The Instigator
Con (against)
The Contender
Pro (for)

Does justice exist truly, or is it just legal and socially acceptable revenge?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/23/2018 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 392 times Debate No: 109341
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Before beginning the debate, please take a look at the definitions of the words crucial to this debate. These following definitions were derived from dictionary. com.

Justice: just behavior or treatment.
Just: based on or behaving according to what is morally right and fair ( for more clarification).
Revenge: the action of inflicting hurt or harm on someone for an injury or wrong suffered at their hands.
Socially acceptable: something that is considered acceptable in a group or society.

I will be against the existence of justice for this debate,


I accept the challenge. Best of luck.
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you, and best of luck to you as well. This is my first ever debate outside of campus and I hope to do well.

I'll begin my argument with a basic scenario based question.

A man kills someone who is very close to you, this man is caught, found guilty, and sentenced to 40 years in prison.
Now this man repents wholly and truly, he knows what he did was wrong and vows to never commit any crimes again.

For the sake of this argument, lets just agree that his vow will be upheld.

Now the judge gives you the choice, let this man walk free, or let him complete his 40 years sentence, what do you do? Would the rest of the human race do what you did?


My opponent's argument can be seen coming from quite a while away. Let's first off deal with a few misconceptions around the way in which my opponent frames the debate and then move on to substantative rebuttal.

Quickly, though, let's first deal with my opponents's query (pausing to note that you generally don't actually get 40 years for murder in the UK, you must [1] get life inprisonment with a minimum guideline) - the purpose of parole is to provide a mix of retribution (justice-as-revenge) and rehabilitation (justice-as-fairness). Therefore, I'd ensure that they go free - the purpose of the prison system should to the conception of justice that we have in the west be mostly dedicated to rehabilitation and it's occurred here. The man's not a danger to society.

It's pretty easy to encapsulate the reason why my opponent is wrong in one sentence - Justice isn't just limited to retribution.

The argument I assume (and I apologise if I'm wrong) my opponent is leading up to is as follows.

P1: In the criminal justice system, those who are found guilty receive some form of retribution (be it a fine, a jail time, or in the extreme the death penalty)
P2: The justice system therefore requires retribution to function properly
P3: The justice system is based upon retribution
P4: retribution is simply sanctioned revenge
C: The justice system is therefore simply sanctioned revenge (or based upon such)

Here's the problem. Justice as a concept stretches far beyond its rather limited implementation in the criminal justice system. Justice can mean a lot of things - it can mean the criminal justice system applies to all equally, it can be some Rawlsian conception of justice as fairness or Nozick's conception of justice as noncoercion in relation to property rights. This means that justice as retribution (in the criminal justice system) is absolutely not the limiter on our societal concepts of justice in general as it applies to our society.

Furthermore, my opponent misframes the criminal justice system as simply retribution - there's also a rehabilitative side to it, especially where individuals receive community service, for instance. Furthermore, within it there's more complex ideas of justice as fairness, simply demonstrated by the idea of leniency.

My opponent hasn't so far come up with anything that proves the greater concept of justice as a non-existent idea/ideal.

Debate Round No. 2
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Debate Round No. 3
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