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Justice is More Important than Freedom

 
 
alikimr
 
Reply Wed 17 Nov, 2004 10:32 pm
Freedom has been extolled as the most desirable of the important element in the life of individuals and of society as a whole. However, the exercise of one's actions to the detriment of others , either directly or indirectly , lthat is freedom without responsibility, does not appear to be a very constructive approach for a soviety
Do you agree with the subject thesis, or do you have reservations with that position ?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 5,920 • Replies: 40
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Hazlitt
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Nov, 2004 11:24 pm
Freedon/Justice
I think it is generally understood that the freedom we enjoy is not absolute, but that it is abridged in order to allow others the maximum freedom possible within a community of persons. I think this abridgment of freedom may be what we call justice.
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val
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Nov, 2004 04:37 am
Re: Justice is More Important than Freedom
alikimr
Absolute freedom has no sense. Freedom is the possibility of choosing between alternatives within a set of references. In this perspective, justice is not contradictory with freedom. You are free to believe in god, or be an atheist. But, if you kill someone because he is not supporting your convictions, then you are not exercizing your freedom. You are simply trying to destroy someone else's freedom.
In my point of view justice is needed, in a free society, not to impose and repress an unique system of values but to prevent and repress those who deprive other people of their freedom.
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Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Nov, 2004 05:57 am
Re: Justice is More Important than Freedom
alikimr wrote:
Freedom has been extolled as the most desirable of the important element in the life of individuals and of society as a whole. However, the exercise of one's actions to the detriment of others , either directly or indirectly , lthat is freedom without responsibility, does not appear to be a very constructive approach for a soviety
Do you agree with the subject thesis, or do you have reservations with that position ?

No I don't agree with the subject thesis, because "the excercise of one's actions to the detriment of others" impedes the freedom of the "others" in your phrase, and thus tells us nothing about the desirability of freedom. For reference, consider the following definition in the French Revolution's Declaration of human rights.

In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Marquis de Lafayette wrote:
4- Liberty consists in the freedom to do everything which injures no one else; hence the exercise of the natural rights of each man has no limits except those which assure to the other members of the society the enjoyment of the same rights. These limits can only be determined by law.

The thesis you presented is a strawman, or, to say it in more fancy language, "a false dichtonomy". Good luck with your homework! Smile
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alikimr
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Nov, 2004 11:50 am
Thomas;
In quoting Marqius de Lafayette you are saying that justice does indeed come before freedom since the limits to freedom must be layed down by law......i.e. "freedom with responsibility",
not unlimited freedom (which is taking the concept of individual freedom to an absurdity).
I believe you are agreeing with my thesis, .....but, I will do a little more homework on
that assumption.
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Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Nov, 2004 12:16 pm
alikimr wrote:
In quoting Marqius de Lafayette you are saying that justice does indeed come before freedom since the limits to freedom must be layed down by law......i.e. "freedom with responsibility",
not unlimited freedom (which is taking the concept of individual freedom to an absurdity).

No.

I am saying that there are constraints to freedom no matter what the law says. For example, my freedom to hit you on the nose and your freedom from having your nose hit on will always constrain each other. The law can choose the tradeoff between one freedom and the other, but it cannot grant unlimited freedom for both of us. That was the point I was trying to make.

You could convince me of your thesis by showing me an example where the total amount of liberty is reduced but justice is increased. And you would have to show me why in this example, the increase in justice outweighs the decrease in the total amount of liberty.
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alikimr
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Nov, 2004 02:20 pm
Thomas:
In answer to the last paragrph of your last post, please do not consider what follows as a flippant reply. It is intended to accent what appears
to me to be obvious.
John, a fanatic religious fundamentalist,
claimed that he talked to God directly and was told that he was free to kill all prostitutes, which he went about doing freely until the law said....John, this is unjust because you must not go around killing people even if God told you.
Accordingly, justice prevailed over
John's freedom and he was locked up for life,thus
considerably reducing his freedom and justifiably
increasing the life certainty of many other prostitutes.
By the way , Thomas, taking the argument to extrenes, which would be more desirable to you.....unrestrained Justice or unrestrained Freedom ?
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Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Nov, 2004 02:48 pm
It appears, alikimr, as if I still haven't made my point clear enough.

alikimr wrote:
John, a fanatic religious fundamentalist, claimed that he talked to God directly and was told that he was free to kill all prostitutes, which he went about doing freely until the law said....John, this is unjust because you must not go around killing people even if God told you.

In your scenario, does it make any interesting difference to you that being killed greatly infringed on the prostitutes' freedom, and that John's arrest greatly increased it? When you weigh John's loss of freedom against the prostitutes' gain of freedom when John was arrested, could this add up to a net gain of freedom for everyone involved? If your answer to those questions is "yes", maybe you haven't described a tradeoff between justice and freedom at all. Maybe the law is just because it increased the total amount of freedom in society, not in spite of it having reduced it, which you seem to imply is what happened.
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alikimr
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Nov, 2004 03:20 pm
Thomas:
Our point of view is where we are having our subjective difficulty with, as you suggest.
But really , Thomas, I would be very interested in your reply to my last question in my post. Which would be more desirable to you, unrestrained Freedom or unrestrained Justice?
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Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Nov, 2004 03:27 pm
alikimr wrote:
Which would be more desirable to you, unrestrained Freedom or unrestrained Justice?

I cannot answer this, because I think the premise of the question is wrong. Unrestrained freedom is never an option, not even logically. And I don't see how unrestrained justice to the extent it is logically possible, would be inconsistent with a free society, to the extent it is logically possible. I don't think you're describing a tradeoff we're actually facing.
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thethinkfactory
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Nov, 2004 07:46 am
I agree completely with Thomas here. Freedom is the greatest - justice is only needed when the freedom of one impedes on the freedom of another.

