a. What is ‘justice’? What are its different kinds?
The concept of justice occupies centre stage both in ethics, and in legal and political philosophy. From Plato to John Rawls, everyone’s central concern has been justice. It takes on different meanings in different practical contexts.
1. Justice has to do with how individual people are treated. It gives way to values of equality, liberty, freedom, opportunity, etc.
2. Justice is the opposite of arbitrariness. It requires that where two cases are relevantly alike, they should be treated in the same way.
1.Procedural vs substantive
Procedural justice lays more emphasis on the procedure rather than the outcome. It says that if the procedure is correct, then whatever be its outcome, it is just. Substantive justice on the other hand is concerned with the way in which an individual evaluates important and meaningful things to produce an outcome. It is not just mere following of the procedure.
Eg. Let’s assume that there exists a law which allows frisking of people selectively on the basis of a particular religion. Now, according to the principles of procedural justice, the policeman is justified in frisking all muslims as the law permits. But according to the principles of substantive justice, selectively targeting someone on the basis of religion is unjustified. The law should require amendments.
2.Retributive and Reformative justice
Retributive justice implies punishing an action which was illegal with an aim to deter it.
Reformative justice implies evolving a plan of action to reform the individual so he doesn’t involve himself in acts of crime.
It assumes a distributing agent, and a number of persons who have claims on what is being distributed.
Justice here requires that the resources available to the distributor be shared according to some relevant criterion. Various social security schemes are eg. of distributive justice.
b. Is ‘democracy’ the best form of political organisation?
The best form of political organization has been a matter of intense debates from ancient times to the present ones. Plato talked of an absolutist monarchy headed by a ‘Philosopher King’ to be the best. Marx advocated for a rule by the communists where decisions are taken by the proletariat. Gandhi talked of Ram Rajya with strong decentralized village economies and minimal centralization of power.
Democracy is hard to define because it is very diverse in its application. But we can say democracy implies adherence to certain principles – like people’s participation either direct or indirect, regular elections, etc. which have inherent advantages that make it the most practicable form of political organization.
This raises the question of whether it’s the best form or not. Democracy indeed has many disadvantages as evident from Indian context.
1. At its worst it can turn into a rule of few elites, an oligarchy which reduces people’s participation.
2. It delays decision making.
3. In the absence of a democratic culture, procedural democracy is unable to deliver basic goods to people.
Despite the shortcomings, the fact that we have more democracies than any other system speaks volumes about it. We see that democracy has not only survived but thrived and expanded. Francis Fukuyama, an eminent scholar, says even the surviving monarchies of our times are democratic in their functioning to a very large extend.
The following reasons can be attributed to the same –
Responsive to popular needs which results in the will of the people being upheld. Even at its worst, it doesn’t have tendencies to become autocratic or inflict human rights violations at an unprecedented scale. The same cannot be said for any other form of organization.
It appreciates democracy and provides ample space for minorities to thrive.
It ensures the rule of law is upheld.
Democratic culture and democratic institutions form the backbone of any democratic system. Many countries that call themselves democracies have not been able to evolve strong cultures and institutions. They have procedural democracy but not substantive. Despite that they have not fought to go back to their old systems. This shows the resilience of democratic systems.