call actions and laws and institutions just or unjust. We speak of
distributive justice and reparative justice. I'm wondering how we are
to sort this out?
One possibility is to look at typical cases in which we speak of justice and ask ourselves
what is common and peculiar to them. We can return to this question if
you want, but I don't think we should begin with it. I don't think we
should assume that
there is anything common and peculiar to all cases in which we speak
of justice. Perhaps
'just' and 'justice' don't always mean the same thing. Who knows?
Instead, I suggest that we try to simplify things (for the moment,
anyway) and start by considering an ancient rule of
justice that is accepted by almost all moral philosophers. The rule
can be stated as follows:
"Treat equal cases equally"
To be more complete, we should say "treat equal cases equally and
unequal cases unequally," but I'm going to use the shorter version
because it's convenient.
This rule can be applied to laws, to decisions made in courts, and
to many cases in which benefits and burdens are handed
Does this rule help us? If so, how? If not, why