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Importance of Justice – Short Essay

Category: Essays and Paragraphs On March 23, 2019 By Various Contributors

Justice makes the citizens of any given country to have faith in the laws of their country and therefore their judicial system . A country that trusts its judicial system is one that maintains peace.

Justice brings unity to a country as they are driven by the goal of maintaining law and order. When there is justice in a country , people fear to commit crime.

Justice punishes crime and therefore rids a country of law breakers and other offenders of the law. It eliminates shrewd personalities in a country.

Justice also gives voice to the poor and the weak and therefore the rich and powerful cannot take advantage of them.

It opens up the public to supporting the law and reporting cases of crime with faith that justice will be served.

Justice also serves as a guide or watch dog for a society where people always do the right thing with or without supervision.

Justice as defined by law drives a country towards better days. It is important to campaign for justice in whichever system or level one finds themselves in as it will determine the overall turnout of that particular society. This is because the concept of justice is one that is introduced, nurtured to grow and develop and does not just happen overnight.

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Home — Essay Samples — Law, Crime & Punishment — Judiciary — Justice

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Essays on Justice

Hook examples for justice essays, anecdotal hook.

Step into a courtroom, where the pursuit of justice unfolds before our eyes. As the gavel strikes and decisions are made, the impact of justice reverberates through society. Join me on a journey to explore the complexities and significance of justice.

Quotation Hook

""Justice delayed is justice denied."" These words, attributed to William E. Gladstone, emphasize the importance of timely and fair justice. Let's delve into the profound implications of justice in our world.

Justice and Human Rights Hook

Justice and human rights are inextricably linked. Explore how the concept of justice intersects with the protection of fundamental human rights, shaping our understanding of justice on a global scale.

Historical Perspectives on Justice Hook

Justice has evolved over centuries, often in response to historical events and societal changes. Delve into the historical context of justice, from ancient legal systems to pivotal moments in the fight for civil rights.

Justice in the Legal System Hook

Justice is a cornerstone of the legal system. Analyze the principles and mechanisms that underpin justice in legal proceedings, from the presumption of innocence to the role of juries in delivering verdicts.

Social Justice and Equity Hook

Justice extends beyond legal proceedings to issues of social justice and equity. Investigate how societies address inequality, discrimination, and the pursuit of a more just and equitable world.

Modern Challenges in Justice Hook

Justice remains a pressing concern in the modern world. Explore contemporary challenges and debates surrounding justice, including issues related to criminal justice reform, restorative justice, and access to justice.

Justice in Antigone: Divine Law Versus Human Authority

Juror nine in "twelve angry men", made-to-order essay as fast as you need it.

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Lennie Death Analysis

What is the true definition of justice, different types of justice and ways that the term might be defined, justice: what’s the right thing to do by michael j. sandel, let us write you an essay from scratch.

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Poverty and The Existing Gap Between The Rich and Poor

Law, justice and judicial power, analysis of the concept of justice from plato’s point of view, martin luther king's speech: 'i have a dream', get a personalized essay in under 3 hours.

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Injustice in Treatment of Disabled People in Society

The juvenile justice system as a major concern of law enforcement, political and social injustice in america, guilty or not guilty: the delicate balance of seeking for justice in 12 angry men, american criminal justice system: the different stages of an arrest, religion and critical thinking: a union created by dostoyevsky, criminal liability: insanity and automatism, analysis of the shared relationship between ‘the press’ and ‘liberty’, what is the difference between restorative and retributive justice, the survival of the middle passage: the path to justice, respect for the law and how it can be achieved, comparison of restorative and retributive/punitive justice, the nature of us civil justice system in a civil action by jonathan harr, the moral issue of torture and war crimes, the case of lagrand brothers, a landmark case of dollree mapp in the american justice system, review on a judicial management, the  procedure for compounding, an analysis of the differences between the british and american criminal justice systems, contrast liability in tort with contractual liability.

Justice, in its broadest sense, is the principle that people receive that which they deserve, with the interpretation of what then constitutes "deserving" being impacted upon by numerous fields, with many differing viewpoints and perspectives, including the concepts of moral correctness based on ethics, rationality, law, religion, equity and fairness.

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importance of justice essay class 8

Essay on Role of Judiciary in the Country for Students and Children

500 words essay on role of judiciary in the country today.

Any judiciary is an integral part of a country, especially democracy . As India is the largest democracy, we have a big judiciary which makes sure it safeguards the interests of its citizens. Similarly, our Supreme Court is at the top of our judiciary system. It is then followed by our high courts which operate at the state level. Further, there are district courts operating at the district level. There are also many more courts below this order. A judiciary has many roles to play.

essay on role of judiciary in the country today

Role of Judiciary in India

As a judiciary is independent of the executive, it can easily safeguard the rights of the citizen to ensure peace and harmony. However, its role is not just limited to this. It plays different roles to make sure there is smooth functioning in the country.

Firstly, it plays a great role in making new laws. Judiciary is the rightful interpreter of our constitution as well as the current laws. It has the power to create new laws as well as overrule policies that might violate our constitution.

Furthermore, the judiciary also prevents any form of violation of the law. Similarly, it files a lawsuit against the person found guilty of doing the same. After that, a judge passes his verdict after listening to both parties closely and announces the judgment accordingly.

Moreover, it also acts as an advisory body. It happens more than often that the executive or legislature seeks help from the judiciary to clarify issues regarding the constitution.

Moreover, the judiciary decides upon the constitutional questions. For instance, if there is a dispute between states, they are brought to the Supreme Court where it decides how to interpret the constitution on the basis of the on-going dispute. In addition, it also looks after the administrating bit. Like it is responsible for appointing officers, maintaining records, administrating staff and more.

Most importantly, the judiciary is the protector of fundamental rights of the citizens. Everyone has the right to fundamental rights; however, sometimes people try to take them away. Thus, the judiciary ensures no such thing happens and lets every citizen live with harmony.

Get the huge list of more than 500 Essay Topics and Ideas

Importance in Today’s Scenario

A judiciary is very crucial in upholding a democracy like ours. As we all know, cases of injustice against people have risen nowadays. There is unjust discrimination happening and the judiciary must step in to stop all this.

Therefore, it becomes important more than ever to help people feel safe within their own country and homes. Judiciary checks and balances the ones who have power. This helps in preventing people from misusing that power.

In short, in today’s scenario of our country where crimes are happening rapidly, people turn to the judiciary for justice . Thus, we see how it is so very important that judiciary remains just and empowered in the times of darkness. Sometimes, it remains the single ray of hope for people, which is why it is needed more than ever now.

FAQs on Role of Judiciary in the Country Today

Q.1 What is the role of the judiciary in the country today?

A.1 The judiciary plays a major role in a democracy. It safeguards the fundamental rights of the people. Further, it makes new laws and ensures to punish anyone violating these laws. It also administers and appoints officers.

Q.2 Why is the judiciary important in the country today?

A.2 The judiciary is more important than ever now because injustice against people has risen to a great extent in our country. We need it to monitor the people and punish them for their crimes so everyone feels safe and included.

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The idea of justice occupies centre stage both in ethics, and in legal and political philosophy. We apply it to individual actions, to laws, and to public policies, and we think in each case that if they are unjust this is a strong, maybe even conclusive, reason to reject them. Classically, justice was counted as one of the four cardinal virtues (and sometimes as the most important of the four); in modern times John Rawls famously described it as ‘the first virtue of social institutions’ (Rawls 1971, p.3; Rawls, 1999, p.3). We might debate which of these realms of practical philosophy has first claim on justice: is it first and foremost a property of the law, for example, and only derivatively a property of individuals and other institutions? But it is probably more enlightening to accept that the idea has over time sunk deep roots in each of these domains, and to try to make sense of such a wide-ranging concept by identifying elements that are present whenever justice is invoked, but also examining the different forms it takes in various practical contexts. This article aims to provide a general map of the ways in which justice has been understood by philosophers, past and present.

We begin by identifying four core features that distinguish justice from other moral and political ideas. We then examine some major conceptual contrasts: between conservative and ideal justice, between corrective and distributive justice, between procedural and substantive justice, and between comparative and non-comparative justice. Next we turn to questions of scope: to who or what do principles of justice apply? We ask whether non-human animals can be subjects of justice, whether justice applies only between people who already stand in a particular kind of relationship to one another, and whether individual people continue to have duties of justice once justice-based institutions have been created. We then examine three overarching theories that might serve to unify the different forms of justice: utilitarianism, contractarianism, and egalitarianism. But it seems, in conclusion, that no such theory is likely be successful.

More detailed discussions of particular forms of justice can be found in other entries: see especially distributive justice , global justice , intergenerational justice , international distributive justice , justice and bad luck , justice as a virtue , and retributive justice .

1.1 Justice and Individual Claims

1.2 justice, charity and enforceable obligation, 1.3 justice and impartiality, 1.4 justice and agency, 2.1 conservative versus ideal justice, 2.2 corrective versus distributive justice, 2.3 procedural versus substantive justice, 2.4 comparative versus non-comparative justice, 3.1 human vs non-human animals, 3.2 relational vs non-relational justice, 3.3 individuals vs institutions, 3.4 recognition vs. redistribution, 4.1 accommodating intuitions about justice, 4.2 utilitarian theories of justice: three problems, 5.1 gauthier, 5.3 scanlon, 6.1 justice as equality, 6.2 responsibility-sensitive egalitarianism, 6.3 relational egalitarianism, 7. conclusion, other internet resources, related entries, 1. justice: mapping the concept.

‘Justice’ has sometimes been used in a way that makes it virtually indistinguishable from rightness in general. Aristotle, for example, distinguished between ‘universal’ justice that corresponded to ‘virtue as a whole’ and ‘particular’ justice which had a narrower scope (Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics , Book V, chs. 1–2). The wide sense may have been more evident in classical Greek than in modern English. But Aristotle also noted that when justice was identified with ‘complete virtue’, this was always ‘in relation to another person’. In other words, if justice is to be identified with morality as such, it must be morality in the sense of ‘what we owe to each other’ (see Scanlon 1998). But it is anyway questionable whether justice should be understood so widely. At the level of individual ethics, justice is often contrasted with charity on the one hand, and mercy on the other, and these too are other-regarding virtues. At the level of public policy, reasons of justice are distinct from, and often compete with, reasons of other kinds, for example economic efficiency or environmental value.

As this article will endeavour to show, justice takes on different meanings in different practical contexts, and to understand it fully we have to grapple with this diversity. But it is nevertheless worth asking whether we find a core concept that runs through all these various uses, or whether it is better regarded as a family resemblance idea according to which different combinations of features are expected to appear on each occasion of use. The most plausible candidate for a core definition comes from the Institutes of Justinian , a codification of Roman Law from the sixth century AD, where justice is defined as ‘the constant and perpetual will to render to each his due’. This is of course quite abstract until further specified, but it does throw light upon four important aspects of justice.

First, it shows that justice has to do with how individual people are treated (‘to each his due’). Issues of justice arise in circumstances in which people can advance claims – to freedom, opportunities, resources, and so forth – that are potentially conflicting, and we appeal to justice to resolve such conflicts by determining what each person is properly entitled to have. In contrast, where people’s interests converge, and the decision to be taken is about the best way to pursue some common purpose – think of a government official having to decide how much food to stockpile as insurance against some future emergency – justice gives way to other values. In other cases, there may be no reason to appeal to justice because resources are so plentiful that we do not need to worry about allotting shares to individuals. Hume pointed out that in a hypothetical state of abundance where ‘every individual finds himself fully provided with whatever his most voracious appetites can want’, ‘the cautious, jealous virtue of justice would never once have been dreamed of’ (Hume, An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals , pp. 183–4). Hume also believed – and philosophical controversy on this point persists until today – that justice has no place in close personal relationships, such as the family, where (it is alleged) each identifies with the others’ interests so strongly that there is no need and no reason for anyone to make claims of personal entitlement. (See Sandel 1982 for a defence of this view; for a critique, see Okin 1989. See also the entry on feminist perspectives on reproduction and the family) .

That justice is a matter of how each separate person is treated appears to create problems for theories such as utilitarianism that judge actions and policies on the basis of their overall consequences aggregated across people – assuming that these theories wish to incorporate rather than discard the idea of justice. In Section 4 below we examine how utilitarians have attempted to respond to this challenge.

Although justice is centrally a matter of how individuals are treated, it is also possible to speak of justice for groups – for example when the state is allocating resources between different categories of citizens. Here each group is being treated as though it were a separate individual for purposes of the allocation.

Second, Justinian’s definition underlines that just treatment is something due to each person, in other words that justice is a matter of claims that can be rightfully made against the agent dispensing justice, whether a person or an institution. Here there is a contrast with other virtues: we demand justice, but we beg for charity or forgiveness. This also means that justice is a matter of obligation for the agent dispensing it, and that the agent wrongs the recipient if the latter is denied what is due to her. It is a characteristic mark of justice that the obligations it creates should be enforceable: we can be made to deliver what is due to others as a matter of justice, either by the recipients themselves or by third parties. However it overstates the position to make the enforceability of its requirements a defining feature of justice (see Buchanan 1987). On the one hand, there are some claims of justice that seem not to be enforceable (by anyone). When we dispense gifts to our children or our friends, we ought to treat each recipient fairly, but neither the beneficiaries themselves nor anyone else can rightfully force the giver to do so. On the other hand, in cases of extreme emergency, it may sometimes be justifiable to force people to do more than justice requires them to do – there may exist enforceable duties of humanity. But these are rare exceptions. The obligatory nature of justice generally goes hand-in-hand with enforceability.

The third aspect of justice to which Justinian’s definition draws our attention is the connection between justice and the impartial and consistent application of rules – that is what the ‘constant and perpetual will’ part of the definition conveys. Justice is the opposite of arbitrariness. It requires that where two cases are relevantly alike, they should be treated in the same way (We discuss below the special case of justice and lotteries). Following a rule that specifies what is due to a person who has features X , Y , Z whenever such a person is encountered ensures this. And although the rule need not be unchangeable – perpetual in the literal sense – it must be relatively stable. This explains why justice is exemplified in the rule of law, where laws are understood as general rules impartially applied over time. Outside of the law itself, individuals and institutions that want to behave justly must mimic the law in certain ways (for instance, gathering reliable information about individual claimants, allowing for appeals against decisions).

Finally, the definition reminds us that justice requires an agent whose will alters the circumstances of its objects. The agent might be an individual person, or it might be a group of people, or an institution such as the state. So we cannot, except metaphorically, describe as unjust states of affairs that no agent has contributed to bringing about – unless we think that there is a Divine Being who has ordered the universe in such a way that every outcome is a manifestation of His will. Admittedly we are tempted to make judgements of what is sometimes called ‘cosmic injustice’ – say when a talented person’s life is cut cruelly short by cancer, or our favourite football team is eliminated from the competition by a freak goal – but this is a temptation we should resist.

This agency condition, however, is less restrictive than it might at first appear. It by no means excludes the possibility that agents can create injustice by omission – for example by failing to create the institutions or to enact the policies that would deliver vital resources to those who need them. Thus it is now common to speak of ‘systemic injustice’ in the case of bad outcomes that no-one intends to occur but that could be prevented by a shift in social norms or institutional practices. The agents in these cases are all those who by acting together to change these things could invert the injustice, but have so far failed to do so.

2. Justice: Four Distinctions

We have so far looked at four elements that are present in every use of the concept of justice. Now it is time to consider some equally important contrasts.

Philosophers writing on justice have observed that it has two different faces, one conservative of existing norms and practices, the other demanding reform of these norms and practices (see Sidgwick 1874/1907, Raphael 2001). Thus on the one hand it is a matter of justice to respect people’s rights under existing law or moral rules, or more generally to fulfil the legitimate expectations they have acquired as a result of past practice, social conventions, and so forth; on the other hand, justice often gives us reason to change laws, practices and conventions quite radically, thereby creating new entitlements and expectations. This exposes an ambiguity in what it means to ‘render each his due’. What is ‘due’ might be what a person can reasonably expect to have given existing law, policy, or social practice, or it might be what the person should get under a regime of ideal justice: this could mean what the person deserves, or needs, or is entitled to on grounds of equality, depending on which ideal principle is being invoked.

