A Sense of Justice

The Electric Agora

by E. John Winner

Behold I see a canyon where many souls will die

Behold I see a world that will always wonder why

— Marty Stuart, “Wounded Knee” (1)


I am here to consider our responses to what we perceive as just or unjust.  I do not hope to reach a conclusion. I write as an educated layman, not a professor of moral philosophy. My aim is to explore what I understand by “a sense of justice,” the most basic element of which is that there is no private sense of justice. Indeed in the absence of some community with others, there is no justice at all.

In common speech, ‘justice’ and ‘fairness’ often are used interchangeably. This leads to some confusion among those unable to see the obvious difference, something that becomes painfully clear in courts of law. A defendant may claim that punching the plaintiff could…

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