What Is Justice? The Theory of Justice


What is justice? This may seem like a simple question to answer but for many in today’s society it is not. Individuals throughout society have their own distinctive explanation of justice. It is a word in which, to every person, has a different meaning. Although “Justice” has a vast list of meanings, it can somewhat be defined. Loosely, it can be defined as “the principal of fairness and the ideal of moral equity. ” In our world today they are many ways we have seen how justice work into our society, we as a society live by rules but we rules are in some ways meant to be broken.

It is seen through many eyes around the world, many of the ways justice is portrayed in different ways because laws are different around the world. I have seen how justice is severed to those who decide to break the law and seen the worst when justice is not served fairly. Justice comes with its own rules it can uphold a fair sentence or see the nasty side of how people can portray the justice system. Many can see justice a virtue that can be used to protect them from the ambiguity of criminal works. Justice in society enforces individual’s rights and to deny that the loss of freedom for some is made right by a greater good shared by others”.

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When the notion of justice becomes shared by all citizens, and equality is achieved, civility between members of society will restrict the use of some individuals as means to personal ends. Overall, Rawls argues that the most distinctive role of justice in society is to equally distribute rights and duties to individuals.


A Theory of Justice is a book of political philosophy and ethics by John Rawls. It was originally published in 1971 and revised in both 1975 (for the translated editions) and 1999. In A Theory of Justice, Rawls attempts to solve the problem of distributive justice by utilizing a variant of the familiar device of the social contract.

PRINCIPLE OF FAIR EQUALITY OF OPPURTUNITY the claim that everyone should give an equal opportunity to qualify for the more privileged positions in society’s institutions. The principle of Distributive Justice that Rawls proposes can be paraphrased by saying that the distribution of benefits and burdens in a society is just if and only if:

  • Each person has an equal right to the most extensive basic liberties compatible with the similar liberties for all, and (principle of equal liberty)
  • Social and economic inequalities are arranged so that they are both.

Rawls also proposes a general method for evaluating in a fair way the adequacy of any moral principle, it consists of: determining what principles a group of rational self- interested persons would choose to live by if they knew they would live in a society governed by those principles but they did not yet know what each of them would turn out to be like in that society.

This is: ORIGINAL POSITION an imaginary meeting of rational self- interested persons who must choose the principle of justice by which their society will be governed VEIL OF IGNORANCE the requirement that a persons in the original position must not know particulars about themselves which might bias their choices such as their sex, race, religion, income, social status, etc.

They will morally justify because the original position incorporates the Kantian moral ideas of: REVERSIBILITY capable of being applied to oneself UNIVERSALIZABILITY capable of being applied to everyone Justice and fairness are used almost interchangeably. In this case, justice is more serious and the fairness is more fundamental. The standards of justice are generally taken to be more important than utilitarian considerations. Issues involving questions of justice and fairness are usually divided into three categories: Distributive Justice: just distribution of benefits and burdens, this is concerned with the fair distribution for the societies. Retributive Justice: just imposition of punishments and penalties on those people that do something wrong. It is like blaming and punishing people that did something wrong.

Compensatory justice: Just compensation for wrong or injuries. Concerns the best way of restoring people for what they lost when others wronged them. The principle of distributive justice: It is equals should be treated equally and unequal treated unequally. Individuals who are similar in all respects relevant to the kind of treatment in question should be given similar benefits and burdens, even if they are dissimilar in other irrelevant respects; and individuals who are dissimilar in a relevant respect ought to be treated dissimilarly, in proportion to their dissimilarity.It is based on the purely logical idea that we must be consistent in the way we treat similar situations.


The Vizconde Massacre A. Brief Background (timeline) Some of the highlights of a murder case that has gripped the nation for nearly two decades: June 30, 1991. A mother and her two daughters are found dead in their own home. Estrellita Vizconde, 47, had 13 stab wounds; 18-year-old Carmela had 17 wounds and was raped before she was killed; 7-year-old Jennifer had 19 wounds. June 1995. Jessica Alfaro, a confessed drug addict, who claims to have witnessed the massacre, testifies in court.

August 1995. Based on Alfaro’s account, the justice department finds probable cause and files rape and murder charges against Hubert Webb, Antonio, Tony Boy, Lejano, Michael Gatchalian, Miguel Rodriguez, Peter Estrada, and Pyke Fernandez in the Paranaque Regional Trial Court. Two other suspects, Joey Filart and Dong Ventura, remain at large to this day. 1997. Paranaque RTC Judge Amelita Tolentino turns down Webb’s request for DNA testing to see if the DNA in the recovered semen samples from Carmela would match his. Jan. 6, 2000. Judge Tolentino finds Webb and the other accused guilty.

The accused are sentenced to life imprisonment and ordered to pay Lauro Vizconde, father of Carmela and Jennifer, more than P3 million in damages and legal fees. Police investigator Gerardo Biong, accused of destroying evidence, is convicted as an accessory to the crime. He is sentenced up to 12 years in prison. The accused are transferred to the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City. Dec. 16, 2005. The Court of Appeals upholds the guilty verdict. Jan. 29, 2007. The appellate court denies the reconsideration plea of the accused and upholds their sentence of reclusion perpetua.