Conceptions of justice vary according to the weight they attach to each of these faces. At one extreme, some conceptions interpret justice as wholly concerned with what individuals can claim under existing laws and social conventions: thus for Hume, justice was to be understood as adherence to a set of rules that assign physical objects to individuals (such as being the first possessor of such an object) (Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature , Book III, Part II). These rules can be explained by reference to the natural associations that form in people’s minds between persons and external objects, and although the system of justice as a whole can be shown to be socially useful, there are no relevant independent standards by which its principles can be assessed (Hume briskly dismissed equality and merit as principles for allocating property to persons). In similar vein, Hayek argued that justice was a property of individual behaviour, understood as compliance with the ‘rules of just conduct’ that had evolved to enable a market economy to function effectively. For Hayek, to speak of ‘social justice’ as an ideal standard of distribution was as meaningless as to speak of a ‘moral stone’ (Hayek 1976, p. 78)

At the other extreme stand conceptions of justice which posit some ideal principle of distribution such as equality, together with a ‘currency’ specifying the respect in which justice requires people to be made equally well off, and then refuse to acknowledge the justice of any claims that do not arise directly from the application of this principle. Thus claims deriving from existing law or practice are dismissed unless they happen to coincide with what the principle requires. More often, however, ideal justice is seen as proposing principles by which existing institutions and practices can be assessed, with a view to reforming them, or in the extreme case abolishing them entirely, while the claims that people already have under those practices are given some weight. Rawls, for example, whose two principles of justice count as ideal principles for this purpose, is at pains to stress that they are not intended to be applied in a way that disregards people’s existing legitimate expectations. About the ‘difference principle’, which requires social and economic inequalities to be regulated so that they work to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged members of society, he says:

It applies to the announced system of public law and statutes and not to particular transactions or distributions, nor to the decisions of individuals and associations, but rather to the institutional background against which these transactions and decisions take place. There are no unannounced and unpredictable interferences with citizens’ expectations and acquisitions. Entitlements are earned and honored as the public system of rules declares. (Rawls 1993, p. 283)

Here we see Rawls attempting to reconcile the demands of conservative and ideal justice. Yet he does not directly address the question of what should happen when changing circumstances mean that the difference principle requires new laws or policies to be enacted: do those whose prior entitlements or expectations are no longer met have a claim to be compensated for their loss? We could call this the question of transitional justice (though this phrase is often used now in a more specific sense to refer to the process of reconciliation that may occur following civil war or other armed conflicts: see the entry on transitional justice ).

A second important contrast, whose pedigree reaches back at least as far as Aristotle, is between justice as a principle for assigning distributable goods of various kinds to individual people, and justice as a remedial principle that applies when one person wrongly interferes with another’s legitimate holdings. Thus suppose Bill steals Alice’s computer, or sells Alice faulty goods which he claims to be in perfect order: then Alice suffers a loss, which justice demands that Bill should remedy by returning the computer or fulfilling his contract honestly. Corrective justice, then, essentially concerns a bilateral relationship between a wrongdoer and his victim, and demands that the fault be cancelled by restoring the victim to the position she would have been in had the wrongful behaviour not occurred; it may also require that the wrongdoer not benefit from his faulty behaviour. Distributive justice, on the other hand, is multilateral: it assumes a distributing agent, and a number of persons who have claims on what is being distributed. Justice here requires that the resources available to the distributor be shared according to some relevant criterion, such as equality, desert, or need. In Aristotle’s example, if there are fewer flutes available than people who want to play them, they should be given to the best performers (Aristotle, The Politics , p. 128). In modern debates, principles of distributive justice are applied to social institutions such as property and tax systems, which are understood as producing distributive outcomes across large societies, or even the world as a whole.

The conceptual distinction between distributive and corrective justice seems clear, but their normative relationship is more difficult to pin down (see Perry 2000, Ripstein 2004, Coleman 1992, chs. 16–17). Some have claimed that corrective justice is merely instrumental to distributive justice: its aim is to move from a situation of distributive injustice brought about by the faulty behaviour to one that is more nearly (if not perfectly) distributively just. But this view runs into a number of objections. One is that so long as Alice has a legitimate title to her computer, her claim of corrective justice against Bill does not depend on her having had, prior to the theft, the share of resources that distributive justice ideally demands. She might be richer than she deserves to be, yet corrective justice still require that the computer be returned to her. In other words, corrective justice may serve to promote conservative rather than ideal justice, to use the distinction introduced in 2.1. Another objection is that corrective justice requires the wrongdoer himself to restore or compensate the person he has wronged, even if the cause of distributive justice could be better served by transferring resources from a third party – giving Alice one of even-more-undeservedly-rich Charles’s computers, for example. This underlines the bilateral nature of corrective justice, and also the fact that it comes into play in response to faulty behaviour on someone’s part. Its primary demand is that people should not lose out because others have behaved wrongfully or carelessly, but it also encompasses the idea that ‘no man should profit by his own wrong’. If Alice loses her computer in a boating accident, she might, under an insurance scheme, have a claim of distributive justice to a new machine, but she has no claim of corrective justice.

If corrective justice cannot be subsumed normatively under distributive justice, we need to explain its value. What is achieved when we make Bill return the computer to Alice? Aristotle ( Nicomachean Ethics , Book V, ch. 4) suggested that corrective justice aims to restore the two parties to a position of equality; by returning the computer we cancel both Bill’s unjustified gain and Alice’s unjustified loss. But this assumes that the computer can be returned intact. Corrective justice requires that Alice be made no worse off than she was before the theft, even if that means Bill suffering an absolute loss (e.g. by paying for a new computer if he has damaged Alice’s). Aristotle himself recognized that the idea of evening out gain and loss made no literal sense in a case where one person assaults another and has to compensate him for his injury – there is no ‘gain’ to be redistributed. It seems, then, that the value of corrective justice must lie in the principle that each person must take responsibility for his own conduct, and if he fails to respect the legitimate interests of others by causing injury, he must make good the harm. In that way, each person can plan her life secure in the knowledge that she will be protected against certain kinds of external setbacks. Philosophers and lawyers writing on corrective justice disagree about what standard of responsibility should apply – for example whether compensation is required only when one person wilfully or negligently causes another to suffer loss, or whether it can also be demanded when the perpetrator displays no such fault but is nevertheless causally responsible for the injury.

A third distinction that must be drawn is between the justice of the procedures that might be used to determine how benefits and burdens of various kinds are allocated to people, and the justice of the final allocation itself. It might initially seem as though the justice of a procedure can be reduced to the justice of the results produced by applying it, but this is not so. For one thing, there are cases in which the idea of an independently just outcome makes no sense. A coin toss is a fair way of deciding who starts a game, but neither the Blues nor the Reds have a claim of justice to bat first or kick off. But even where a procedure has been shaped by a concern that it should produce substantively just outcomes, it may still have special properties that make it intrinsically just. In that case, using a different procedure to produce the same result might be objectionable. In an influential discussion, John Rawls contrasted perfect procedural justice , where a procedure is such that if it is followed a just outcome is guaranteed (requiring the person who cuts a cake to take the last slice himself is the illustration Rawls provides), imperfect procedural justice , where the procedure is such that following it is likely, but not certain, to produce the just result, and pure procedural justice , such as the coin-tossing example, where there is no independent way to assess the outcome – if we call it just, it is only on the grounds that it has come about by following the relevant procedure (Rawls 1971, 1999, § 14).

Theories of justice can then be distinguished according to the relative weight they attach to procedures and substantive outcomes. Some theories are purely procedural in form. Robert Nozick distinguished between historical theories of justice, end-state theories, and patterned theories in order to defend the first against the second and third (Nozick 1974). An end-state theory defines justice in terms of some overall property of a distribution (of resources, welfare, etc.) – for example whether it is egalitarian, or whether the lowest position in the distribution is as high as it can be, as Rawls’ difference principle requires. A patterned theory looks at whether what each receives as part of a distribution matches some individual feature such as their desert or their need. By contrast, an historical theory asks about the process by which the final outcome has arisen. In Nozick’s particular case, a distribution of resources is said to be just if everyone within its scope is entitled to what they now own, having acquired it by legitimate means – such as voluntary contract or gift – from someone who was also entitled to have it, leading back eventually to a just act of acquisition – such as labouring on a plot of land – that gave the first owner his valid title. The shape of the final distribution is irrelevant: according to Nozick, justice is entirely a matter of the sequence of prior events that created it (for critical assessments of Nozick’s position, see Paul 1982, Wolff 1991, Cohen 1995, chs. 1–2).

For most philosophers, however, the justice of a procedure is to a large extent a function of the justice of the outcomes that it tends to produce when applied. For instance, the procedures that together make up a fair trial are justified on the grounds that for the most part they produce outcomes in which the guilty are punished and the innocent are acquitted. Yet even in these cases, we should be wary of assuming that the procedure itself has no independent value. We can ask of a procedure whether it treats the people to whom it is applied justly, for example by giving them adequate opportunities to advance their claims, not requiring them to provide personal information that they find humiliating to reveal, and so forth. Studies by social psychologists have shown that in many cases people care more about being treated fairly by the institutions they have to deal with than about how they fare when the procedure’s final result is known (Lind and Tyler 1988).

Justice takes a comparative form when to determine what is due to one person we need to look at what others can also claim: to determine how large a slice of pie is rightfully John’s, we have to know how many others have a claim to the pie, and also what the principle for sharing it should be – equality, or something else. Justice takes a non-comparative form when we can determine what is due to a person merely by knowing relevant facts about that particular person: if John has already been promised the whole of the pie, then that is what he can rightfully claim for himself. Some theories of justice seem to imply that justice is always a comparative notion – for example when it is said that justice consists in the absence of arbitrary inequality – whereas others imply that it is always non-comparative. But conceptually, at least, both forms seem admissible; indeed we can find cases in which it appears we have to choose between doing justice comparatively and doing it non-comparatively (see Feinberg 1974; for a critical response, see Montague 1980). For example, we might have several candidates all of whom are roughly equally deserving of an academic honour, but the number of honours we are permitted to award is smaller than the number of candidates. If we honour some but not others, we perpetrate a comparative injustice, but if to avoid doing so we honour no-one at all, then each is treated less well than they deserve, and so unjustly from a non-comparative perspective.

Theories of justice can then be categorised according to whether they are comparative, non-comparative, or neither. Principles of equality – principles requiring the equal distribution of some kind of benefit – are plainly comparative in form, since what is due to each person is simply an equal share of the benefit in question rather than any fixed amount. In the case of principles of desert, the position is less straightforward. These principles take the form ‘ A deserves X by virtue of P ’, where X is a mode of treatment, and P is a personal characteristic possessed by A (Feinberg 1970). In the case of both X and P , we can ask whether they are to be identified comparatively or non-comparatively. Thus what A deserves might either be an entitlement, or an absolute amount of some benefit – ‘a living wage’, say – or it might be a share of some collective benefit, or a multiple or fraction of what others are receiving – ‘twice what B is getting’, say. Turning to P , or what is often called the desert basis, this may be a feature of A that we can identify without reference to anyone else, or it may be a comparative feature, such as being the best student in a graduating class. So desert-based claims of justice might take one of four different forms depending on whether the basis of desert and/or the deserved mode of treatment is comparative or non-comparative (see Olsaretti 2003 for essays that address this question; for a more advanced treatment, see Kagan 2012, Part III).

Among principles of justice that are straightforwardly non-comparative are ‘sufficiency’ principles which hold that what justice requires is that each person should have ‘enough’, on some dimension or other – for instance, have all of their needs fulfilled, or have a specified set of capabilities that they are able to exercise (for a general defence of sufficiency, though not one that links it specifically to justice, see Frankfurt 2015; for a critique, see Casal 2007). Such principles, however, need to be supplemented by other principles, not only to tell us what to do with the surplus (assuming there is one) once everyone has sufficient resources, but also to guide us in situations where there are too few resources to bring everyone up to the sufficiency threshold. Should we, for example, maximise the number of people who achieve sufficiency, or minimise the aggregate shortfall suffered by those in the relevant group? Unless we are prepared to say that these are not matters of justice, a theory of justice that contains only the sufficiency principle and nothing else looks incomplete.

Some theories of justice cannot readily be classified either as comparative or as non-comparative. Consider one part of Rawls’ theory of social justice, the difference principle, which as noted above requires that social and economic inequalities be arranged to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged (Rawls 1971, 1999, §12–13). Under this principle, ideally just shares are calculated by determining what each person would receive under the set of social institutions whose economic effect is to raise the worst off person to the highest possible level. This is neither a fixed amount, nor one that depends in any direct sense on what other individuals are receiving, or should receive. Applying the difference principle does require making comparisons, but these are comparisons between the effects of different social institutions – say different tax laws, or different ways of defining property rights – not between individual people and the amounts of benefit they are receiving. We might call theories of this kind ‘holistic’ or ‘systemic’.

3. The Scope of Justice

When we raise questions about the scope of justice, we are asking about when principles of justice take effect and among whom . We have already, when discussing Hume, encountered the idea that there might be circumstances in which justice becomes irrelevant – circumstances in which resources are so abundant that it is pointless to allocate individual shares, or, as Hume also believed, in which resources are so scarce that everyone is permitted to grab what he can in the name of self-preservation. But even in circumstances that are less extreme than these, questions about scope arise. Who can make claims of justice, and who might have the corresponding obligation to meet them? Does this depend on the kind of thing that is being claimed? If comparative principles are being applied, who should be counted as part of the comparison group? Do some principles of justice have universal scope – they apply whenever agent A acts towards recipient B , regardless of the relationship between them – while others are contextual in character, applying only within social or political relationships of a certain kind? The present section examines some of these questions in greater detail.

What does a creature have to do, or be like, to be included within the scope of (at least some) principles of justice? Most past philosophers have assumed that the line should be drawn so as to exclude all non-human animals, but more recently some have been prepared to defend ‘justice for animals’ (Nussbaum 2006, ch. 6; Garner 2013). Against this, Rawls asserts that although we have ‘duties of compassion and humanity’ towards animals and should refrain from treating them cruelly, nonetheless they are ‘outside the scope of the theory of justice’ (Rawls 1971, p. 512; Rawls 1999, p. 448). How could this claim be justified?

We can focus our attention either on individual features that humans possess and animals lack, and that might be thought relevant to their inclusion within the scope of justice, or on asymmetries in the relationship between humans and other animals. To begin with the latter, Hume claimed that the domination humans exercised over animals – such that an animal could only possess something by virtue of our permission – meant that we were ‘bound by the laws of humanity to give gentle usage to these creatures, but should not, properly speaking, lie under any restraint of justice with regard to them’ (Hume, Enquiry , p. 190). For Rawls and those influenced by him, principles of distributive justice apply among agents who are related to one another as participants in a ‘cooperative venture for mutual advantage’, and this might seem to exclude animals from the scope of such principles. Critics of this view have pointed to cases of human-animal co-operation (Donaldson and Kymlicka 2011, Valentini 2014); however these arguments focus mainly or entirely on the special case of dogs , and it seems implausible to generalise from them in an attempt to show that human-animal relationships generally have a co-operative character.

But the claim that justice only applies to participants in co-operative practices is anyway vulnerable to the objection that it risks excluding seriously disabled people, people living in isolated communities, and future generations from the scope of justice, so it does not seem compelling as a claim about justice in general (see further below). Might there be other reasons why animals cannot make claims of justice on us? Another Rawls-inspired suggestion is that animals lack the necessary moral powers, in particular the capacity to act on principles of justice themselves. They cannot distinguish what is justly owed to them from what is not; and they cannot determine what they owe to others – whether to humans or to other non-human animals – as a matter of justice. This suggestion interprets justice as involving a kind of reciprocity: an agent to whom justice is due must also in principle be an agent who could dispense justice to others, by virtue of having the relevant capacity, even if for physical reasons – such as suffering from severe disability – they cannot do so in practice.

If this suggestion is rejected, and we allow that some animals, at least, should be included within the scope of justice, we can then ask about the form that justice should take in their cases. Using the distinction drawn in 2.4 above, it appears that justice for animals must be non-comparative. For example, we might attribute rights to the animals over whom we exercise power – rights against cruel treatment, and rights to food and shelter, for instance. This would involve using a sufficiency principle to determine what animals are owed as a matter of justice. It is much less plausible to think that comparative principles might apply, such that giving special treats to one cat but not another could count as an injustice.

