[Note: This is the second in the series of argumentative reflections. ]
There are many aspects of justice that are deeply troubling and that contain troubling implications. Among the most troubling is the utilitarian view of justice that would look at justice only from the perspective of society as a whole, in believing that it would be just and proper to allow the innocent to suffer to preserve the well-being of others. Indeed, this particular view of justice is approximated by that of Caiaphas in his view of the efficacy of condemning the one true innocent Man who has ever walked the earth, when he said in John 11:49-50: “And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.” Even apart from any sort of religious scruples, the fact that one’s moral position as a utilitarian would approach that of the notoriously corrupt high priest Caiaphas ought to provide a sense of pause as to the correctness of one’s moral positions. Speaking personally, I find utilitarianism to be particularly problematic both because the conception of utility for society as a whole and people in charge (which is alarmingly easy to conflate) tends to be divorced from rigorous and consistent standards of morals and ethics and also subject to gross violations of the rights that people deserve as human beings, on account of our standing as beings created in the image and likeness of our Creator.
My own views on justice are somewhat more complicated than any of the views which were shown in the lecture this week, all of which appear to be guilty of oversimplification and a fair amount of presentism, seeking to ground our own present prejudices as ultimate truths while neglecting the source outside of humanity by which ultimate truths come. To be sure, I do not trust the capacity of people to determine fair views of justice for themselves, seeing as we are all biased and with strong personal experiences that color our views of what is just and what is unjust in our world. Those of us who have survived deep and traumatic injustices tend to be particularly prickly to the systemic and pervasive injustices that are present in our world, not all of which have strong support among cultural and political elites. An example of the complications and nuances of my view of justice would be the question of redistributive justice, attempting to right wrongs. It is my firm belief that those who are guilty of various injustices should give restitution to victims, even if such restitution can never undo the wrongs that were committed. Additionally, I believe in a periodic “reset” of society to prevent the maldistribution of resources from leading to permanent elites and permanent struggling underclasses. However, I also believe that it is unjust to attempt to redistribute resources to attempt to right historical wrongs by punishing either societies at large or those who have not benefited or committed the original injustices in the first place. The fathers should not be punished for the sins of their sons and daughters, and vice versa. Ultimately, my belief is that true justice must come from above, however much we must seek to approximate justice as best as possible given our limitations from below.