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Justice as a Virtue in Philosophy

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Philosophy
Wordcount: 1582 words Published: 18th May 2020

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When talking about justice as a virtue, it is referred to as the way individuals behave, their traits, it can be connected or even reference to social justice. John Rawls the philosopher had another way of looking at it as “the first virtue of social institutions”, therefore they are more than interpretation of individual and social applications between the social justice and justice as a virtue. Every philosopher will have their own unique interpretation of what they think it is really about,  a good example mentioned is that Plato in the Republic would treat justice as an “overarching virtue of individuals (and of societies), meaning that almost every issue he (or we) would regard as ethical comes in under the notion of justice (dikaosoune ). But in modern usages justice covers only part of individual morality”. Another example was used to show how we think as a society, it was said that we won’t think as someone to be unjust if they have neglected their children or lied, other qualities would be mentioned about the individual first before being unjust comes to mind. In the case of individual justice, it is connected to the moral issues, having to do with goods or property.

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Karl Marx believed that capitalism has negative effects on the way society operates, he also believed that through its own logia it would collapse, like before how socio-economic systems had collapsed on themselves throughout time. Marx had problems with the mode of production, his most crucial point was the “alienation” and “exploitation” of the workers, he states that workers are forced to sell their labor power for a period in their life, getting in return way less than what they are supposed to received, this is due to the fact of the workers living labor, the production and the expenses of the product it gives the capitalist a surplus while the laborer is paid well below standard.

This is a what one can call “exploitation” as the capitalist receives all the profit while the worker gets the bare minimum, he explains why it is a bad thing, he stated that it can’t happen through any system, only through a Capitalism exploitation is class exploitation, then being reinforced by already existing rules. Alienation then comes from the fact of how the workers are viewed and treated, they can be seen with the same value as the machine they are using, just as the capitalist are profiting from the use of the machines, only paying for the maintenance, it is the same for the worker. He also gave another example of alienation of how the workers are living in an automation in the world of the automation, its just the workers in a warehouse of commodities, a servant of the machine.

Justice is seen as only in the interest of the strong, every government has made their own laws, democratically, aristocratical, tyrannical, with each of these government making each law in their own interest, and by doing this is how they give out justice to the public, and as a someone breaks the law then they are punished by doing that, even if the laws are unjust and makes no sense, so therefore justice is only of interest of those who are stronger and have the power to command, as for “might is Right”, it is considered to be about strength or physicality, which is not apart of what we do today.

In the world of an extreme pacifists it makes perfect sense, but in our world, today’s world does it really makes sense? Or I should say is it even possible? I personally do not believe this concept as sometimes its do or die, or the matter of protecting those who are hopeless. The just war theory states that it must be of last resort, be of self-defense or against invasion, not to acquire wealth or power, there must be rules to the war, it must be fought to promote good or avoid evil, just think about all of these things, and ask yourself this question, is it really possible? Most of the answers would probably be no.

What philosophers thought was a conventional way of war in reality it is not, especially not in today’s world, we have evolved in terms of the way the world works, how governments operate, everyone have their own agenda, greed is on the rise, the race is on to who can boost about having the biggest army, the biggest missile, we live in an egotistical world, it is almost a must to do the things that are being done in order to achieve anything. With that being said there is also still some good that comes from the approach that is being taken right now, innocents are being save, being are finding a new and better way of living, not much can be done to go back to the belief of these said philosophers.

The theory has changed over time and is significant to the criteria of what determines what warfare is, this theory came from the Greek and Roman period and also has its part in Christian traditions, some say that teachings from Aristotle’s and Cicero’s was a reflection of their belief, but it really came about from St. Augustine’s. In regard to 9/11 it depends on how you look at it, but it can be said that the theory does apply in some way.

It states that warfare comes down to “ as a last resort” and is at the bottom of the list as a reason why a country would go war, with that being said the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan came after 9/11, it was a way of retaliation to what had happen and as a way to combat what the United States deemed as the time was terrorist. The confusion in those said countries was at an all-time high also, with many innocent people either injured or killed, as the leader was corrupt and had a totalitarian approach. The invasion was for many reasons, one was to try and curb the behavior and the many terroristic acts that was believed to be taking place, another was the fact that the U.S. thought that they also had some form of nuclear weapons at their disposal and wanted them to give up what they had.

Thinking about it, was it a last resort? Were people in agreement for this to happen, did it benefit the U.S. in any way to do this? There will always be pros and cons for doing what they did. War has always been in every story, especially biblical, and I don’t think there was ever a time in which humans didn’t have no part in war, maybe it’s a part of us, our nature and how we handle things, whether it’s a good idea or not, it depends on the views of the person and what they believe in order to figure out what it really was. It all comes down to moral and ethics and how we would react to seeing innocents hurt.

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Social contract theory states that people who live together in a society in an agreement to establish moral and political rules of behavior. People believe that if we live according to a social contract, we can live morally by our own choice and not because a divine being requires it. social contracts can be explicit, which are laws or implicit, which is raising your hand in class to speak. The U.S. Constitution is an example of explicit social contract. It has multiple laws which gives the people a blue print of what they can or can’t do.

Hobbs and Rousseau both used the term “savage” man as a state of nature in a attempt to analyze the way humans think and react to different things. They had a different approach, they tried to separate the individual from the influences that they would usually face, such as culture, religion, government etc to see how life would be without these forces which would dictate our behavior.

What they then came up with was completely opposite to each other, a man in a state of nature is essentially peaceful, sovereignty keeps the society corrupt, which then influences war and man alike, governments try to protect people and are supposed to have their best interest whilst sovereign only does what is beneficial to them, the people are not subject to laws.

It is said that humans are more complexed than what either of them thought, “he two most basic purposes of life are to live and to reproduce, it should do everything it can to avoid dying through a law of resources”.  The instinct of animals causes them to fight and compete against each other, how does that relate to how we are as people? We also have instincts, the ability to be irrational, in reality humans should be able to overcomes these things, but that is not what always happens, instinct and reason do not always agree. Society and Government can moderate bad behavior or encourage it, it depends on the type of organization and the qualities that are ingrained. Humans are a mix of good and bad, instinct and reason, avarice and empathy, the amount of these attributes depends on each person and can vary from moment to moment, and how the society is from where they are from, each person is a reflection from where there came from.


  • Yurtoğlu, Nadir. “Http://Www.historystudies.net/Dergi//Birinci-Dunya-Savasinda-Bir-Asayis-Sorunu-Sebinkarahisar-Ermeni-isyani20181092a4a8f.Pdf.” History Studies International Journal of History, vol. 10, no. 7, 2018, pp. 241–264., doi:10.9737/hist.2018.658.
  • Slote, Michael. “Justice as a Virtue.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford University, 8 Mar. 2002, stanford.library.sydney.edu.au/archives/fall2015/entries/justice-virtue/.


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