The Rawlsian view introduced in the previous section, which holds that principles of social justice apply among people who are engaged together in a co-operative practice, is a leading example of a relational theory of justice. Other theories offer different accounts of the relevant justice-generating feature: for example, Nagel has argued that principles of distributive justice apply among people who by virtue of being citizens of the same state are required both to comply with, and accept responsibility for, the coercive laws that govern their lives (Nagel 2005). In both cases, the claim being made is that when people stand in a certain relationship to one another, they become subject to principles of justice whose scope is limited to those within the relationship. In particular, comparative principles apply within the relationship, but not beyond it. If A stands in a relationship (of the right kind) to B , then it becomes a matter of justice how A is treated relative to B , but it does not matter in the same way how A is treated relative to C who stands outside of the relationship. Justice may still require that C be given treatment of a certain kind, but that will be justice in its non-comparative guise.

Whether justice is relational in either of the ways that Rawls and Nagel suggest has large implications for its scope. In particular it bears on the question whether there is such a thing as global distributive justice, or, in contrast, whether distributive principles only apply to people who are related together as members of the same society or citizens of the same state. For example, might the global inequalities that exist between rich and poor in today’s world be unjust simply as inequalities, or are they unjust only insofar as they prevent poor people from living lives that we judge to be acceptable? (see entries on international distributive justice and global justice ) So much hangs on the question whether, and if so in virtue of what, distributive justice has a relational character. What reason can be given for thinking that it does?

Suppose we have two people A and B , of whom one is significantly better off than another – has greater opportunities or a higher income, say. Why should this be a concern of justice? It seems it will not be a concern unless it can be shown that the inequality between A and B can be attributed to the behaviour of some agent, individual or collective, whose actions or omissions have resulted in A being better off than B – in which case we can ask whether the inequality between them is justifiable, say on grounds of their respective deserts. This reiterates the claim in 1.4 above that without an agent to whom the outcome can be attributed there can only be justice or injustice in a metaphorical, ‘cosmic’, sense. Relational theorists claim that when people associate with one another in the relevant way, they become agents of justice. On a small scale they can organize informally to ensure that each receives what is due to him relative to the rest. On a larger scale, distributive justice requires the creation of legal and other institutions to achieve that outcome. Moreover failure to co-ordinate their actions in this way is likely to be a source of injustice by omission.

Debates about the scope of justice then become debates about whether different forms of human association are of the right kind to create agency in the relevant sense. Take the question of whether principles of social justice should apply to market transactions. If we see the market as a neutral arena in which many individual people freely pursue their own purposes, then the answer will be No. The only form of justice that arises will be justice in the conduct of each agent, who must avoid inflicting harm on others, must fulfil her contracts, and so forth. Whereas if we see the market as governed by a humanly-constructed system of rules that the participants collectively have the power to change – by legislation, for example – then we cannot avoid asking whether the outcomes it currently produces meet relevant standards of distributive justice, whatever we take these to be. A similar issue arises in the debate about over principles of global justice referred to above: is the current world order such that it makes sense to regard humanity as a whole as a collective agent responsible for the distributive outcomes it allows to occur?

Once institutions are established for the purpose (among other things) of delivering justice on a large scale, we can ask what duties of justice individual people have in consequence. Is their duty simply to support the institutions, and comply with whatever rules of conduct apply to them personally? Or do they have further duties to promote justice by acting directly on the relevant principles in their daily lives? No one doubts that some duties of justice fall directly on individuals, for example duties not to deceive or defraud when engaging in commercial transactions (and duties of corrective justice where behaviour is faulty), or duties to carry out one’s fair share of an informally organized project from which one expects to benefit, such as cleaning up the neighbourhood park. Others fall on them because they are performing a role within a social institution, for example the duty of an employer not to discriminate on grounds of race or gender when hiring workers, or the duty of a local government officer to assign public housing to those in greatest need. But what is much more in dispute is whether individual people have more extensive duties to promote social justice (for contrasting views, see Cohen 2008, ch. 3, Murphy 1998, Rawls 1993, Lecture VII, Young 2011, ch. 2).

Consider two cases: the first concerns parents who confer advantages on their children in ways that undermine fair equality of opportunity. If the latter principle of justice requires, to cite Rawls, that ‘those who have the same level of talent and ability and the same willingness to use these gifts should have the same prospects of success regardless of their social class of origin’ (Rawls 2001, p. 44) then there are myriad ways in which some parents can bestow advantages on their children that other parents cannot – financial benefits, educational opportunities, social contacts, and so forth – that are likely to bring greater success in later life. Are parents therefore constrained as a matter of justice to avoid conferring at least some of these advantages, or are they free to benefit their children as they choose, leaving the pursuit of equal opportunities entirely in the hands of the state (for a careful analysis, see Brighouse and Swift 2014)?

The second example concerns wage differentials. Might individuals whose talents can bring them high rewards in the labour market have a duty not to make use of their bargaining power, but instead be willing to work for a fair wage – which if fairness is understood in egalitarian terms might mean the same wage as everyone else (perhaps with extra compensation for those whose labour is unusually burdensome)? Rawls, as we saw above, argued that economic justice meant arranging social and economic inequalities to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged, and in formulating the principle in this way he assumed that some inequalities might serve as incentives to greater production that would also raise the position of the worst-off group in society. But if individuals were willing to forego incentives, and so economic inequalities served no useful purpose, then the arrangement that worked to the greatest benefit of the (otherwise) least advantaged would be one of strict equality. Cohen (2008) argues that Rawls’ position is internally inconsistent. As citizens designing our institutions we are supposed to be guided by the difference principle, but as private actors in the marketplace, we are permitted to ignore that principle and bargain for higher wages, even though doing so will work to the disadvantage of the worst-off group. Justice, according to Cohen, requires us to embrace an ethos of service that disdains material incentives.

Why might we hesitate before agreeing that in cases such as these, justice requires people to refrain from doing things that they are permitted to do by the public rules of their society (passing on benefits to their children; seeking higher wages)? One reason is that the refraining is only going to have a significant effect if it is practised on a large scale, and individuals have no assurance that others will follow their example; meanwhile they (or their children) will lose out relative to the less scrupulous. A connected reason has to do with publicity: it may be hard to detect whether people are following the required ethos or not (see Williams 1998). Is the person who sends her child to a private school because she claims he has special needs that the local state school cannot meet being sincere, or is she just trying to buy him comparative advantage? How can we tell whether the person who claims more money, but merely, he says, as compensation for the unusual stress that his work involves, is reporting honestly? (for Cohen’s response, see Cohen 2008, ch. 8) It appears, then, that there are principles of justice that apply to what Rawls calls ‘the basic structure of society [as] a public system of rules’ that do not apply in the same way to the personal behaviour of the individuals who live within that structure. Attending to the scope , as well as the content , of justice is important.

Recent philosophical writing on justice has drawn attention to forms of injustice that do not involve the material treatment that people receive, either from other persons or from institutions, but the harms they suffer through failures of recognition. They are impacted by social norms and social practices that diminish their sense of agency and induce them to see themselves as of lesser value than others. Here then justice is understood as being adequately and appropriately recognized, and injustice as involving failures of recognition, or in some cases ‘misrecognition’, when a person is placed in a category or assigned an identity that is not their own. In one influential formulation of this idea, ‘it is unjust that some individuals and groups are denied the status of full partners in social interaction simply as a consequence of institutionalized patterns of cultural value in whose construction they have not equally participated and which disparage their distinctive characteristics or the distinctive characteristics assigned to them’ (Fraser in Fraser and Honneth 2003, p. 29).

What, then, does it mean to be recognized? In general it means to be viewed and treated by others in the way that is appropriate to the features that you possess, but most philosophers regard recognition as multidimensional. In particular, they distinguish between being recognized as an equal, where a person is accorded the kind of standing that gives them an equal status with other members of the relevant group, and being recognized for having characteristics, achievements or an identity that may be uniquely their own. Recognition in this second sense may involve the unequal granting of social esteem. Justice as recognition, therefore, is internally complex. At the social level, Axel Honneth distinguishes ‘three forms of social recognition, based in the sphere-specific principles of love, equal legal treatment, and social esteem’ (Fraser and Honneth 2003 p. 180)

The question that arises is how best to understand the relationship between justice of this kind and distributive justice, involving the allocation of material resources and so forth. For Honneth, justice as recognition is understood expansively so that it can also capture issues of economic justice, the thought being that the harm inflicted when, say, labour is not adequately rewarded can be understood as a failure to offer adequate recognition of the worker’s social contribution. For Nancy Fraser, by contrast, recognition and redistribution are seen as two mutually irreducible but jointly necessary conditions for social justice. Failures of recognition can be experienced by some among the economically privileged – such as ‘the African-American Wall Street banker who cannot get a taxi to pick him up’ (Fraser and Honneth 2003, p. 34). Justice as recognition requires cultural shifts in the way that different forms of identity and different types of achievement are valued that are independent of the institutional changes required to achieve distributive justice.

A particular form of recognitional injustice is epistemic injustice as diagnosed by Miranda Fricker (Fricker 2007). This occurs when someone is wronged in their capacity as a source of knowledge, and it takes two main forms: testimonial injustice and hermeneutic injustice. As Fricker explains ‘testimonial injustice occurs when prejudice causes a hearer to give a deflated level of credibility to a speaker’s word; hermeneutical injustice occurs at a prior stage when a gap in collective interpretive resources puts someone as at an unfair disadvantage when it comes to making sense of their social experiences’ (Fricker 2007, p. 1). She argues that testimonial injustice matters for two reasons. First, the person who suffers from it is less able to protect or advance their interests – for example they are less likely to be believed when having to defend themselves in court. Second, since others are unwilling to regard them as competent sources of knowledge, they may lose trust in their own capacity to know, leading in some cases to ‘prolonged self-doubt and loss of intellectual confidence’.

Hermeneutical injustice arises in the context of unequal relationships in which the subordinated party lacks the concept or concepts needed to make sense of their experience (and thereby to challenge their subordination). Fricker uses the example of a woman who suffered sexual harassment at the time before feminists had developed that concept, and so had no adequate word to describe what she was experiencing. Hermeneutical injustice matters most when it is systematic, brought about by power inequalities that leave certain groups ‘hermeneutically marginalised’. However she treats epistemic justice as a virtue that individual hearers can develop, in contrast to recognition theorists like Fraser and Honneth for whom achieving recognitional justice requires collective action to change social and cultural norms on the part of misrecognized groups.

4. Utilitarianism and Justice

Can justice be understood in utilitarian terms? This may in the first place depend on how we interpret utilitarianism. We treat it here as a normative theory whose aim is to supply a criterion – the greatest happiness principle – that can be used, directly or indirectly, both by individuals and by institutions (such as states) in deciding what to do, rather than simply as a tool for evaluating states of affairs. Utilitarianism cannot plausibly provide a theory of justice unless it is interpreted in this action-guiding way, in light of what was said above about justice and agency. We also assume that the most likely candidate will be a rule-utilitarian view that treats principles of justice as belonging to the set of rules which when followed by the relevant agents will tend to produce the greatest total utility (for different ways of formulating this view, see the entry on rule consequentialism) .

Most utilitarians have regarded it as part of their task in defending utilitarianism to show that it can both accommodate and explain much of what we intuitively believe about justice. This is certainly true of two of the greatest among them, John Stuart Mill and Sidgwick, both of whom went to considerable lengths to show that familiar principles of justice could be given a utilitarian rationale (Mill Utilitarianism , ch. 5; Sidgwick 1874/1907, Book III, ch.5). Bentham, in contrast, was more cavalier: ‘justice, in the only sense in which it has a meaning, is an imaginary personage, feigned for the convenience of discourse, whose dictates are the dictates of utility, applied to certain particular cases’ ( The Principles of Morals and Legislation , pp. 125–6). If we follow the lead of Mill and Sidgwick in wishing to take seriously how justice is commonly understood, the utilitarian has two challenges to face. First he or she must show that the demands of justice as commonly understood correspond roughly to the rules that when followed by persons, or implemented by institutions, are most conducive to the greatest happiness. They need not mirror the latter exactly, because utilitarians will argue, as both Mill and Sidgwick did, that our intuitions about justice are often ambiguous or internally inconsistent, but there must be enough overlap to warrant the claim that what the utilitarian theory can accommodate and explain is indeed justice . (As Sidgwick (1874/1907, p. 264) put it, ‘we may, so to speak, clip the ragged edge of common usage, but we must not make excision of any considerable portion’.) Second, some explanation must be given for the distinctiveness of justice. Why do we have a concept that is used to mark off a particular set of requirements and claims if the normative basis for these requirements and claims is nothing other than general utility? What accounts for our intuitive sense of justice? The task confronting the utilitarian, then, is to systematize our understanding of justice without obliterating it.

By way of illustration, both Mill and Sidgwick recognize that desert , of both reward and punishment, is a key component of common understandings of justice, but they argue that if we remain at the level of common sense when we try to analyse it, we run into irresolvable contradictions. For instance, we are inclined to think that a person’s deserts should depend on what they have actually achieved – say the economic value of what they have produced – but also, because achievement will depend on factors for which the person in question can claim no credit, such as inborn talent, that their deserts should depend only on factors for which they are directly responsible, such as the amount of effort they expend. Each of these conceptions, when put into practice, would lead to a quite different schedule of rewards, and the only means to escape the impasse, these utilitarians claim, is to ask which schedule will generate most utility by directing people’s choices and efforts in the most socially productive way. Similar reasoning applies to the principles of punishment: the rules we should follow are the rules that are most conducive to the ends for which punishment is instituted, such as deterring crime.

To explain the distinctiveness of justice, Mill suggests that it designates moral requirements that, because of their very great importance to human well-being, people have a right to have discharged, and are therefore matters of perfect obligation. A person who commits an injustice is always liable to punishment of some kind, he argues. So he explains our sense of justice in terms of the resentment we feel towards someone who breaches these requirements. Sidgwick, who laid greater stress than Mill on the connection between justice and law, also underlined the relationship between justice and gratitude, on one side, and resentment, on the other, in order to capture the way in which our concern for justice seems to differ from our concern for utility in general.

Yet despite these efforts to reconcile justice and utility, three serious obstacles still remain. The first concerns what we might call the currency of justice: justice has to do with the way that tangible benefits and burdens are assigned, and not with the happiness or unhappiness that the assignees experience. It is a matter of justice, for example, that people should be paid the right amount for the jobs that they do, but, special circumstances aside, it is no concern of justice that John derives more satisfaction from his fairly-earned income than Jane does from hers (but see Cohen 1989 for a different view). There is so to speak, a division of labour, under which rights, opportunities, and material benefits of various kinds are allocated by principles of justice, while the conversion of these into units of utility (or disutility) is the responsibility of each individual recipient (see Dworkin 2000, ch. 1). Utilitarians will therefore find it hard to explain what from their point of view seems to be the fetishistic concern of justice over how the means to happiness are distributed, rather than happiness itself.

The second obstacle is that utilitarianism judges outcomes by totalling up utility levels, and has no independent concern for how that utility is distributed between persons. So even if we set aside the currency issue, utilitarian theory seems unable to capture justice’s demand that each should receive what is due to her regardless of the total amount of benefit this generates. Defenders of utilitarianism will argue that when the conduct-guiding rules are being formulated, attention will be paid to distributive questions. In particular, when resources are being distributed among people we know little about individually, there are good reasons to favour equality, since in most cases resources have diminishing marginal utility – the more of them you have, the less satisfaction you derive from additional instalments. Yet this is only a contingent matter. If some people are very adept at turning resources into well-being – they are so-called ‘utility monsters’ – then a utilitarian should support a rule that privileges them. This seems repugnant to justice. As Rawls famously put the general point, ‘each member of society is thought to have an inviolability founded on justice which….even the welfare of every one else cannot override’ (Rawls 1971, p. 28; Rawls 1999, pp. 24–25).

The third and final difficulty stems from utilitarianism’s thoroughgoing consequentialism. Rules are assessed strictly in the light of the consequences of adopting then, not in terms of their intrinsic properties. Of course, when agents follow rules, they are meant to do what the rule requires rather than to calculate consequences directly. But for a utilitarian, it is never going to be a good reason for adopting a rule that it will give people what they deserve or what they are entitled to, when desert or entitlement are created by events in the past, such as a person’s having performed a worthwhile action or entered an agreement. Backward-looking reasons have to be transmuted into forward-looking reasons in order to count. If a rule such as pacta sunt servanda (‘agreements must be kept’) is going to be adopted on utilitarian grounds, this is not because there is any inherent wrongness in defaulting on a compact one has made, but because a rule that compacts must be kept is a useful one, since it allows people to co-ordinate their behaviour knowing that their expectations about the future are likely to be met. But justice, although not always backward-looking in the sense explained, often is. What is due to a person is in many cases what they deserve for what they have done, or what they are entitled to by virtue of past transactions. So even if it were possible to construct a forward-looking rationale for having rules that closely tracked desert or entitlement as these are normally understood, the utilitarian still cannot capture the sense of justice – why it matters that people should get what is due to then – that informs our common-sense judgements.

