The Ideals Of Justice Essay Research Paper

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The Ideals Of Justice Essay, Research Paper The idea of justice has been very prominent in the readings and discussions that we have had this quarter. The Old Testament and Plato’s Republic both give definitions and ideals of justice, but sometimes these ideas are contrasting or even hypocritical in their respective practices. These books both give examples of justice and how people come across their individual ideas of what justice is. I will try to explore these thoughts and explain not only what justice is, but also how individuals establish their own interpretations of the word justice. Because everyone’s’ ideas are different, we must first establish a common idea of justice. To do this we must look no further than the Oxford American Dictionary; which defines

justice as “fairness.” Socrates would ask, “what is fairness and who decides that it is fair?” In the Old Testament, God would decide the definition of fairness, because what He says is right. Each of these classic texts gives good insight on the subject of justice, sometimes they agree and sometimes their opinions are conflicting. In either case we can relate these ideas to the contemporary American society which we live in. In the Old Testament justice is what God says it is, and gives a clear set of guidelines telling how to be a just person. In the Old Testament, if one does as God said, they are just, if they do not do not obey God, then they are unjust. The most obvious of these rules are the Ten Commandments which include: thou shall not kill, steal or disobey God.

When one of these rules is broken then the person who broke the rule is said to have sinned, and by sinning they have done an unjust act. When a person sins they are punished by a deed equal to that of which they have committed. In the book of Genesis when Cain kills his brother Abel, God punishes Cain by making him wander the earth for the rest of his life. Cain responds to God by saying that men will surely try to kill him for what he has done. God answers saying, “if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over.” This example shows that in true justice according to the Old Testament, vengeance is required to uphold justice. Nobody will get away with unjust deeds, because justice is ideally served in the end. By “the end” it is implied that they will pay

in this life or in heaven or hell. The Old Testament gives us the idea that justice comes from the word of God and that it will be dealt to the unjust person at least as harshly as the act they committed to deserve it. The ideas of justice presented in Plato’s book The Republic are not as clear cut as those of the Old Testament. It starts off by saying that justice is “giving everyone his due.” What that person deserves is up to the individual or the state depending on the situation. They decide that justice came into the world because people were afraid of each other. They made the case that people agreed not to harm each other and made rules to implement this idea. Socrates said that there are three parts of the mind: reason, emotion, and desire. In a just person, the

reason part will always be in control of the other two parts of the mind. He compared justice to the human body when he said that justice in the mind is like health in the body. Socrates also says that is impossible to be just in an unjust society because the circumstances of the unjust affect the would-be just people and force them to be somewhat unjust. It is concluded that a just person is one with knowledge and an unjust person is ignorant. Both the New Testament and Plato’s Republic give good insights to the definition of justice. Each makes strong points and there are many similarities between the two. In Plato’s Republic Socrates states that punishment does not harm people. The only way that a man can be truly harmed is by being made a worse man. What is really harmful