www.csmonitor.com...;.

3. Pacek , Alexander , and Benjamin Radcliff . "Turnout and the Vote for Left-of-Centre Parties: A Cross-National Analysis." British Journal of Political Science. 25.1 (1995): 137-143. Print.

4. "Presidential Election Voter Statistics."Statistic Brain RSS. Web. 19 Mar. 2014. <http://www.statisticbrain.com...;.
Debate Round No. 4
hatim5253

Pro

hatim5253 forfeited this round.
AudaciousCam

Con

AudaciousCam forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by jwcmcorbin 2 years ago
jwcmcorbin
This sounds like an interesting debate. Good luck to Pro and the Con!
Posted by AudaciousCam 2 years ago
AudaciousCam
Okay, can you change the first round of the debate to include your stance? It would improve clarity for voters.
Posted by hatim5253 2 years ago
hatim5253
yes , but only for argument sake.
Posted by AudaciousCam 2 years ago
AudaciousCam
To clarify, you are defending the following stance:

"any legal action done by the government is justice"
Posted by hatim5253 2 years ago
hatim5253
well I really don't have a position. I really just want opinions on the topic but I guess for debate I could say any legal action done by the government is justice.
Posted by AudaciousCam 2 years ago
AudaciousCam
What is your position on the issue?
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Matt_L 2 years ago
Matt_L
hatim5253AudaciousCamTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: Both sides presented good points, but Con provided more extensive arguments. Conduct goes to Con because he forfeit the least number of rounds. Sources also go to Con for actually providing some.