Utilitarians might reply that their reconstruction preserves what is rationally defensible in common sense beliefs while what it discards are elements that cannot survive sustained critical reflection. But this would bring them closer to Bentham’s view that justice, as commonly understood, is nothing but a ‘phantom’.

5. Contractarianism and Justice

The shortcomings of utilitarianism have prompted several recent philosophers to revive the old idea of the social contract as a better way of bringing coherence to our thinking about justice. The idea here is not that people actually have entered a contract to establish justice, or that they should proceed to do so, but that we can understand justice better by asking the question: what principles to govern their institutions, practices and personal behaviour would people choose to adopt if they all had to agree on them in advance? The contract, in other words, is hypothetical; but the search for agreement is meant to ensure that the principles chosen would, when implemented, not lead to outcomes that people could not accept. Thus whereas a utilitarian might, under some circumstances, be prepared to support slavery – if the misery of the slaves were outweighed by the heightened pleasures of the slave-owners – contractarians claims that no-one could accept a principle permitting slavery, lest they themselves were destined to be slaves when the principle was applied.

The problem that contractarians face is to show how such an agreement is possible. If we were to ask people, in the real world, what principles they would prefer to live under, they are likely to start from a position of quite radical disagreement, given their interests and their beliefs. Some might even be willing to endorse slavery, if they were fairly certain that they would not end up as slaves themselves, or if they were sado-masochists who viewed the humiliations inflicted on slaves in a positive light. So in order to show how agreement could be achieved, contractarians have to model the contracting parties in a particular way, either by limiting what they are allowed to know about themselves or about the future, or by attributing to them certain motivations while excluding others. Since the modelling can be done differently, we have a family of contractarian theories of justice, three of whose most important members are the theories of Gauthier, Rawls and Scanlon.

Gauthier (1986) presents the social contract as a bargain between rational individuals who can gain through co-operating with one another, but who are competing over the division of the resulting surplus. He assumes that each is interested only in trying to maximise his own welfare, and he also assumes that there is a non-co-operative baseline from which the bargaining begins – so nobody would accept a solution that left her less well off than in the baseline condition. Each person can identify the outcome under which they fare best – their maximum gain – but they have no reason to expect others to accept that. Gauthier argues that rational bargainers will converge on the principle of Minimax Relative Concession , which requires each to concede the same relative proportion of their maximum possible gain relative to the non-co-operative baseline. Thus suppose there is a feasible arrangement whereby each participant can achieve two-thirds of their maximum gain, but no arrangement under which they all do better than that, then this is the arrangement that the principle recommends. Each person has made the same concession relative to the outcome that is best for them personally – not accepting the same absolute loss of welfare, let it be noted, but the same proportionate loss.

There are some internal difficulties with Gauthier’s theory that need to be recorded briefly (for a full discussion, see Barry 1989, esp. Part III). One is whether Minimax Relative Concession is in fact the correct solution to the bargaining problem that Gauthier introduces, as opposed to the standard Nash solution which (in a simple two-person case) selects the outcome in which the product of the two parties’ utilities is maximised (for discussion of different solutions to the bargaining problem, see the entry on contemporary approaches to the social contract , § 3.2). A second is whether Gauthier is able to justify positing a ‘Lockean’ baseline, under which each is assumed to respect the natural rights of the others, as the starting point for bargaining over the surplus – as opposed to a more conflictual ‘Hobbesian’ baseline in which individuals are permitted to use their natural powers to threaten one another in the process of establishing what each could expect to get in the absence of co-operation. But the larger question is whether a contract modelled in this way is an appropriate device for delivering principles of justice. On the one hand, it captures the idea that the practice of justice should work to everyone’s advantage, while requiring all those involved to moderate the demands they make on one another. On the other hand, it prescribes a final distribution of benefit that appears morally arbitrary, in the sense that A ’s bargaining advantage over B – which stems from the fact that his maximum possible gain is greater than hers – allows him to claim a higher level of benefit as a matter of justice . This seems implausible: there may be prudential reasons to recommend a distribution that reflects the outcome that self-interested and rational bargainers would arrive at, but claims of justice need a different basis.

John Rawls’ theory of justice is the most widely-cited example of a contractarian theory, but before outlining it, two words of caution are necessary. First, the shape of the theory has evolved from its first incarnation in Rawls (1958) through his major work A Theory of Justice (Rawls 1971) and on to Rawls (1993) and Rawls (2001). Second, although Rawls has consistently claimed that the principles of justice he defends are the principles that would be selected by people in a suitably designed ‘original position’ in which they are asked to choose the social and political institutions they will live under – this is what qualifies his theory as contractarian – it is less clear how important a role the contract itself plays in his thinking. His principles, which are discussed elsewhere (see the entry on John Rawls) , can be defended on their own merits as a theory of social justice for a modern liberal society, even if their contractual grounding proves to be unsound. Rawls presents the contracting parties as seeking to advance their own interests as they decide which principles to favour, but under two informational constraints. First, they are not allowed to know their own ‘conception of the good’ – what ends they personally find it most valuable to pursue – so the principles must be couched in terms of ‘primary goods’, understood as goods that it is better to have more rather than less of whatever conception of the good you favour. Second, they are placed behind a ‘veil of ignorance’ that deprives them of any knowledge of personal characteristics, such as their gender, their place in society, or the talents and skills they possess. This means that they have no basis on which to bargain for advantage, and have to consider themselves as generic persons who might be male or female, talented or untalented, and so forth. In consequence, Rawls argues, all will choose to live under impartial principles that work to no-one’s advantage in particular.

The problem for Rawls, however, is to show that the principles that would be selected in such an original position are in fact recognizable as principles of justice . One might expect the parties to calculate how to weigh the primary goods (which Rawls catalogues as ‘rights and liberties, opportunities and powers, income and wealth’) against each other, and then to choose as their social principle ‘maximise the weighted sum of primary goods, averaged across all persons’. This, however, would bring the theory very close to utilitarianism, since the natural method of weighing primary goods is to ask how much utility having a given quantity of each is likely, on average, to bring (for the claim that utilitarianism would be chosen in a Rawlsian original position, see Harsanyi 1975). Since Rawls wishes to reject utilitarianism, he has to adjust the psychology of the parties in the original position so that they reason differently. Thus he suggests that, at least in developed societies, people have special reason to prioritise liberty over the other goods and to ensure that it is equally distributed: he argues that this is essential to safeguard their self-respect. In later writing his argument is less empirical: now the parties to the contract are endowed with ‘moral powers’ that must be exercised, and it is then fairly easy to show that this requires them to have a set of basic liberties.

When he turns to the distribution of income and wealth, Rawls has to show why his choosers would pick the difference principle, which considers only the position of the worst-off social group, over other principles such as maximising average income across the whole society. In Theory of Justice he does this by attributing special psychological features to the choosers that make it appropriate for them to follow the ‘maximin’ rule for decisions under uncertainty (choose the option whose worst possible outcome is least bad for you). For example, they are said to be much more concerned to achieve the minimum level of income that the difference principle would guarantee them than to enjoy increases above that level. In his later work, he abandons this reliance on maximin reasoning and gives greater prominence to another argument hinted at in Theory . This portrays the contracting parties as starting out from the presumption that income and wealth should be distributed equally, but then recognizing that all can benefit by permitting certain inequalities to arise. When these inequalities are governed by the difference principle, they can be justified to everyone, including the worst off, thus creating the conditions for a more stable society. But we need then to ask why equal distribution should be treated as the benchmark, departures from which require special justification. When Rawls says that it is ‘not reasonable’ for any of the parties initially to expect more than an equal share (Rawls 1971, p. 150; Rawls 1999, p. 130), is this simply a corollary of their position as rational choosers behind a veil of ignorance, or has Rawls in addition endowed them with a substantive sense of justice that includes this presumption of equality?

Although Rawls throughout presents his theory of justice as contractarian, we can now see that the terms of the contract are in part determined by prior normative principles that Rawls engineers the parties to follow. So in contrast to Gauthier, it is no longer simply a case of self-interested contractors negotiating their way to an agreement. Rawls candidly admits that the contractual situation has to be adjusted so that it yields results that match our pre-existing convictions about justice. But then we may ask how much work the contractual apparatus is really doing (see Barry 1989, ch. 9 for a critical appraisal).

Scanlon (1998) does not attempt to deliver a theory of justice in the same sense as Rawls, but his contractarian account of that part of morality that specifies ‘what we owe to each other’ covers much of the same terrain (for an explicit attempt to analyse justice in Scanlonian terms, see Barry 1995). Like Rawls, Scanlon is concerned to develop an alternative to utilitarianism, and he does so by developing a test that any candidate moral principle must pass: it must be such that no-one could reasonably reject it as the basis for informed, unforced general agreement (see the entry on contractualism ). Scanlon’s contractors are not positioned behind a veil of ignorance. They are able to see what effect adopting any proposed principle would have on them personally. If that effect is unacceptable to them, they are permitted to reject it. Each person has, so to speak, a veto on any general principle for regulating conduct. Those that survive this test are defensible as principles of justice – Scanlon concedes that there might be alternative sets of such principles appropriate to different social conditions.

It might seem, however, that giving each person a veto would lead straightforwardly to deadlock, since anyone might reject a principle under which he fared badly relative to some alternative. Here the idea of reasonable rejection becomes important. It would not, Scanlon thinks, be reasonable to reject a principle under which one does badly if the alternatives all involve someone else faring worse still. One needs to take account of other people’s reasons for rejecting these alternatives. It might then appear that Scanlon’s contractualism yields the difference principle, which requires the worst-off group in society to be as well of as they can be. But this is not the conclusion that Scanlon draws (though he acknowledges that there might be special reasons to follow Rawls in requiring basic social institutions to follow the difference principle). The claims of other groups must be considered too. If a policy greatly benefits many others, while slightly worsening the position of a few, though without leaving them very badly off, it may well not be rejectable. Scanlon’s position leaves some room for aggregation – it makes a difference how many people will be benefitted if a principle is followed – though not the simple form of aggregation that utilitarians defend.

Scanlon also says that a person can have a reason for rejecting a principle if it treats them unfairly, say by benefitting some but not others for arbitrary reasons. This presupposes a norm of fairness that the contractarian theory does not itself attempt to explain or justify. So it looks as though the purpose of the theory is to provide a distinctive account of moral reasoning (and moral motivation) but not to defend any substantive principles of distributive justice. In this respect, Scanlon’s contractualism is less ambitious than either Gauthier’s or Rawls’.

6. Egalitarianism and Justice

In the recent past, many philosophers have sought to establish a close connection between justice and equality: they ask the question ‘what kind of equality does justice require?’, and to that several competing answers have been given (see, for example Cohen 1989, Dworkin 2000, Sen 1980). But we should not be too hasty to assume that what justice demands is always equality, whether of treatment or of outcome. Perhaps it does so only in a formal sense. As we saw in sect 1.3, justice requires the impartial and consistent application of rules, from which it follows that when two people are alike in all relevant respects, they must be treated equally. But, as Aristotle among others saw, justice also involves the idea of proportional treatment, which implies recipients getting unequal amounts of whatever good is at issue (Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics , Book V, ch. 3). If A is twice as deserving or twice as needy as B , justice may require that she receives more than B does. So here formal equality of treatment – the same rule applied to both – leads to an unequal outcome. Again, when justice takes the conservative form of respect for existing entitlements or legitimate expectations (see para 2.1) there is no reason to anticipate that what is due to different people will be substantively the same.

So we need to ask about the circumstances in which justice requires a substantively equal distribution of advantages. One rather obvious case occurs when the members of the group within which the distribution is going to occur have no relevant distinguishing features, so there are no grounds on which some can claim greater shares of benefit than others. Suppose a group experiences a windfall gain for which no-one can claim any credit: a pot of gold somehow appears in their midst. Then unless any member can make a justice-related claim for a larger-than-equal share – say that she has special needs that she lacks sufficient resources to meet – an equal distribution of the gold is what justice demands, since any other distribution would be arbitrary. Equality here is the default principle that applies in the absence of any special claims that can be presented as reasons of justice.

Equality also acts as a default in circumstances where, although people may indeed have unequal claims to whatever good is being distributed, we have no reliable way of identifying and measuring those claims. By sharing the good equally, we can at least ensure that every claim has been partially satisfied. Thus suppose we have limited supplies of a drug that can treat malaria, and a number of patients displaying symptoms of the disease, but lacking specialised medical knowledge we cannot tell whether one person’s condition is more serious than another’s; then by sharing out the drug equally, we can guarantee that each person at least receives the highest fraction of what they really need. Any other distribution must leave at least one person with less (this of course assumes that there is no threshold amount of the drug beneath which it is ineffective; if that assumption is wrong, justice under the stated conditions might require a lottery in which the chosen ones receive threshold-size doses).

If justice requires equality only by default, it might seem to apply only in a narrow range of cases. How could egalitarian justice be made more robust? One approach involves declaring a wider range of factors irrelevant to just distribution. Thus one formulation of the principle holds that no-one should be worse-off than anyone else as a result of their ‘morally arbitrary’ characteristics, where a characteristic is morally arbitrary when its possessor cannot claim credit for having it. This captures a widespread intuition that people should not be advantaged or disadvantaged by virtue of their race or gender, but extends it (more controversially) to all personal features with a genetic basis, such as natural talents and inborn dispositions. In doing so, it discounts most claims of desert, since when people are said to deserve benefits of various kinds, it is usually for performing actions or displaying qualities that depend upon innate characteristics such as strength or intelligence. In the following section, we will see how egalitarian theories of justice have tried to incorporate some desert-like elements by way of response. But otherwise justice as equality and justice as desert appear to be in conflict, and the challenge is to show what can justify equal treatment in the face of inequalities of desert.

A second approach answers this challenge by explaining why it is positively valuable to afford people equal treatment even if they do display features that might appear to justify differential treatment. A prominent advocate of this approach is Dworkin, who argues that fundamental to justice is a principle of equal concern and respect for persons, and what this means in more concrete term is that equal resources should be devoted to the life of each member of society (Dworkin 2000). (The reference to membership here is not redundant, because Dworkin understands egalitarian justice as a principle that must be applied within sovereign states specifically – so in the terms of 3.2, this is a relational view of justice.) The thought is that showing persons equal respect may sometimes require us to afford them equal treatment, even in the face of relevant grounds for discrimination. Thus we insist on political equality – one person, one vote – even though we know that there are quite large differences in people’s competence to make political decisions.

As noted above, justice as simple equality of treatment seems open to the objection that it fails to acknowledge the agency of the recipients, who may have acted in ways that appear to qualify them to receive more (or less) of whatever benefit is being distributed. To answer this objection, several recent philosophers have presented alternative versions of ‘responsibility-sensitive egalitarianism’ – a family of theories of justice that treat equal distribution as a starting point but allow for departures from that baseline when these result from the responsible choices made by individuals (see Knight and Stemplowska 2011 for examples). These theories differ along several dimensions: the ‘currency of justice’ used to define the baseline of equality, the conditions that must be fulfilled for a choice to qualify as responsible, and which among the consequences that follow from a choice should count when the justice of an outcome is being assessed (it may in particular appear unjust to allow people to suffer the full consequences of bad choices that they could not reasonably have anticipated). The label that is often used to describe a sub-class of these theories is ‘luck egalitarianism’. According to luck egalitarians, justice requires that no-one should be disadvantaged relative to others on account of ‘brute’ bad luck, whereas inequalities that arise through the exercise of personal responsibility are permissible (for a full discussion of luck egalitarianism, see the entry on justice and bad luck ). ‘Brute’ luck is interpreted widely to include not only external circumstances such as one person’s initially having access to more resources than another, but also internal factors such as possessing natural abilities or disabilities, or having involuntarily acquired expensive tastes. All such inequalities are to be ironed out by redistribution or compensation, while people’s choices about how to use the assets they are granted should be respected, even if this leads to significant inequality in the long run.

