A friend of mine tore into me for my assumption of ‘we are born evil’. Hence I make an attempt here to understand justice this time assuming we are all born ‘as good’.
So say, we are all born as good, yet there are crimes in society, how would one explain crimes in a society where all are born as good? I guess two possible explanations could be offered
- Circumstances force people to commit acts that are undesirable or what is said to be crime
- Circumstances present choices to an individual between the right thing to do and the wrong thing to do
o We are all born good so we should always choose the right thing
o Some of us are not entirely good and might choose the wrong thing
o Hence acts in society that could be called as crime
If, circumstances are what push a good person to choose the so called wrong thing shouldn’t the society collectively take the responsibility of creating such circumstances? Is it appropriate to punish someone who is just a victim of circumstances that were created by the society? Can that be called Justice? If he was born with a genetic disposition to choose the wrong thing, should he be punished for choosing the wrong thing or be treated for it like any one else is for other genetic ailments?
In society we often demand more rules and laws to ensure that even when circumstances present a choice of doing the right thing or the wrong thing, all the people born as good, always choose the right thing. Indicates that, all people born ‘as good’ need to be coerced to continue to be ‘good’.
The question then is about, can people born ‘as good’ punish the one who under the pressure of circumstances chose to do ‘the wrong thing’? Let’s say a person born ‘as good’ under the pressure of circumstances commits an act of murder, now other people also born ‘as good’ decide to punish this choice made by the person. Let’s assume he is awarded the capital punishment. Won’t this mean that collectively a group of people who are born ‘as good’ under the pressure of circumstances decided to do the ‘wrong thing’ namely, killing the person who chose to do ‘the wrong thing’. Can we call that just, acceptable or civilized? Can two wrongs make a right? Interestingly, 18th Century French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau, said ‘we are born with a conscience and a sense of fairness. Human nature is good until corrupted by society.
So how much responsibility is the society willing to take collectively? Can there be true Justice?