Biong’s sentence is modified to six-to-12 years imprisonment. April 23, 2010. In a full court decision, the Supreme Court approves Webb’s request for DNA testing. April 27, 2010. The National Bureau of Investigation says it no longer has the semen specimen/vaginal smear taken from Carmela’s cadaver. Oct. 19, 2010. The high court reverses its decision granting Webb’s request for DNA testing. It notes the NBI declaration that it can no longer produce the semen samples, and adds: Consequently, the DNA analysis ordered by this court upon the request of appellant Webb can no longer be done.

Oct. 28, 2010. Webb asks the high court to acquit him. He says his constitutional right to due process was violated when the state through negligence or willful suppression, failed to produce the semen specimen that could have proven his innocence. Nov. 25, 2010. Lauro Vizconde, in an interview with the Inquirer, says he fears Webb et al. may be acquitted. Nov. 30, 2010. Biong is released from jail as records from the Bureau of Corrections show he has completed his 12-year jail term. Dec. 14, 2010. Webb and his co accused are acquitted by the high court and are ordered released from jail.

B. Government actions and decision about the case After series of deliberation of the case hearing the both sides of the two parties, on January 6, 2000, Judge Tolentino rendered her decision, finding Hubert Webb, Peter Estrada, Hospicio Fernandez, Michael Gatchalian, Antonio Lejano II and Miguel Rodriguez guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape with homicide. They were sentenced to life imprisonment and ordered to indemnify the Vizconde family Php 3 million for the murders. Two of the accused remain fugitives from the law: Joey Filart and Artemio Ventura.

Former Paranaque City policeman Gerardo Biong was found guilty as an accessory for burning bedsheets and tampering with other evidence in the crime. He was sentenced to eleven years in prison. Biong was released from jail on November 30, 2010 after serving his sentence. The accused party do not stop appealing, they apply for motion of reconsideration of the case but The Court of Appeals’ Third Division voted 3-2 to deny Webb’s motion for reconsideration and upheld the ruling of Judge Tolentino on December 16, 2005. The court ruled that the Paranaque RTC was correct in sentencing Webb et. l. due to “overwhelming evidence that showed Webb and the other accused had conspired to rape Carmela and, in the process, kill her and the rest of the family. “

The court also amended the award of damages from 100,000 pesos to 200,000 pesos, and also upheld the conviction of Biong as accessory to the crime “by abusing his public functions… to conceal and destroy the physical evidence in order to prevent the discovery of the crime and by allowing the destruction of the physical evidence, Biong facilitated the escape of the principal accused. After several years, in April 2010, the Supreme Court approved DNA testing to be performed on the semen specimen obtained during autopsy from Carmela Vizconde. This has resulted in the revelation by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) that they no longer had the specimens as these were remanded to the Paranaque courts. And on October 8, 2010, Webb filed an urgent motion for acquittal. On November 26, 2010, Lauro Vizconde voiced his concern to media about the purported lobbying of Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio for the reversal of the guilty verdict.

Carpio testified for the defense during the trial. The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption(VACC) asked Justice Antonio Carpio and his cousin Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales to take a leave while the case is being decided to avoid undue influence on the court’s decision. ] This was categorically denied by the Supreme Court as Justice Carpio had in fact inhibited himself from the case and was not going to take part in the deliberation.

On December 14, 2010, the Supreme Court reversed the earlier judgment of the lower court and Court of Appeals and acquitted seven of the nine accused, including Hubert Webb, finding that the prosecution failed to prove that the accused were guilty beyond reasonable doubt. The High Court put to question the quality of the testamentary evidence furnished by the witnesses. No acquittal has been made as to the two accused, Filart and Ventura, who remain at-large.


There were so many questions and mysteries that were attached in the case since it was happened. The fact that the symbol for justice was a scale was not appropriate if we were going to connect it with the issue of Vizconde Massacre. A scale symbolizes equilibrium and balance. It is most often depicted with a set of scales typically suspended from her left hand, upon which it measures the strengths of a case’s support and opposition. But how can we obtain Justice if it is really hard to get? Is justice already gone with the wind?

There is a saying “Justice denied anywhere diminishes justice everywhere. ” If we are going to analyze this statement, it is somehow refers to if justice is denied, or not given to one person or many people, then over time justice loses its value. No one believes in it anymore because it fails. So it only means that everyone deserves justice. Justice as we all know is not payable by means of property, estate, belongings, possessions, or even realty. Justice is not measured by the status of victim and the suspect in their respective society.

Justice is all about is the concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, religion, fairness, or equity, along with the punishment of the breach of said ethics. There is a saying also about justice that says “Fairness and justice are two sides of the same coin. ” This means even though something may look or seem different to another thing they are both the same. In light of the strong evidence against Hubert Webb, We believe he is guilty. A very high-profile case like this serves as a big example. This case must be solved and the Philippine Supreme Court needs to get the decision right, without any question marks.

If appealing the Webb acquittal or retrying Webb for the same crime violates the double jeopardy prohibition, then by all means please change the constitution so that justice can be served. Surely, the Philippine justice system would not see it as fit that a suspected guilty individual remain free and at large due to a legal loophole. So, what do we suggest? We suggest that Lauro Vizconde should continue with his pursuit of justice and a reinvestigation before time runs out. The Palace has already ordered the probe. We also suggest that they must verify carefully the authenticity of all the evidential documents provided by the Webbs.

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What Is Justice? The Theory of Justice. (2016, Sep 30). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/justice-and-fairness/