Luck egalitarianism has proved surprisingly influential in recent debates on justice, despite the evident difficulties involved in, for example, quantifying ‘brute luck disadvantage’ in such a way that a compensatory scheme could be established. There are, however, a number of problems it has to face. By giving scope to personal responsibility, it seeks to capture what is perhaps the most attractive part of the conventional idea of desert – that people should be rewarded for making good choices and penalised for making bad ones – while filtering out the effects of having (undeserved) natural talents. But in reality the choices that people make are influenced by the talents and other qualities that they happen to have already. So if we allow someone to reap advantages by, for example, devoting long hours to learning to play the piano at a high level, we must recognize that this is a choice that she would almost certainly not have made unless early experiment showed that she was musically gifted. We cannot say what she would have chosen to do in a counterfactual world in which she was tone deaf. There seems then to be no coherent half-way house between accepting full-blooded desert and denying that people can justly claim relative advantage through the exercise of responsibility and choice (see further Miller 1999, ch. 7) .

A second problem is that one person’s exercise of responsibility may prove advantageous or disadvantageous to others, even though they have done nothing to bring this change about, so from their point of view it must count as ‘brute’ luck. This will be true, for example, in any case in which people are competing to excel in some field, where successful choices made by A will worsen the comparative position of B , C , and D . Or again, if A acts in a way that benefits B , but does nothing comparable to improve the position of C and D , then an inequality is created that counts as ‘brute bad luck’ from the perspective of the latter. One of the most influential exponents of luck egalitarianism seems to have recognized the problem in a late essay: ‘unlike plain egalitarianism, luck egalitarianism is paradoxical, because the use of shares by people is bound to lead to a distribution flecked by luck’ (Cohen 2011, p. 142).

We have seen that equality can sometimes be understood as required by justice; but it can also be valued independently. Indeed there can be circumstances in which the two values collide, because what justice demands is inequality of outcome. The kind of inequality that is independently valuable is social equality, best understood as a property of the relationships that prevail within a society: people regard and treat each other as social equals, and the society’s institutions are designed to foster and reflect such attitudes. A society of equals contrasts with one in which people belong to different ranks in a social hierarchy, and behave towards one another as their relative ranking prescribes. Different reasons can be given for objecting to social inequality, and conversely for valuing social equality (see Scanlon 2003).

Those who find equality valuable for reasons other than reasons of distributive justice are often described as ‘relational egalitarians’ (see Anderson 1999, Wolff 1998, Fourie, Schuppert and Wallimann-Helmer 2015). It is tempting to regard relational egalitarianism as a rival theory of justice to the luck egalitarian theory outlined in §6.2, but it may be more illuminating to see it instead as providing an alternative account of why we should care about limiting material inequality. Thus, faced with a world like the one we currently inhabit in which income differences are very large, justice theorists are likely to criticize these inequalities on grounds that they are not deserved, or arise from brute luck, etc., whereas relational egalitarians will say that they create a divided society in which people are alienated from each other, and cannot interact in a mutually respectful way. Relational equality does not address issues of distribution directly, and so cannot function as a theory of justice itself, but it can provide grounds for preferring one theory of justice to its rivals – namely that implementing that particular theory is more likely to create or sustain a society of equals.

We saw at the beginning of this article that justice can take a number of different forms, depending on the practical context in which it is being applied. Although we found common elements running through this diversity of use – most readily captured in Justinian’s ‘suum cuique ’ formula – these were formal rather than substantive. In these circumstances, it is natural to look for an overarching framework into which the various contextually specific conceptions of justice can all be fitted. Three such frameworks were examined: utilitarianism, contractarianism and egalitarianism. None, however, passed what we might call the ‘Sidgwick/Rawls test’, namely that of incorporating and explaining the majority at least of our considered convictions about justice – beliefs that we feel confident in holding about what justice requires us to do in a wide and varied range of circumstances (for Rawls’ version of the test see the entry on reflective equilibrium ). So unless we are willing to jettison many of these convictions in order to uphold one or other general framework, we will need to accept that no comprehensive theory of justice is available to us; we will have to make do with partial theories – theories about what justice requires in particular domains of human life. Rawls himself, despite the bold title of his first book ( A Theory of Justice ), came to recognize that what he had outlined was at best a theory of social justice applied to the basic institutional structure of a modern liberal state. Other forms of justice – familial, allocative, associational, international – with their associated principles would be applicable in their respective domains (for an even more explicitly pluralist account of justice, see Walzer 1983; for a fuller defence of a contextual approach to justice, see Miller 2013, esp. ch. 2).

One way to loosen up our thinking about justice is by paying greater attention to the history of the concept. We can learn a great deal by reading what Aristotle, or Aquinas, or Hume, has to say about the concept, but as we do so, we also see that elements we would expect to find are missing (there is nothing about rights in Aristotle, for example), while others that we would not anticipate are present. This may in some part be due to the idiosyncrasies of each thinker, but more importantly it reflects differences in the form of social life in which each was embedded – its economic, legal and political structure, especially. Various attempts have been made to write histories of justice that are more than just catalogues of what individual thinkers have said: they aim to trace and explain systematic shifts in the way that justice has been interpreted (for contrasting examples, see MacIntyre 1988, Fleischacker 2004, Johnston 2011). These should not be read as enlightenment stories in which our understanding of justice steadily improves as the centuries roll by. MacIntyre’s view, for example, is that modern liberal societies cannot sustain the practices within which notions of justice find their proper home. We can get a better grasp of what justice means to us by seeing the various conceptions that compete for our attention as tied to aspects of our social world that did not exist in the past, and are equally liable to disappear in the future.

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  • Justice Everywhere , a group blog about justice in public affairs

Aristotle, General Topics: ethics | consequentialism | consequentialism: rule | contractualism | feminist philosophy, topics: perspectives on reproduction and the family | justice: as a virtue | justice: distributive | justice: global | justice: intergenerational | justice: international distributive | justice: retributive | justice: transitional | luck: justice and bad luck | Rawls, John | reflective equilibrium | social contract: contemporary approaches to

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The importance of justice

The sense of justice is inherent in us. We know, sometimes vaguely and sometimes explicitly, what is right and what is wrong. Some ideas we are born with, while others are instilled in us throughout our lives. A child cries out ‘not fair’ when someone pushed him on the playground and gets the ball, and complains to an adult even when he has not been told that pushing on the playground is not right. It is the inborn sense of justice that is miffed on this occasion. It is this sense of justice that directs us through our lives, dictating our every step and shaping us into mature, well-rounded individuals. In this article, let us look at justice from a personal and a social perspective.

importance of justice

Checks crime

Justice is important because it is what keeps crime under control in a society. We are aware that there is a judicial system in place, and that we will be eventually tried for our crimes; if we are found guilty, we will suffer the punishment, which will affect not only us, but our loved ones as well. Having a criminal record affects not just our present or the duration of the time we serve; it has long reaching effects on both our professional career and our personal life. It is because we are aware that the system will mete out justice to us sooner or later that we are careful about toeing the line.

Provides motivation

The most important contribution of justice, of course, is the retribution and rewards it metes out to the deserving. If we knew that all of our actions will go unpunished and unrewarded, it would lead to anarchy. Everyone would be entitled to act the way they please without fearing any kind of justice befalling on them. When a crime has been committed against you, you seek justice from the judicial system, hoping that the perpetrator will be adequately punished for the wrong that they did to you. Similarly, when you do something good, there is the expectation that you will be duly rewarded, and that will be motivation to keep doing the good work.

Instates faith

Everyone believes in some form of justice- meted by man or the divine form. It is the ability to mete out proper justice that forms the keystone of any faith- be it faith in the divine or faith in the governing body. A government that takes a very long time to mete out justice, or is corrupt and tampers with the handing out of rewards and punishments, is duly considered an incompetent one, and sows seeds of discontent among the people. Similarly, when you have strong belief in a divine entity, you hope that it will reward you for your good work and punish those that commit crimes or unethical acts. If your expectations are not met, you start to question your faith.

Differentiates right from wrong

We know what is right and what is wrong from an inherent sense of justice. While many definitions of right and wrong keep changing from time to time and place to place, some factors remain stable. For instance, it is never right to take a life for selfish purposes. That has always been a crime, and we know that it is wrong because we are punished for such an action. When a child is punished for fighting with a friend, they are made aware that what they did was wrong, and the wrongness is impressed upon them by the act of punishment. The practical execution of justice is far more efficient in explaining the importance of justice than any amount of theory.

Dispute settlement

It is thanks to an existing and functional judicial system that we know that our disputes can be solved in a civil manner. A conflict over property need not be settled at home or in the streets in a blood and criminal manner; the matter can be taken to court and settled under the administration of those trained at law. If this system had not been there, there would be an alarming number of fratricides, patricides, and matricides in the world.

Also read: Importance of democracy

The judicial system of a nation puts every person in their own place, and fights corruption in the process. Ensuring justice is the chief goal of the judicial system, and it takes every measure necessary to ensure the same. By deciding on rights and duties of each category of person within its jurisdiction, it ensures equality of opportunities, protects the minorities and the challenged, and ensures that every person acts within their limits. For instance, attempting to force a legally adult woman to marry is a crime in the justice system, and so is selling your own daughter. The judicial system takes into account human relationships, and overrides them where necessary, in order to ensure full justice for all.

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What ‘Justice’ Really Means

The word has taken a beating in the past few weeks. But what role does it truly play in our lives?

importance of justice essay class 8

By Paul Bloomfield

Mr. Bloomfield is a professor of philosophy at the University of Connecticut.

It’s a staple of common sense that we don’t let judges try their own cases. Yet if we are to gain self-knowledge, we all must do just that: We must judge ourselves to know ourselves. While we typically think of justice as a virtue of social arrangements or political institutions, the United States has recently bore witness to this virtue in its first-person aspect — self-regarding justice — while watching the confirmation hearings of a Supreme Court Justice.

The virtue of justice requires not only that we judge others fairly, but also that we judge ourselves fairly. This is no mean feat. The trouble is that if a person is a poor judge of him or herself, it is hard to imagine that person being a good judge of others. Bias toward the self often leads to bias against others. Justice begins within ourselves.

While justice is important for each of us in our personal lives, it becomes strikingly important when we think of those in positions of power. We need leaders motivated by a love of justice and not merely self-aggrandizement. Leadership without an inner moral compass reliably pointing toward justice inevitably ends in the abuse of power.

Philosophically, all virtues are ideals that we can only approach without fully attaining them. So, we can always aspire to do better. Given this, what role does the virtue of justice play in our personal lives? What role ought it to play?

In fact there are two roles: Justice functions both in our epistemology, or how we form and justify our beliefs, as well as in practical morality, informing our private and public behavior. These ought to be entwined in our lives since we ought not only think in a fair and just manner but also act accordingly.

The apotheosis of justice is the courtroom judge, interpreting the law and ruling on evidence concerning innocence and guilt. Model judges are epistemically just: Their cognitive processes are never biased or unduly swayed, their conclusions are not prejudged, and their verdicts reliably correspond to the facts. Truth is their goal. Not only must there be no thumb on the scale, the evidence must be balanced while wearing a blindfold. The rulings of judges, however, are also undeniably moral, bearing as they do on issues of justice, restitution and the execution of punishment.

Just people are wise in the ways of fairness, equality, desert and mercy. They are normally pacific. Just people mind their own business, except when they see and call out injustice, speaking truth to power, which they’ll do even at a personal cost. Justice questions authority.

Just people also question themselves. This makes them honest and non-self-deceptive. They vigilantly maintain a clear conscience. Just people are cognizant of their own mistakes and faults, and so they are forgiving of others. They respect who they actually are and not whom they merely wish they were, and their authentic self-respect makes them respectful of others. People who are just do as they say and say as they do: their word is their bond. They are capable of great loyalty and fidelity, but not without limit.

The central epistemic principles of justice require like cases to be treated alike, as captured legally by the concepts of the rule of law and precedent . Weak and strong, rich and poor, all are equal before the law (where this must include the Supreme Court justices and presidents of the United States). While applying general principles alone is sufficient for clear, ordinary cases, a fine sensitivity, experience and reflection is necessary for reliably judging unusual or exceptional cases. Well-developed justice requires expertise in making hard “judgment calls.”

The central moral principles of justice require us to give proper respect to one another : Each of us must recognize the other as a person and not merely as an object. Each of us may testify. The least common denominator among us is that we are all human beings. In addition to that, we each have particular features making us all unique. Justice pays proper attention to what we have in common and to what sets us apart.

In discussing justice as a personal virtue, Aristotle said that being just, “ is a mean between committing injustice and suffering it, since the one is having more than one’s share, while the other is having less .” As recklessness and cowardice are opposing vices of courage, arrogance and servility are opposing vices of justice.

From sidewalk sexual harassment to the obstruction of justice, all abuses of power involve an unjust willingness to greedily arrogate more than one’s due. Typically, those who abuse their strength or cheat, and then don’t get caught or punished, self-deceptively think they’ve “beaten the system” and “won.” But fooling others into thinking you have earned a victory is not the same as genuinely being victorious. Cheaters fool themselves when they elide this difference.

The other way to fail justice is by judging ourselves to be less worthy than we truly are. This is sadly common among oppressed people, but it also arises among the affluent and powerful under the guise of the “impostor syndrome.” Humility has its place, but we shouldn’t overdo it, nor let it interfere with the intellectual courage required to call out injustice. Those who unfairly put themselves down or are servile, for whatever reason, are doing themselves an injustice by willfully accepting less than their fair share.

Given all this, the virtue of justice plays an important role in families and friendships, between neighbors and citizens, colleagues and clients, acquaintances and strangers. But it is also central to being a good person and living happily, and not merely deceiving oneself into believing that one is a good person and that one is happy.

Bringing justice fully into our lives, thinking in terms of it, will make us more circumspect. We are all too fallible. But it is often the case that we are much better at spotting the faults of others than we are at spotting faults in ourselves. Our blind spots are conveniently located to keep us from seeing our own weaknesses. What a coincidence!

Life is neither just nor fair: Good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people. This, however, only increases our obligation to be as just and fair as we can be, to be honest with ourselves as well as others, to try to correct injustice when we see it, and to do as much right in this unfair world as we can.

Paul Bloomfield is a professor of philosophy at the University of Connecticut and the author of “ The Virtues of Happiness .”

Now in print : “ Modern Ethics in 77 Arguments ,” and “ The Stone Reader: Modern Philosophy in 133 Arguments ,” with essays from the series, edited by Peter Catapano and Simon Critchley, published by Liveright Books.

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter .

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  • Law and Social Justice Class 8 Notes CBSE Political Science Chapter 10 (Free PDF Download)
  • Revision Notes


Law and Social Justice Class 8 Notes Political Science (Civics) Chapter 10 - PDF Download

As per the law on minimum wages, a worker must be paid at least the minimum wage by the employer. Various other laws protect the interests of producers and consumers in the market. The law ensures that the relations between the three parties - the worker, consumer and producer are governed in a way that is not exploitative. By creating, enforcing, and upholding laws, the government can control the activities of individual or private companies to ensure social justice.

Download CBSE Class 8 Political Science Revision Notes 2023-24 PDF

Also, check CBSE Class 8 Political Science revision notes for All chapters:

Access Class 8 Political Science Civics Chapter 10 – Law and Social Justice

In order to protect against exploitation in any form, the government makes laws that would control the unfair deeds. In this chapter, the enforcement and implementation of laws are explained through 2 case studies. Case study 1 explains the problems in a market situation and the need for law. Some basic laws of the country are explained. Case study 2 explains problems faced in the implementation of laws. The compromises made by government officials in both enforcement and implementation are discussed.

Case Study: 

Imagine a market situation. A major issue is the issue of workers' wages.

Private companies, contractors, and businesspersons to achieve profit might deny workers their rights and they might not pay them wages which is illegal according to the law.

Furthermore, to guarantee that those workers are not underpaid, there is a law on minimum wages to protect them. 

Just like the law on minimum wages protects workers, some laws protect producers’ and consumers' interests in the market. 

There are laws to protect workers, consumers, and producers.

Step 1: Forming Laws 

Minimum wages act: Wages should not be below the specified minimum wage, which gets revised every year by the government. This law is meant to protect workers of all sorts. 

