Image via WikipediaJustice is regarded as the code of moral rightness and equality of humanity before the law without regard to race, creed, color, religious and political affiliation, and sex and gender. Justice is the most important determinant that enables human beings to coexist in peace and harmony. For justice to flourish there must be sets of laws and regulations that act as guiding principles among nations and communities. In justice, every individual citizen is accorded an equal share of rights that may either be natural or legal as by law established. Justice embodies various concepts according to many interpretations. Some prime concepts of justice include distributive justice, strict egalitarianism, libertarian principles, and feminist principles (Stanford, 2007).
It is reputedly assumed that in 431 BCE, Pericles, an Athenian general became the first to speak out aloud regarding equal justice in terms of settling private disputes. Incentives, resources, and legal ability could be determined as being part of equal justice (Rhode, 1997). For a long time, the use of the phrase “equal justice before the law” has been used as a reference to how the law encompasses every individual citizen of the United States. However, the phrase has been regarded as just as rhetoric with no legal recourse by some figures who are expert in the fields of law, ethics, and philosophy.
According to Hart (1974), social equity “denotes the spirit and habit of fairness, justness, and right dealing which would regulate the intercourse of men …the rule of doing to all others as we desire them to do to us”; or as it is expressed by Justinian, “to live honestly, to harm nobody, to render every man his due”. Social equity also implies the equal distribution of resources for all. Social equity ensures all people acquire equal share and strives to see everyone gets a fair share of equitable supplies. Examples of social inequity include unequal distribution of healthcare and disproportional welfare benefits to those who cannot afford to place food on their tables.
There are some features that may be detrimental to justice and social equity which if not overturned may cause myriads of damages to human coexistence and interdependency. Dwindling socioeconomic indicators emanating from poor distribution of resources, racial/ethnic imbalances, and gender inequalities pave the way for injustices and social inequities (Krieger, 2011). Heuristically, justice and social equity are two interrelated concepts in ethics and have been known to share common grounds. The term social justice denotes that justice must apply to all sectors of society. Social justice is against the idea of having one section of society enjoying the fruits of social justice and social equity while the rest suffer in silence without a representative voice and without legal representation.
Distributive Justice, Retrieved from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/justice-distributive/#Scope
Hart, David K. (1974) Social Equity, Justice, and the Equitable Administrator, Public Administration Review, Vol. 34, No. 1 (Jan. - Feb., 1974), pp. 3-11
Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War, Written 431 B.C.E, Translated by Richard Crawley (1874).
Rhode, Deborah, Equal Justice Under Law, Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, Santa Clara University, Retrieved from http://ww.scu.edu/ethics/publications/submitted/rhode/equal-justice.html
Krieger, Nancy (2011), Advice to the Next President, Harvard School of Public Health, Retrieved from http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hphr/social-health-hazards/spr08dispkreiger/