Think about what Rousseu said - the invention of pricate property brought about the need for a social contract. Until then, everyone had enough and thier freedom needed on social contract defining justice.

Thomas is right - your question is phased such that it is unanswerable in any logical way. Unrestrained freedom removes any need for any justice.

You are supposing that unrestrained freedom for one entails unrestrained freedom for all - when if you read Thomas's posts correctly - unrestrained freedom may directly impede others freedom and lead to a net loss in freedoms for the society. Unrestrained freedom, in your conception, is only possible in a state of nature, and thus like Rousseau said - does not need justice or a social contract for that justice.

Justice only follows from freedom misused.

TTF
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Hazlitt
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Nov, 2004 09:36 am
Everyone has the right to exercise his liberty as he wishes, so long as he does not impeed the right of others to do likewise. The need for Justice comes into play when someone acts, or is accused of acting, so as to impeed the freedon of another.
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alikimr
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Nov, 2004 03:14 pm
Freedom Fighters:
Would you not agree that if we ever achieve a JUST society we would automatically
have the" freedom with responsibility" that we all
consider so imperative?
Alternatively, human nature being what it is, it is difficult to envision a truly "free" society, that is, one where individual freedom has no restrictions and one which
will conduct its affairs with 'justice for all' being a
viable objective.
Accordingly, looking at each of these idealistic options, I would choose the most
possible , (although still highly improbable) option....give me a JUST society and we ourselves will define and exercise individual freedom in the most resposible and satisfying manner for all.
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thethinkfactory
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Nov, 2004 06:01 pm
So in your argument we become just first and then we get freedom? What did we have before - slavery? I don't get it. We are born to a certain extent free - how we use that freedom can be just or not.

Justice is meaningless without freedom - thus it is contingent on a notion of freedom to have any meaning. Someone must have freedom for there to be any concept of justice.

Freedom is not contingent on Justice to have meaning - perhaps perfect freedom is - but not freedom. No one need to have justice for some to have freedom.

I don't see how justice leads to freedom. I think if we balance our freedom the society becomes just - I have no clue how else it could work.

TTF
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Hazlitt
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Nov, 2004 09:40 pm
Freedom then Justice
It would seem to me that we first attempt to exercise complete freedom, but in so doing we come up against others who are also wanting to exercise their freedom. In this way disputes arise that can be settled by force, so that the strongest person wins. This proves unsatisfactory because in the end, nobody likes being done-in. So some more peaceful and rational way is needed to settle disputes. This rational way of settling disputes is what we call justice.

The need for justice arises from the excesses of freedom.
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Hazlitt
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Nov, 2004 09:52 pm
What is Justice?
Is justice the same thing as fairness?

If so, do we live in a just society?

Alternatively, is justice simply obedience to the law?

If so, who do the laws serve? And do we then live in a just society?

How do we decide what is just?
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Hazlitt
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Nov, 2004 10:12 pm
Justice is Fairness
We in the Western societies have generally considered Liberty to be our highest political virtue. We have been honing that virtue for a long time. Our right to Liberty is very well established and protected. What we must now strive for is a more Just society.

So, what will a more just society look like?
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thethinkfactory
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Nov, 2004 04:24 am
So that is where the converse comes in - in my opinion. That justice can abridge freedom - it shouldn't - the constitution of America specifically speaks against it - but it does.

This is another reason why I see Justice coming after and being 'less' than freedom. Justice for one can abridge the freedom of another - in fact it appears to be a necessary component of justice - to lessen the absolute freedom of one to protect the freedom of another.

Freedom cannot abridge Justice - the abuse of freedom (which I argue is not freedom at all) abridges justice. True freedom - where all are free - does not need justice.

However, freedom does not equal fairness. It might ensure fair play - but not fairness - if fairness means equal outcome.

Also, justice has little to do with law. We enact law to spell out justice - but there are ample examples of law that is not just.

TTF
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Hazlitt
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Nov, 2004 04:29 pm
The Law and Justice
ThinkFactory,

IMO our ideas about the various virtues such as Liberty and Justice have evolved over time. For obvious reasons absolute liberty cannot be extended to all persons (Chaos would ensue). So, justice tempers liberty. Laws are simply an attempt to codify our efforts at producing a just society. The problem is that those who have managed to amass power (own property) are the ones who make the laws. So, we end up with a flawed justice, IMO, that is nevertheless better than chaos, but not perfect.

Obviously, the owner of a vast industrial empire will have a view of justice that is quite different than that of the woman who sweeps the floor in his office at night.

So we still have the problem of what is justice? When we strive for a just society, what is it we are striving for?
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Debra Law
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Nov, 2004 05:44 pm
Liberty and Justice
Your thesis is built on the faulty premise the freedom of all diminishes the justice for all and visa versa. However, these concepts are not mutually exclusive. Liberty (individual freedoms) and Justice go hand in hand.

"I Pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Freedom is not the same as anarchy. Freedom does not mean that all individuals have the right to do whatever they want without regard to the harm it causes others. In our society, freedom (or liberty) means the right to live our lives free from unreasonable government intrusion. In our society, justice is the right to the equal protection and due process of law. Freedom and justice go hand in hand; these concepts are not polar opposites.

In other words, "justice for all" secures the "freedom of all."

Look at the Declaration of Independence (wherein the people declared their freedom from a tyrannical and oppressive government):

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

People form governments with "just powers" (the power to administer justice) in order to secure their freedoms (rights) to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

In other words, there can be no freedom in an anarchy where individual conduct is unrestrained by the law of man. In an anarchy, the law of nature reigns and becomes the "survival of the fittest." It has nothing to do with freedom or justice.
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