The law specifies that there should be adequate safety measures in workplaces. Like the alarm system, emergency exits, properly - functioning machinery, etc. 

The law requires that the quality of goods should meet certain standards. Like the electrical appliance should meet safety standards. Poor quality of products may cause damage to consumers. 

The law requires that the prices of essential goods are not too high. To make sure that the poor will be able to afford these goods. 

The law requires that factories do not pollute air or water. 

Laws against child labor in workplaces. No kid below the age of 14 should be employed to work in factories, mines, or other hazardous employment. 

Laws to form workers’ unions or associations. Unions or associations help the workers to form a group and thus the power to demand better wages and working conditions.

Step 2: Implementing Laws 

The government has to periodically examine worksites and take necessary action when laws are violated. 

On a large scale, controlling the malpractices may reassure social justice.

Case Study:

Bhopal gas tragedy.

On 2 December night 1984, an American company, Union Carbide (UC) had a factory in the city in which it produced pesticides whose methyl- isocyanate (MIC) - a highly poisonous gas - started leaking. In a matter of three days, more than 8,000 people were dead, and many were affected by the gas. Those who survived developed critical respiratory disorders, eye problems, and other health disorders. Even Children developed strange abnormalities. 

What is a Worker's Worth? 

Why did union carbide establish its plant in india.

To cut down costs. Less cost, more profit. 

Cheap labor - As compared to other developed countries, developing countries like India have cheaper labor. 

Companies can extract longer hours of work for lower pay. 

Supplementary expenses such as the money spent on housing facilities of workers also reduce. 

Cutting costs can also be done by lowering the quality of working conditions which includes lower safety measures. 

Between the years 1980-1984, the number of workers in the MIC plant was halved, risking people's safety. The workers were given safety training for only 15 days, in the place of 6 months. These risked the safety of the workers.

Comparison of Safety Protocols in Virginia, USA and of Bhopal, India:

In Virginia, USA:

Computerized warning and monitoring systems were present to ensure safety in the plant and monitor accidents like gas leaks. 

Emergency evacuation plans were well organized. 

Proper treatment of polluted resources was mandatory. 

In Bhopal, India:

No automated monitoring systems were present. It was utterly reliable on manual gauges and the human senses to detect gas leaks or any accident. 

No pre-planned emergency evacuation systems. 

The environmental pollution caused due to the production was not an issue of the UC plant. 

Why is There a Difference in These Safety Standards?

Reduced safety standards means less investment money. In developed countries like the USA, no labor would be available if the safety standards are compromised. In a developing country like India, where the unemployment rate is high, people compromise safety over employment. There was not even proper compensation for the victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy. The employers misuse the need for income of the people.

Enforcement of Safety Laws 

What was the government doing when there have been such blatant violations of safety standards within the UC plant?

The safety laws in the Indian constitution are not very strong or legit. 

Even those weak laws are not implemented properly. 

In the Case of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy:

Problem: The hazardous nature of the UC plant was ignored by the officials. 

Reason: Despite many municipal officials' objections against the UC plant pointing out the unsafe working environment; it was ignored by higher officials as the UC plant was a very large investment that could give more employment opportunities. 

Problem: The government officials continued approval of the plant, though repeated gas leaks were evidently dangerous. 

Reason: It was illogical for the officials to ask the UC plant to switch to a safer working environment. Here both government and private companies ignored the interest of the citizens.

New Laws To Protect the Environment:

In the case study of the Bhopal gas tragedy, many localities with the workers were affected. The gas leak caused death and health hazards to everyone who inhaled it, that is everyone who lived in that area. 

Other than just protecting the workers, the law has to be enforced to also protect the environment for which no proceedings are taken by the government. 

Up until the 1980s Environment was a free entitlement to be used by anyone without thinking about the consequences in India. 

Environmental activists emphasized the points and demanded the government to take immediate action. 

Laws were enforced by the government, to not exploit the environment for mere industrial usages. The polluter is held accountable for any such pollution caused by his/her industry.

The right to a healthy environment was brought under the laws of the Right to Life. 

The Supreme Court held that the Right to Life is a Fundamental Right under Article 21 of the Constitution and it includes the right to the enjoyment of pollution-free water and air for full enjoyment of life. 

The government is accountable for checking pollution levels, maintaining clean rivers, and introducing heavy fines for those who pollute.

Important Questions and Answers:

1. What laws were in practice by the US government on industries to ensure safety? 

Ans:   To ensure safety in the plant there were systems to monitor accidents like gas leaks. Emergency evacuation plans were well organized. Proper treatment of polluted resources was mandatory. 

2. Who are a consumer and producer?

Ans: Consumer is an individual who buys a product for their personal use and does not resell it. A producer is a person or organization that produces goods for sale in the market. Sometimes the producer may reserve the product for his own use. For example, a farmer would reserve a part of his agri-produce for his usage. 

3. Why do we need a law on minimum wages? Why do you think enforcement of safety laws is significant in any factory?

Ans: We need a law on minimum wages to protect the interest of the workers. The employer may fail to provide workers with enough wages for the work extracted. To stop this from happening, the law on Minimum wages is established where the government decides the minimum wage every year. Enforcement of safety laws is significant in any factory to protect the workers and the environment. The essential needs of the workers and their safety should be satisfied and monitored. The environmental pollution by industries has to be controlled. 

4. A 'clean environment is a public facility.' Can you explain this statement? 

Ans: For the well-being of the citizens, a clean environment is vital. A public facility is one that is essential for survival and peaceful living. The unclean or polluted environment may mean increased levels of disease and health issues. It also causes the degradation of the environment and primary resources. These resources, like water and soil, are biologically important. Thus, it needs to be preserved.

5. What are the advantages and disadvantages of foreign companies setting up production in India? 

Ans: The advantages and disadvantages of foreign companies setting up production in India are listed below.

Advantages: Better employment opportunities for all classes of people. Country’s economic development.

Disadvantages: The companies take advantage of the workers. The government officials don't question the industry in case of poor safety measures. This results in drastic accidents. The environment’s well-being is compromised by the officials. 

6. What is a worker's union? 

Ans: An association of workers. Workers' unions are common in factories and offices but might be a part of other kinds of workers, say domestic workers' unions. All these leaders of the union bargain and negotiate with the employer in support of its members. The problems include wages, work rules, rules governing hiring, firing, and promotion of workers, benefits, and workplace safety.

Law and Social Justice Revision Notes

How is government ensuring law and social justice for society.

Below are some insights on how the government is ensuring proper rights, laws and social justice for the society.

What is a Worker’s Worth?

In India, due to large scale unemployment, any worker can be easily replaced by another. Many workers are ready to work in perilous conditions just for the sake of a wage. Hence, even several years post the Bhopal gas tragedy, there are regular reports of accidents in construction sites, mines, or factories due to the callous attitude of the employers.

A worker’s worth is the value he/she has in the eyes of an industry he/she is employed in.

Enforcement of Safety Laws

The government has to make sure that safety laws are executed. The government must see to it that the Right to Life secured under Article 21 of the Constitution is not breached.

As we can infer from the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, the oversight of the government is the reason for such a hazardous disaster.

Government officials denied identifying the plant as hazardous and allowed it to be built in a populated locality.

The government did not ask the Union Carbide to shift to cleaner technology or safer procedures.

Government inspectors continued to approve the processes in the plant, even when repeated incidents of leaks from the plant made it evident to everybody that things were severely wrong.

Safety was being neglected both by the government and private companies in this instance.

New Laws to Protect the Environment

The environment was considered as a ‘free’ entity, and any sector could pollute the air and water without any limitations. The Bhopal disaster brought the problem of the environment to light. In response to this, the Indian government started new laws on the environment.

The Right to Life, a Fundamental Right under Article 21 of the Constitution, includes the right to the enjoyment of pollution-free air and water. The courts gave numerous judgments upholding the right to a healthy environment as a Fundamental Right to Life. The government sets up the laws and procedures to check air pollution, water pollution to ensure clean rivers and simultaneously introduce heavy fines on the violation.

The government controls the activities of private enterprises by formulating, enforcing and upholding laws to prevent all unfair practices and to ensure social justice. Laws that are weak & poorly enforced can cause serious harm, just like the Bhopal gas tragedy showed. Citizens must also exert pressure so that both the government and private companies act simultaneously in the interests of society.

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FAQs on Law and Social Justice Class 8 Notes CBSE Political Science Chapter 10 (Free PDF Download)

Q1. What are the Benefits to Foreign Companies in Setting up Production Units in India?

Ans. Following are the advantages which the foreign companies earn by setting up production houses in India.

Cheap labour availability.

Longer work hours at low wages.

Least overheads like housing facilities for employees/workers.

Heavy Cost-cutting with lower working conditions and lower safety measures.

Thus, setting up the production of foreign companies in India can save costs and give higher profits in India.

Q2. Discuss if You Think the Victims of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy got Justice?

Ans. The sufferers of the Bhopal gas tragedy never got complete justice. The Bhopal tragedy was caused due to neglecting safety measures by the factory management. The Indian government represented the people to legally claim compensation for the affected people and demanded 3 billion dollars as compensation. But the company paid 470 million dollars. Today also, after 36 years, people are still seeking justice. Though the financial compensation for the families was adequate, many of them are still struggling for safe-drinking water, jobs and healthcare facilities.

Q3. What is Law Enforcement? Who is Responsible for Law Enforcement? Why is Law Enforcement Important?

Ans. Law enforcement refers to the implementation of the law. Government passes the laws and have to be enforced so that the citizens can avail benefit from these laws.

The government enforces the laws, and this enforcement is vital to safeguard the rights of the citizens. This enforcement protects the weak from the strong section of society. It also controls the activities of individuals or private companies to ensure a safe working environment and complete social justice.

Q4. How can Laws Ensure Fair Working in Markets? Explain with Two Examples.

Ans. With proper Laws, fair working in markets can be ensured. Here are two examples:

Right Against Exploitation: It states that no one can be forced to work at low wages or beneath any bond.

Child Labour Prevention Act: According to this law, no child below 14 years can be employed for any employment like domestic help, etc.

The laws passed by the government to ensure that there is no exploitation and overworking by the companies. It also monitors market prices of essential products such as kerosene, sugar, food grain, etc.

5. How do the Class 8 CBSE Political Science Chapter 10 - Law and Social Justice notes benefit students?

The notes, available for free PDF download, offer a comprehensive understanding of the chapter, simplifying complex concepts related to Law and Social Justice. They aid in effective exam preparation, ensuring students grasp the nuances of this crucial topic.


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Class Notes

Free Class Notes & Study Material

Civics Chapter 5 Judiciary – Notes & Study Material

Last Updated on July 3, 2023 By Mrs Shilpi Nagpal

  • 1 New Terms
  • 2.1 Judiciary
  • 2.2 Functions of Judiciary
  • 2.3 The functions of Indian judicial system are :
  • 2.4 Structure of Courts in India 
  • 2.5 Supreme Court
  • 2.6 Functions of High Court
  • 2.7 The functions of District Court are :
  • 2.10 Integrated judicial System 
  • 2.11 Judicial Review
  • 2.12 Judiciary is important for the functioning of the democracy in India 
  • 2.13 Independence of Judiciary
  • 2.14 Implications of Judicial Activism and PIL

Acquit: This refers to the court declaring that an individual is not guilty for the crime which he was tried for by the court.

Eviction: In context of this chapter, it refers to the removal of individuals from homes/land which they are currently living in.

Judicial system: This is the mechanism of courts which a citizen may approach when a law is violated.

Judicial review: The judiciary has the power to modify or cancel such laws passed by the Parliament, which do not adhere to the Constitution. This is called Judicial Review.

Judiciary : Judiciary is an organ of government which settles disputes through interpretation of law.

Separation of power : It refers to division of powers between the central and state governments.

To appeal : In context of this chapter, it refers to a petition filed before a higher court to hear a case which has already been decided by a lower court.

Violation: This refers to breaking a law or encroachment of an individual’s Fundamental Rights.

Important Notes

Judiciary is important as it settles disputes and performs several other interpretative functions. Independence of judiciary is necessary to protect the liberty of individuals. It is the foundation stone of democracy.

Functions of Judiciary

(i) Dispute Resolution: The judicial system provides a mechanism for resolving disputes between citizens, between citizens and the government, between two state governments and between the Centre and State government.

(ii) Judicial Review: As the final interpreter of the Constitution, the judiciary also has the power to strike down particular laws passed by the parliament if it believes that these are a violation of the basic structure of the Constitution. This is called judicial review.

(iii) Upholding the Law and Enforcing Fundamental rights: Every citizen of India can approach the Supreme Court or the High Court if they believe that their Fundamental Rights have been violated.

The functions of Indian judicial system are :

The Supreme Court is the Indian judicial system. The Supreme Court has an extensive jurisdiction, i.e., original, appellate and advisory.

(i) Original Jurisdiction : It extends to those cases which Supreme Court has authority to hear and decide in the first instance like

(a) Dispute between the Government of India and one or more States.

(b) Dispute between two or more States.

(c) Dispute between the Union and any State on the one side and other States on the other.

(ii) Appellate Jurisdiction: A person can appeal to the Supreme Court against the decision of High Court. However, High Court must certify that the case is fit for appeal, which means the case involves a serious question of interpretation of law or Constitution. In criminal cases, if the lower court has sentenced a person to death, then an appeal can be made to the High court or Supreme Court. Supreme Court holds the power to decide whether to admit appeals even when appeal is not allowed by High Court. Appellate jurisdiction means, Supreme Court will reconsider the case and legal issue involved in it.

(iii) Advisory Jurisdiction: The President may obtain the opinion of the Supreme Court on a question of law or fact, which in his opinion is of public importance. The advisory opinion of the Supreme Court is not binding on the President.

Structure of Courts in India 

There are three different levels of courts in our country:

(i) There are several courts at the lower level, while there is only one at the apex level. The courts that most people interact with are called Subordinate or District Courts.  These are usually at the district or tehsil level or in towns and they hear many kinds of cases. Each state is divided into districts that are presided over by a District Judge.

(ii)  Each state has a High Court which is the highest court of that state.

(iii) At the top is the Supreme Court that is located in New Delhi and is presided over by the Chief Justice of India. The decisions made by the Supreme Court are binding on all other courts in India.

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of India is called the Guardian of the Constitution because, it has the power to declare a law passed by the Parliament void or illegal if it is against the provisions of the Constitution.

Qualifications and tenure of the judge of the Supreme Court of India

A person is qualified for appointment as a judge only if he/she is a citizen of India and if he/she fulfils one of the following conditions:

(i) Has been a Judge of High Court for at least five years.

(ii) Has been an advocate of a High Court for at least ten years.

(iii) In the opinion of the President, is a distinguished jurist.

The Chief Justice of India and other judges of the Supreme Court hold office till they attain the age of 65 years. A judge may voluntarily resign before expiry of his term. In exceptional cases, a Supreme Court judge may be removed before the age of retirement, through impeachment.

Functions of High Court

(i) Original Jurisdiction: The original jurisdiction of the High Court extends to all civil cases which are in respect of actions of higher value.

(ii) Appellate Jurisdiction: The appellate jurisdiction of the High Court extends to both civil and criminal cases. It comes as first or second appeal in civil cases. Appeals arise from decisions by district judges and subordinate judges in higher value cases to the High Court. The criminal appellate jurisdiction of the High Court extends to appeal from the decision of a session judge when the sentence of imprisonment exceeds 7 years.

(iii) Power of Superintendence: According to Article 277, every High Court extends the power of superintendence over all courts and tribunals, except those dealing with armed forces operating within its territorial jurisdiction.

(iv) Control over Subordinate Courts : The High Court is the head of judiciary in a state and a state is empowered to transfer constitutional cases from lower courts. If High Court is satisfied that a matter involves a question of law and is beyond the jurisdiction of Subordinate Court, it can withdraw the case and dispose it off itself.

(v) Guardian of Fundamental Rights : According to the Act, 226, the High Court is empowered to issue writs to any person or authority, including the government, if it feels that the Fundamental Rights of any individual are being infringed upon within its jurisdiction.

(vi) Court of Record: The High Court keeps a record of its own cases which act as a precedent in future cases.

The functions of District Court are :

Any public-spirited individual can file a Public Interest Litigation case (PIL) on behalf of a group of persons, whose rights are affected. It is not necessary, that person filing a case should have a direct interest in this Public Interest Litigation. For example:  A person in Mumbai can file a Public Interest Litigation for deaths due to malnutrition in Odisha.

