What is your understanding of justice vs ethics?

Do you think they have different relationships with what is legal?

Freshman year philosophy assignment?


Yes, often they do.

I’ll give it a shot: Ethics are a set of beliefs and values that a legal system is crafted in an attempt to to protect and promote.

I suggest that justice is a subset of ethics. Ethics considers the rightness/wrongless of all human choices and actions; justice (at least in the administration-of-law sense of the word) deals with the rightness/wrongess of choices and actions relating to the exercise of power, particularly civic or political power.

Doing homework for people when they should be doing it themselves is neither just nor ethical. How is that assignment on Thoreau coming along?

Shame, 'cause it could actually be an interesting question. But yeah. Do your own homework.

mama glare

What? Homework? That’d be a shame.

If that is the case, tell this to your teacher: Justice is merely a word. Events demonstrate it, and the study of ethics proves it.

Justice is a big bunch of flowers that smells bad.

Oh, wait, that is logic. I always get those two mixed up.

In American jurisprudence, justice and ethics have no connection. Justice means fulfilling the written law…where that results in an “ethical” outcome is a matter of chance.
Example: medical “malpractice”-a person dies while under the care of a physician. That person’s heirs file a lawsuit against the physician. Litigation follows, which gravely impacts the physician. Eventually, a “settlement” is reached. Was “justice” done? yes. Was it ethical, probably not.

Well, you were doing find until you got to the last sentence, which is completely unsupported by either argument or evidence, and which doesn’t proceed from anything in the scenario you posit.

How so? The physician was doing everything he could. Now, he is forced to defend himself in court (a long and expensive process). Most likely, he will have to increase his fees to pay for this. So, while the “victim” (or his heirs) will receive some compensation, it is received by making others pay for it. In no sense is this “ethical”. But it is “justice”-hence my comment.

They’re different, but related. Simply put, justice is about the proper and equitable application of rules and laws, whereas ethics is about what those rules and laws ought to be.

Well, you didn’t stipulate that in your original post!

How can you say that it is in no sense ethical? Even if we assume that the physician was guilty of no negligence, inattention, incompetence or lapse of any kind and this is Just One Of Those Things That Happens, I don’t see how you can claim that a mechanism by which the risks of such accidents are spread and shared is “in no sense ethical”. There’s an obvious ethical argument for it; the appeal to solidarity. You might argue that it’s inefficient; that solidarity would be better served by a different risk-spreading mechanism, but that would be a different argument.

Conversely, if you deny that solidarity can have any ethical value, and if you still maintain that the physician had no legal or ethical obligation to compensate the patient, if the litigation system is such that he is effectively compelled to compensate the patient anyway, how can you say that “justice” is being done? Are you of the view that every outcome of a judicial process is, by definition, just?

Except when he wasn’t.

I personally would not equate justice with the legal system. Justice is just the enforcement of ethics. It can be as small as you apologizing for hurting someone’s feelings, thus trying to make them feel better, or as big as killing yourself because you committed genocide. It need not be enforced by others.

Or, for a more negative spin, how many people go out for revenge based an idea that, in doing so, they are dispensing justice?