FIR is a written document prepared by the police when it receives information about the occurrence of a cognizable offence. Serious crimes like theft, murder, rape, are cognizable offences, in which a police can arrest a person without warrant. Anyone can report the concerned authority (police) about such an offence either orally or in writing to the police. Even a telephonic message can be treated as FIR.

Integrated judicial System 

Judicial review.

The Courts derives this power from the provisions of Article 13. The Constitution of India empowers the Supreme Court to invalidate those laws and executive orders which infringe Fundamental Rights.

Importance of Judicial Review

(i) Since review power means that judiciary can interpret the Constitution and law passed by the legislature, it enables the judiciary to protect the Constitution effectively.

(ii) It safeguards the freedom of the citizens by protecting their Fundamental Rights against the undue interference by the legislature and executive.

(iii) It plays an important role in keeping the Union and State governments within their respective jurisdictional spheres.

Judiciary is important for the functioning of the democracy in India 

Independence of judiciary.

Free and secure working environment can allow judges to provide justice in an unbiased way. The judiciary of India is answerable to the Constitution of India. The Constitution has such provisions that ensure independent judiciary, such as in matters of appointment, tenure, pay, etc.

Implications of Judicial Activism and PIL

First, these have overburdened the courts. Secondly, Judicial activism has blurred the line of distinction between the executive and legislature. The court has been involved in solving the questions which belong to executive.

For example: air pollution, investigation of corruption cases etc. are the matters to be handled by administration under the Supervision of legislature. These are not the duties of judiciary. Therefore, some feel that judicial activism has made the balance among the three organs or government very delicate. In a democratic country like India, each organ of government has its own power and jurisdiction. They cannot encroach upon others jurisdiction but judicial activism ma be creating strain on this democratic principle.

Honourable judiciary is respected by all Indian citizens and everybody has faith in it. But, it is also a hard fact which had been accepted by the Chief Justice of India that lengthy time consuming act of courts and judges of providing justice also affect the common person’s access to justice. It is hard to accept that certain cases had been decided in a very lengthy time period. Courts take very long time to finally decide a case. The phrase ‘Justice delayed is justice denied’ is often used to characterise this extended time period that courts take.

Judicial activism has influenced our political system in many ways:

(a) It has democratised the judicial system by giving not just individuals, but also groups access to the courts.

(b) Secondly, it has forced executive accountability.

(c) Thirdly, it has also made an attempt to make the electoral system much more free and fair.

The Court asked candidates contesting elections to file affidavits indicating their assets and income along with educational qualifications, so that people could elect their representatives based on accurate knowledge.

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  • CBSE Notes For Class 8
  • Class 8 Social Science Notes
  • Class 8 Civics Notes
  • Chapter 8 Confronting Marginalisation

CBSE Notes Class 8 Social Science Civics Chapter 8-Confronting Marginalisation

According to the CBSE Syllabus 2023-24, this chapter has been renumbered as Chapter 6.

Read about two different groups and their experiences of inequality and discrimination. Though powerless, such groups have fought, protested and struggled against being excluded or dominated by others. They have attempted to overcome their situation by adopting a range of strategies over their long history. Religious solace, armed struggle, self-improvement and education, economic upliftment – there appears to be no one way of doing things. In all cases, the choice of struggle has depended on the circumstances that the marginalised find themselves in. In Chapter 8 of CBSE Class 8 Civics, students can learn about some of the ways in which groups and individuals challenge existing inequalities. One best way to revise the entire Chapter for the exam is to browse through CBSE Notes Class 8 Civics Chapter 8-Confronting Marginalisation.

  • Chapter 1 The Indian Constitution
  • Chapter 2 Understanding Secularism
  • Chapter 3 Why Do We Need A Parliament
  • Chapter 4 Understanding Laws
  • Chapter 5 Judiciary
  • Chapter 6 Understanding Our Criminal Justice System
  • Chapter 7 Understanding Marginalisation
  • Chapter 9 Public Facilities
  • Chapter 10 Law And Social Justice

Find the PDF link given below in this article to access the CBSE Class 8 Civics Notes from Chapter 8 and prepare most competently for the exam.

CBSE Notes Class 8 Civics Chapter 8-Confronting Marginalisation

Confronting marginalisation.

See why marginalised groups invoke the Constitution of India in the course of their struggles. Here, let us find out how rights are translated into laws to protect groups from continued exploitation and also look at the government’s efforts to formulate policies that promote the access of these groups to development.

Invoking Fundamental Rights

The Constitution lays down the principles that make our society and polity democratic, defined in and through the list of Fundamental Rights that are an important part of the Constitution. These rights are available to all Indians equally. Marginalised have drawn on these rights in two ways: 1) Insisting on their Fundamental Rights, they have forced the government to recognise the injustice done to them. 2) They have insisted that the government enforce these laws. The struggles of the marginalised influenced the government to frame new laws in keeping with the spirit of Fundamental Rights.

Article 17 of the Constitution – which abolishes untouchability – means that no one can prevent Dalits from educating themselves, entering temples, using public facilities and so on. It is wrong to practise untouchability, and it is a punishable crime now. There are other sections in the Constitution that abolish the practice. For example, Article 15 of the Constitution states that no citizen of India shall be discriminated against on the basis of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.

  • Dalits can ‘invoke’ or ‘draw on’ a Fundamental Right (or Rights) in situations where they feel that they have been treated badly by some individual or community or even by the government.
  • Draw the attention of the state to the Constitution to ensure justice for them.
  • Other minority groups have drawn on the Fundamental Rights section of our Constitution to invoke the right to freedom of religion and cultural and educational rights.
  • In the case of cultural and educational rights, distinct cultural and religious groups have the right to be the guardians of the content of their culture, as well as the right to make decisions on how best this content is to be preserved.
  • Thus, by granting different forms of cultural rights, the Constitution tries to ensure cultural justice. The Constitution does this so that the culture of all groups is protected and preserved, and given equal importance.

Laws for the Marginalised

There are specific laws and policies for the marginalised in our country.

Promoting Social Justice

Attempting to implement the provisions of the Constitution, State and Central Governments provide free or subsidised hostels for students of Dalit and Adivasi communities so that they can avail of education facilities that may not be available in their localities. The government also operates through laws to ensure to take concrete steps to end inequity in the system.

One such law/policy is the reservation policy, which is significant and highly contentious. The laws that reserve seats in education and government employment for Dalits and Adivasis are based on an important argument: in a society like ours, where for centuries, sections of the population have been denied opportunities to learn and to work in order to develop new skills or vocations. To ensure equality, a democratic government needs to step in and assist these sections.

How does the reservation policy work? Governments of Indian states have their own list of Scheduled Castes (or Dalits), Scheduled Tribes and backward and most backward castes. Students applying to educational institutions and those applying for posts in government are expected to provide proof in the form of caste and tribe certificates. If a particular Dalit caste or a certain tribe is on the government list, then a candidate can avail of the benefit of reservation. For admission to colleges, especially to institutes of professional education, governments define a set of ‘cut-off’ marks. Only the Dalit and tribal candidates who secured marks above the cut-off point can qualify for admission. These students also get special scholarships from the government.

Protecting the Rights of Dalits and Adivasis

In addition to policies, our country also has specific laws that guard against the discrimination and exploitation of marginalised communities. The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, was passed in response to demands made by Dalits and other tribal groups regarding the ill-treatment and humiliation that they face. The treatment acquired a violent character in the late 1970s and 1980s. During this period, in parts of southern India, a number of Dalit groups came forward, and they refused to perform their so-called caste duties and insisted and demanded equal treatment. This resulted in the more powerful castes unleashing violence against them. Dalit groups demanded new laws that would list the various sorts of violence against Dalits and prescribe stringent punishment for those who indulge in them.

Meanwhile, the ACT distinguishes several levels of crimes. 1) Modes of humiliation: both physically horrific and morally reprehensible and seeks to punish those who (i) force a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Tribe to drink or eat any inedible or obnoxious substance; (ii) forcibly remove clothes from the person of a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe or parades them naked or with painted face or body or commits any similar act that is derogatory to human dignity.

2) Actions that dispossess Dalits and Adivasis of their meagre resources or which force them into performing slave labour. Thus, the Act sets out to punish anyone who (iii) wrongfully occupies or cultivates any land owned by, or allotted to, … a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe or gets the land allotted to him transferred. At another level, the Act recognises that crimes against Dalit and tribal women are of a specific kind and, therefore, seeks to penalise anyone who (iv) assaults or uses force on any woman belonging to a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe with intent to dishonour her.

Adivasi Demands and the 1989 Act

The 1989 Act is important for another reason – it helped Adivasis to defend their right to occupy land that was traditionally theirs. Adivasis were often unwilling to move and were forcibly displaced from their land. Those who have forcibly encroached upon tribal lands should be punished under this law, as proposed by Activists. They have also pointed to the fact that this Act merely confirms what has already been promised to tribal people in the Constitution: that land belonging to tribal people cannot be sold to or bought by non-tribal people.

In cases where this has happened, the Constitution guarantees the right of tribal people to re-possess their land. Meanwhile, in cases where tribals have already been evicted and cannot go back to their lands, they must be compensated. That is, the government must draw up plans and policies for them to live and work elsewhere.

Frequently Asked Questions on CBSE Class 8 Civics Notes Chapter 8 Confronting Marginalisation

What are some of examples of marginalisation.

Marginalisation is denying professional opportunities because of aspects of someone’s identity (racism, sexism, and ableism). It is also not providing equal access to resources because of someone’s identity.

Who are Adivasis?

Adivasi is the collective term for the Tribes of the Indian subcontinent, who are considered to be the indigenous people of India.

Who are Dalits?

Dalit, in traditional Indian society, is the former name for any member of a wide range of low-caste Hindu groups and any person outside the caste system.

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Human Rights Careers

8 Tips For Writing A Social Justice Essay

Social justice covers a variety of issues involving race, gender, age, sexual orientation, income equality and much more. How do you write an essay on a social justice issue that’s engaging, informative and memorable? Here are eight tips you should take to heart when writing:

When writing a social justice essay, you should brainstorm for ideas, sharpen your focus, identify your purpose, find a story, use a variety of sources, define your terms, provide specific evidence and acknowledge opposing views.

#1. Brainstorm creatively

Before you start writing your social justice essay, you need a topic. Don’t hesitate to look far and wide for inspiration. Read other social justice essays, look at recent news stories, watch movies and talk to people who are also interested in social justice. At this stage, don’t worry about the “trendiness” of your idea or whether a lot of people are already writing about it. Your topic will evolve in response to your research and the arguments you develop. At the brainstorming stage, you’re focused on generating as many ideas as possible, thinking outside the box and identifying what interests you the most. Take a free online course to get a better understanding of social justice.

You can take a creative brainstorming approach! A blog on Hubspot offers 15 creative ideas such as storyboarding, which involves laying out ideas in a narrative form with terms, images and other elements. You can also try freewriting, which is when you choose something you’re interested in. Next, write down everything you already know, what you need to know but don’t already, why the topic matters and anything else that comes to mind. Freewriting is a good exercise because it helps you decide if there’s any substance to a topic or if it’s clear there’s not enough material for a full essay.

#2. Sharpen your topic’s focus

The best essays narrow on a specific social justice topic and sharpen its focus, so it says something meaningful and interesting. This is often challenging, but wrestling with what exactly you want your essay to say is worth the effort. Why? An essay with a narrow, sharp focus has a clearer message. You’re also able to dig deeper into your topic and provide better analysis. If your topic is too broad, you’re forced to skim the surface, which produces a less interesting essay.

How do you sharpen your essay’s focus? Grace Fleming provides several tips on ThoughtCatalog . First, you can tell your topic is too broad if it can be summarized in just 1-2 words. As an example, “health inequity” is way too broad. Fleming suggests applying the questions, “Who, what, where, when, why and how,” to your topic to narrow it down. So, instead of just “health inequity,” you might end up with something like “The impact of health inequity in maternal healthcare systems on Indigenous women.” Your topic’s focus may shift or narrow even further depending on the research you find.

Writing a human rights topic research paper? Here are five of the most useful tips .

#3. Identify your purpose

As you unearth your topic and narrow its focus, it’s important to think about what you want your essay to accomplish. If you’re only thinking about your essay as an assignment, you’ll most likely end up with a product that’s unfocused or unclear. Vague sentiments like “Everyone is writing about social justice” and “Social justice is important” are also not going to produce an essay with a clear purpose. Why are you writing this essay? Are you wanting to raise awareness of a topic that’s been historically ignored? Or do you want to inspire people to take action and change something by giving them concrete how-to strategies? Identifying your purpose as soon as possible directs your research, your essay structure and how you style your writing.

If you’re not sure how to find your purpose, think about who you’re writing for. An essay written for a university class has a different audience than an essay written for a social justice organization’s social media page. If there are specific instructions for your essay (professors often have requirements they’re looking for), always follow them closely. Once you’ve identified your purpose, keep it at the front of your mind. You’ll produce an essay that’s clear, focused and effective.

#4. Find a human story

The best social justice essays don’t only provide compelling arguments and accurate statistics; they show your topic’s real-world impact. Harvard’s Kennedy School’s communications program describes this process as “finding a character.” It’s especially useful when you’re writing something persuasive. Whatever your topic, try to find the human stories behind the ideas and the data. How you do that depends on the nature of your essay. As an example, if you’re writing something more academic, focusing too much on the emotional side of a story may not be appropriate. However, if you’re writing an essay for an NGO’s fundraising campaign, focusing on a few people’s stories helps your reader connect to the topic more deeply.

How do you choose what stories to feature? Harvard suggests choosing someone you have access to either through your research or as an interview subject. If you get the opportunity to interview people, make sure you ask interesting questions that dig beneath the surface. Your subject has a unique perspective; you want to find the information and stories only they can provide.

#5. Rely on a variety of sources

Depending on your essay’s purpose and audience, there might be certain sources you’re required to use. In a piece for Inside Higher Ed, Stephanie Y. Evans describes how her students must use at least 10 source types in their final paper assignment. Most of the time, you’ll have a lot of freedom when it comes to research and choosing your sources. For best results, you want to use a wide variety. There are a few reasons why. The first is that a variety of sources gives you more material for your essay. You’ll access different perspectives you wouldn’t have found if you stuck to just a few books or papers. Reading more sources also helps you ensure your information is accurate; you’re fact-checking sources against one another. Expanding your research helps you address bias, as well. If you rely only on sources that reflect your existing views, your essay will be much less interesting.

While we’re talking about sources, let’s touch on citations. If you’re writing an essay for school, your teacher will most likely tell you what citation method they want you to use. There are several depending on the discipline. As an example, in the United States, social science disciplines like sociology and education tend to use the American Psychological Association (APA) style. Some places are very rigid about citation styles, while others are more relaxed. If you’re writing an essay where your citation won’t be checked, you still need to give credit to any ideas, thoughts, or research that’s not yours. Proper citation builds trust with your reader and boosts your credibility.

Here are more tips on writing a human rights essay!

#6. Define your key terms

To make your essay as clear and effective as possible, you want every reader on the same page right at the beginning. Defining your key terms is an important step. As Ian Johnston writes, creating an effective argument requires “the establishment of clear, precise, and effective definitions for key terms in the arguments.” You may have to adapt an existing definition or write your own. Johnston offers principles such as adjusting a definition based on the knowledge of who you’re writing for, focusing on what a term is and not just on its effects, and expanding a definition so it covers everything a reader needs to know.

How do you decide which terms are important in your essay? First, never assume a reader understands a term because it’s “obvious.” The most obvious terms are often the ones that need the clearest definitions. If your reader doesn’t know exactly what you’re talking about when you use a term like “health equity,” your essay won’t be as effective. In general, you want to define any terms relevant to your topic, terms that are used frequently and terms with distinct meanings in the context of your essay.

#7. Provide specific evidence and examples

Social justice issues are grounded in reality, so an essay should reflect that. Don’t spend your whole paper being philosophical or hypothetical. As an example, let’s say you’re writing an essay about desertification in Mali. Don’t discuss desertification as an abstract concept. Include real statistics and case studies on desertification in Mali, who it’s affecting the most and what is being done about it. For every argument you make, present supporting evidence and examples.

The strength of your evidence determines the strength of your arguments. How do you find strong evidence? Cite This For Me lists a handful of examples , such as studies, statistics, quotes from subject matter experts and/or reports, and case studies. Good evidence also needs to be accurate and in support of your argument. Depending on your essay topic, how current a piece of evidence is also matters. If you’re not relying on the most current evidence available, it can weaken your overall argument. Evidence should also be as specific as possible to your topic. Referring back to our desertification in Mali essay, that means locating examples of how desertification affects people in Mali , not in Chad or Russia.

Academic essay writing requires specific skills. Here’s an online introductory course on academic writing .

#8. Acknowledge your critics

Not every social justice essay requires an acknowledgment of opposing viewpoints, but addressing critics can strengthen your essay. How? It lets you confront your critics head-on and refute their arguments. It also shows you’ve researched your topic from every angle and you’re willing to be open-minded. Some people worry that introducing counterarguments will weaken the essay, but when you do the work to truly dissect your critic’s views and reaffirm your own, it makes your essay stronger.

The University of Pittsburgh offers a four-step strategy for refuting an argument. First, you need to identify the claim you’re responding to. This is often the trickiest part. Some writers misrepresent the claims of their critics to make them easier to refute, but that’s an intellectually dishonest method. Do your best to understand what exactly the opposing argument is claiming. Next, make your claim. You might need to provide specific evidence, which you may or may not have already included in your essay. Depending on the claim, your own thoughts may be a strong enough argument. Lastly, summarize what your claim implies about your critics, so your reader is left with a clear understanding of why your argument is the stronger one.

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Apply now: essex human rights summer school (fully online), 17 international organizations offering early-career opportunities, gender rights jobs: our short guide, free mooc on children’s right to education in armed conflict, 9 online courses on leading diverse teams, 40 top-rated social issues courses to study in 2024, 10 courses to prepare for your human rights job, register now: global institute of human rights certificate program, the un immersion programme is open for applications, the un young leaders online training programme is open for applications, ngo jobs: our short guide, apply now: un post graduate diploma in global health procurement and supply chain management, about the author, emmaline soken-huberty.

Emmaline Soken-Huberty is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon. She started to become interested in human rights while attending college, eventually getting a concentration in human rights and humanitarianism. LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights, and climate change are of special concern to her. In her spare time, she can be found reading or enjoying Oregon’s natural beauty with her husband and dog.

Question and Answer forum for K12 Students

Essay Writing For Class 8

Essay Writing For Class 8 Format, Topics, Examples, Exercises

Essay writing for class 8 worksheet.

Essay writing is an essential skill that students must develop to succeed academically. It is a form of writing that requires students to express their ideas and thoughts on a particular topic in a clear and concise manner. Class 8 is a crucial year for students as they begin to learn more complex writing skills, including essay writing.

In this article, the focus will be on essay writing for Class 8 students. The article will provide an overview of the different types of essays, including narrative, English Grammar , and descriptive essays. It will also discuss the importance of coherence of ideas, grammar, and spelling when writing an essay.

Furthermore, the article will provide a list of essay writing topics for Class 8 students to aid in their practice sessions. These topics will be presented in simple language for students to read and understand on their own. By the end of this article, Class 8 students will have a better understanding of essay writing and be equipped with the necessary skills to write an effective essay.

Also Check: How To go about writing an essay

Understanding The Essay Topic

When writing an essay, understanding the topic is crucial. It is the foundation upon which the entire essay is built. Without a clear understanding of the topic, the essay will lack direction and coherence. In this section, we will discuss how to understand an essay topic and what steps to take to ensure that you are on the right track.

The first step in understanding an essay topic is to read it carefully. It is essential to pay attention to the wording of the topic and to note any key terms or phrases. These can provide valuable clues as to what the essay is asking for and what approach to take.

After reading the topic, it is important to brainstorm ideas. This involves jotting down any thoughts or ideas that come to mind, no matter how insignificant they may seem. Brainstorming can help to generate ideas and to narrow down the focus of the essay.

Once the ideas have been generated, it is time to organize them. This can be done by creating an outline, which can help to structure the essay and ensure that all the important points are covered. An outline can also help to identify any gaps in the argument and to ensure that the essay flows logically.

It is also important to consider the audience when writing an essay. Who is the essay aimed at, and what do they already know about the topic? This can help to determine the level of detail to include and the tone to use.

In summary, understanding the essay topic is essential for writing a successful essay. By carefully reading the topic, brainstorming ideas, organizing them, and considering the audience, the writer can ensure that the essay is well-structured, coherent, and relevant to the topic at hand.

Research and Gathering Information

When it comes to writing an essay, research, and gathering information are crucial steps that should not be overlooked. This section will cover two essential sub-sections of research and gathering information: Using Reliable Sources and Note Taking Techniques.

Using Reliable Sources

Using reliable sources is crucial when conducting research for an essay. Reliable sources are those that provide accurate, trustworthy, and unbiased information. Examples of reliable sources include academic journals, books, and reputable websites.

It is important to note that not all sources are created equal. Sources such as personal blogs, Wikipedia, and social media posts may not always be reliable. Therefore, it is essential to evaluate the credibility of sources before using them in an essay.

To evaluate the credibility of sources, one should consider the following factors:

  • Authorship: Who wrote the source? Are they an expert in the field?
  • Publication Date: How recent is the source? Is it up-to-date?
  • Objectivity: Is the source biased? Does it present a balanced view?
  • Evidence: Does the source provide evidence to support its claims?

Note Taking Techniques

Note-taking is an important part of the research process. Good note-taking techniques can help organize information and make it easier to write an essay.

One effective note-taking technique is to use a graphic organizer. A graphic organizer is a visual tool that helps organize information in a logical and structured manner. Examples of graphic organizers include mind maps, Venn diagrams, and flowcharts.

Another effective note-taking technique is to use bullet points. Bullet points are a concise and organized way to record information. They help break down complex information into smaller, more manageable pieces.

In conclusion, research and gathering information are essential steps in writing an essay. Using reliable sources and effective note-taking techniques can help make the research process more efficient and organized.

Essay Structure

When it comes to writing an essay, it is important to have a clear structure in mind. This not only helps the writer to organize their thoughts and ideas but also makes it easier for the reader to follow along. The basic structure of an essay consists of three main parts: the introduction, the body, and the conclusion.


The introduction is the opening paragraph of the essay and serves as a way to grab the reader’s attention and provide some background information on the topic. It should include a thesis statement, which is a sentence or two that summarizes the main point or argument of the essay.

The body of the essay is where the writer presents their main arguments and supporting evidence. It is important to organize the body of the essay in a logical and coherent manner, with each paragraph focusing on a specific point or idea. One effective way to do this is to use subheadings or bullet points to break up the text and make it easier to read.

The conclusion is the final paragraph of the essay and should summarize the main points and restate the thesis statement in a new way. It is also a good idea to leave the reader with a final thought or question to encourage further reflection on the topic.

Overall, a well-structured essay is essential for conveying ideas and arguments clearly and effectively. By following the basic structure of an introduction, body, and conclusion, writers can ensure that their essays are organized, coherent, and easy to follow.

Essay Structure

Drafting the Essay

Drafting is a crucial step in essay writing. It is the process of developing a complete first version of a piece of writing. Here are some tips for drafting an essay for Class 8:

Writing the Introduction

The introduction is the first part of the essay that the reader will see. It should be short, to the point, neat, and informative. The introduction should grab the reader’s attention and provide a clear idea of what the essay is about. One way to do this is to start with a hook, such as a surprising fact or a thought-provoking question. The introduction should also include a thesis statement that clearly states the main point of the essay.

Developing the Body

The body of the essay is where the writer presents their arguments and evidence to support the thesis statement. Each paragraph in the body should focus on a single idea or argument and should be well-organized. The writer should use transition words and phrases to connect the paragraphs and make the essay flow smoothly. It is also essential to provide evidence to support each argument, such as examples, statistics, or quotes from experts.

Concluding the Essay

The conclusion is the final part of the essay, where the writer summarizes the main points and restates the thesis statement. The conclusion should not introduce any new ideas but should provide a sense of closure to the essay. One way to do this is to end with a memorable statement or a call to action. The writer should also proofread the essay to check for any spelling or grammar errors.

In conclusion, drafting is an essential step in essay writing, and it requires careful planning and organization. By following these tips, students can improve their essay-writing skills and produce high-quality essays.

Revision and Proofreading

Revision and proofreading are essential steps in the essay writing process. These steps allow the writer to make necessary changes to their work, ensuring that the final product is error-free and of high quality. In this section, we will discuss the importance of revision and proofreading, and provide tips on how to effectively execute these steps.


Self-review is the process of reviewing one’s own work. This step is crucial because it allows the writer to identify areas that need improvement. When revising their work, the writer should consider the following:

  • Content: Does the essay address the topic? Is the thesis statement clear and concise? Are the supporting arguments relevant?
  • Structure: Are the paragraphs organized logically? Does the essay have a clear introduction, body, and conclusion?
  • Language: Is the language used appropriate for the target audience? Are there any grammatical errors? Are the sentences clear and concise?

Peer Review

Peer review is the process of having someone else review one’s work. This step is beneficial because it allows the writer to receive feedback from another perspective. When seeking feedback from a peer, the writer should consider the following:

  • Ask for specific feedback: Ask the peer to focus on specific aspects of the essay, such as the thesis statement or the organization of the paragraphs.
  • Be open to criticism: Accept constructive criticism and use it to improve the essay.
  • Consider the peer’s perspective: Consider the peer’s perspective and use it to improve the essay’s clarity and relevance.

In conclusion, revision and proofreading are essential steps in the essay writing process. By following the tips provided in this section, writers can ensure that their essays are error-free and of high quality.

Recommended Reading: Essay Writing For Class 8

Essay Presentation

When it comes to presenting an essay, there are certain guidelines that need to be followed in order to ensure that the essay is presented in a clear and professional manner. This section will cover the formatting guidelines, referencing, and citation for essay writing for Class 8.

Formatting Guidelines

The formatting guidelines for essay writing for Class 8 are as follows:

  • Use a standard font such as Times New Roman or Arial, with a font size of 12.
  • Use double spacing throughout the essay.
  • Include a header on each page with the student’s name, the title of the essay, and the page number.
  • Use one-inch margins on all sides of the page.
  • Use headings and subheadings to organize the essay and make it easier to read.


Referencing is an important part of essay writing, as it gives credit to the sources used in the essay. When referencing sources, the following guidelines should be followed:

  • Use in-text citations to indicate where information was obtained.
  • Include a reference list at the end of the essay, listing all sources used.
  • Use a recognized referencing style, such as APA or MLA.

Citation is another important part of essay writing. When citing sources, the following guidelines should be followed:

  • Use quotation marks to indicate direct quotes.
  • Paraphrase information obtained from sources, using one’s own words.

Overall, following these guidelines will ensure that the essay is presented in a clear and professional manner and that the sources used are properly credited.

importance of justice essay class 8

Class 8 Civics Chapter 10 Law and Social Justice Important Questions and Answers

CBSE Class 8 Civics Chapter 10 Law and Social Justice Important Questions cover the major concepts of the chapter. Solving answers of these important questions help students to revise the Chapter most competently. We prepared these questions as per the latest NCERT book and CBSE syllabus. Practising the questions before the exam will ensure excellent marks in the exam.

CBSE Class 8 Civics Chapter 10 Important Questions PDF

Very short answer type questions.

1. What is Minimum Wages Act? [V. Imp.] Answer: Minimum Wages Act specifies that wages should not be below a specified minimum limit.

2. Name the three states which have published plans to rescue and rehabilitate children who are working as domestic servants. Answer:  Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

3. How can you say that the Child Labour Prevention Act is not successful in achieving its goal? [V. Imp.] Answer:  Even today 74% of child domestic workers are under the age of 16.

4. Which disaster brought the issue of environment to the forefront? Answer:  The Bhopal gas tragedy brought the issue of environment to the forefront.

5. Write the full form of CNG. Answer:  CNG stands for Compressed Natural Gas.

6. Name the three South Asian countries which play hosts for industries producing pesticides, asbestos, etc. Answer:  India, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

7. What do old ships no longer in use contain? Answer:  These ships contain potentially dangerous and harmful substances.

8: How can the government ensure social justice? Answer:  Through making, enforcing and upholding certain laws, the government can control the activities of individuals or private companies so as to ensure social justice.

Short Answer Type Questions

1. What is the worth of an Indian worker? [V. Imp.]

Answer:  One worker can easily replace another. Since there is so much unemployment, there are many workers who are willing to work in unsafe conditions in return for a wage. Making use of the worker’s vulnerability, employers ignore safety in workplaces. Thus, even so many years after the Bhopal gas tragedy, there are regular reports of accidents in construction sites, mines or factories due to the ruthless attitude of the employers.

2. How was the environment viewed before the Bhopal gas tragedy?

Answer:  The environment was treated as a free entity and any industry could pollute the air and water without any restrictions. Whether it was our rivers, air, groundwater the environment was being polluted and the health of people disregarded. In 1984, there were very few laws protecting the environment in India, and there was hardly any enforcement of these laws. It was the Bhopal gas disaster that brought the issue of environment to the forefront.

3: What were the reasons for the Bhopal tragedy?

Answer:  The Union Carbide tank’s alarms had not worked for 4 years. The steam boiler, intended to clean the pipes, was out of action and water sprays designed to “knock down” gas leaks were poorly designed. No action plans had been established to cope with incidents of this magnitude. The local authorities were not informed of the quantities or dangers of chemicals used and manufactured at the factory. These were the reasons for the Bhopal tragedy.

4: What are the reasons for the sharp differences in safety standards between the 2 Union carbide factories in the USA and India?

Answer:  India has a high rate of unemployment and due to this workers are willing to work in unsafe conditions. One worker can easily replace another due to over population. Ignorance and the vulnerability of Indian workers is also another reason why the safety standards in the Indian factory were very much lower than the factory in USA.

Long Answer Type Questions

1. Write the adverse effects of orders on environmental issues given by courts. What can be done to make environment safe? [V. Imp.]

Answer:  We can explain it with an example. The courts directed industries in residential areas in Delhi to close down or shift out of the city. Several of these industries were polluting the neighbourhood and discharge from these industries was polluting the river Yamuna, because they had been set up without following the rules.

The court’s action solved one problem no doubt but at the same time it created another problem, i.e. the problem of livelihood. Because of the closure, many workers lost their jobs. Others were forced to go to far-away places where these factories had relocated. And the same problem now began to come up in these areas—for now these places became polluted. And the issue of the safety conditions of workers remained unaddressed. Environment is a public facility. Hence it must be given due attention. We must think how we can make our environment clean. One way this can be done is to gradually move to cleaner technologies and processes in factories. The government has to encourage and support factories to do this. It will need to impose fine on those who pollute. This will ensure that the workers’ livelihoods are protected and both workers and communities living around the factories enjoy a safe environment.

2: How do government certifications like the ISI certification help the consumer?

Answer:  When a product has the ISI mark the consumer can be certain that the product is of good quality and it is safe. Hall mark certification assures the consumer of the purity of gold they buy. ISO certification assures the consumer that a company has a good Quality Management System. Consumers might be put to risk by the poor quality of products such as electrical appliances, food, medicines if the government had not set up the Bureau of Indian Standards.

3: Write a brief note on the Bhopal gas tragedy.

Answer:  Union Carbide was an American Company which had a factory in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India, which produced pesticides. At midnight on 2 nd  December, 1984, methyl-isocyanides – a highly poisonous gas – started leaking from the factory plant. Within three days, more than 8,000 people were dead. Hundreds of thousands were maimed. Most of those exposed to the poison gas came from poor, working-class families. There are nearly 50,000 people today who are too sick to work. Among those who survived, many developed severe respiratory disorders, eye problems and other disorders. Children developed peculiar abnormalities. The Bhopal disaster is frequently cited as the world’s worst industrial disaster.

4: In what way was the Government responsible for the Bhopal tragedy?

Answer:  Safety laws were lax in India and these weak safety laws were not enforced. Government officials refused to recognise the plant as hazardous and allowed it to come up in a populated locality. Though there was some objection regarding the safety violation, the government allowed the factory to start production as it was providing jobs for the local people. The government did not take the initiative to ask the Union Carbide Company to shift to cleaner technology or safer procedures. Government inspectors continued to approve the procedures in the plant, even when there were repeated incidents of poisonous gas leaks. So the government has to bear certain responsibility for the tragedy.


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