What Is Justice? The Theory of Justice

Table of Content


In contemporary society, the concept of justice is a complex challenge for many individuals. Each person has their own understanding and interpretation of justice, resulting in diverse perspectives. While there are various definitions of “Justice,” it can generally be defined as the principle of fairness and moral equality. We see the impact of justice across different aspects of our society today. Despite occasional instances where rules are meant to be violated, as a collective, we follow societal norms.

Justice is perceived differently across the globe due to varying laws. I have witnessed both the proper execution of justice for lawbreakers and the troubling absence of fair treatment. Justice operates under its own set of regulations, ensuring a just sentence or revealing the darker aspects of the judicial system. Some view justice as a virtue that safeguards them from the uncertainties of criminal activities. In society, justice defends individuals’ rights, even if it entails sacrificing some individuals’ freedom for the greater benefit of others.

This essay could be plagiarized. Get your custom essay
“Dirty Pretty Things” Acts of Desperation: The State of Being Desperate
128 writers

ready to help you now

Get original paper

Without paying upfront

According to Rawls, when all citizens share the notion of justice and achieve equality, there will be a limitation on using certain individuals as a means to personal ends due to the civility among society members. In essence, Rawls asserts that justice’s primary function in society is to equally allocate rights and responsibilities to every individual.


A Theory of Justice, written by John Rawls, is a book that delves into the realms of political philosophy and ethics. Originally published in 1971 and subsequently revised in 1975 (for translated editions) and again in 1999, this impactful work centers around Rawls’ examination of distributive justice, utilizing a modified interpretation of the social contract concept.

The Principle of Fair Equality of Opportunity asserts that all individuals should have equal chances to achieve privileged positions in society. John Rawls introduces a principle of Distributive Justice, which can be succinctly described as follows: a fair distribution of advantages and disadvantages within a community is one that aligns with this principle.

  • 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 suggests a fair method for assessing the adequacy of any moral principle. This method involves considering what principles a group of rational self-interested individuals would select to abide by if they knew they would live in a society governed by those principles, but they did not have knowledge of their own individual circumstances within that society.

This is an imaginary meeting called the Original Position where rational self-interested individuals need to select the principle of justice for their society to be governed. The Veil of Ignorance is a condition that individuals in the original position must abide by, where they are unaware of personal details like sex, race, religion, income, social status, etc., that could potentially influence their decisions.

The justification for morality is based on incorporating Kantian moral concepts into the original position. These concepts include REVERSIBILITY, which refers to applicability to oneself, and UNIVERSALIZABILITY, which refers to applicability to everyone. Justice and fairness are often used interchangeably; however, justice is considered more significant while fairness is seen as more fundamental. The standards of justice take priority over utilitarian considerations. Matters related to justice and fairness can be classified into three categories: Distributive Justice emphasizes the fair distribution of benefits and burdens within society; Retributive Justice focuses on fairly imposing punishments and penalties on wrongdoers; Corrective Justice involves holding individuals accountable for their misconduct through blame and punishment.

Compensatory justice entails the provision of equitable compensation for harms or damages suffered, ensuring that individuals are reinstated to their previous state when they have been wronged by others.

Distributive justice revolves around the principle of treating equals equally and unequals unequally. Those who share similarities in all relevant aspects should receive comparable benefits and burdens, irrespective of dissimilarities in other irrelevant aspects. Conversely, individuals who significantly differ should be treated differently based on the extent of their dissimilarity.

This concept is founded on the logical notion that consistency must be upheld in our treatment of analogous situations.


The Vizconde Massacre A. Brief Background (timeline) Some of the highlights of a murder case that has captured the nation’s attention for almost twenty years: June 30, 1991. A mother and her two daughters are discovered deceased in their own residence. Estrellita Vizconde, aged 47, had received 13 stab wounds; Carmela, aged 18, had 17 wounds and was subjected to sexual assault prior to her murder; Jennifer, aged 7, had 19 wounds. June 1995. Jessica Alfaro, a self-confessed drug addict, who asserts to have witnessed the massacre, provides testimony in court.

In August 1995, Alfaro’s account leads the justice department to find probable cause and file 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, still remain at large till this day.

In 1997, Paranaque RTC Judge Amelita Tolentino denies Webb’s request for DNA testing to determine if the DNA in the retrieved semen samples from Carmela would match his.

On January 6, 2000, Judge Tolentino finds Webb and the other accused guilty.

The individuals involved in the case have been sentenced to life imprisonment and are required to pay Lauro Vizconde, the father of Carmela and Jennifer, over P3 million for damages and legal fees. Gerardo Biong, a police investigator accused of tampering with evidence, has been found guilty as an accessory to the crime and will serve up to 12 years in prison. On December 16, 2005, they were transferred to New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City. Furthermore, on January 29, 2007, the Court of Appeals upheld their guilty verdict and denied their plea for reconsideration, thus affirming their sentence of reclusion perpetua.

Biong’s sentence was changed to six-to-12 years imprisonment on April 23, 2010. On April 27, 2010, the Supreme Court granted Webb’s request for DNA testing in a full court decision. However, on Oct. 19, 2010, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) announced that it no longer possessed the semen specimen/vaginal smear collected from Carmela’s body. As a result, the high court reversed its previous decision to allow Webb’s request for DNA testing due to the NBI’s inability to produce the semen samples and their conclusion that conducting the requested DNA analysis is no longer feasible for appellant Webb.

Webb appeals to the high court on October 28, 2010, claiming that his right to due process was violated when the state failed to provide the semen specimen as evidence of innocence. In an interview with Lauro Vizconde on November 25, 2010, concerns are raised about Webb and his co-accused potentially being acquitted. According to Bureau of Corrections records, Biong is released from prison on November 30, 2010 after serving a 12-year sentence. On December 14, 2010, Webb and his co-accused are acquitted by the high court and subsequently freed from jail.

B. Government actions and decision about the case After a series of deliberations and hearing both sides of the two parties, Judge Tolentino made her decision on January 6, 2000. She found Hubert Webb, Peter Estrada, Hospicio Fernandez, Michael Gatchalian, Antonio Lejano II, and Miguel Rodriguez guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the crime of rape with homicide. The defendants were sentenced to life imprisonment and were also ordered to pay the Vizconde family Php 3 million for the murders. Joey Filart and Artemio Ventura remain fugitives from the law.

Gerardo Biong, a former Paranaque City policeman, was given an eleven-year prison sentence for his role in the burning of bedsheets and tampering with other evidence related to the crime. He served the entire sentence and was released on November 30, 2010. Despite making multiple appeals, including a motion for reconsideration, Webb’s plea was rejected by a vote of 3-2 from the Court of Appeals’ Third Division. This decision upheld Judge Tolentino’s ruling on December 16, 2005. The court confirmed that the Paranaque RTC had correctly sentenced Webb et. al., as there was “overwhelming evidence” proving their involvement in conspiring to rape Carmela and subsequently kill her and her family.

The court modified the damages awarded from 100,000 pesos to 200,000 pesos. They also affirmed Biong’s conviction as an accessory to the crime due to his abuse of public functions. Biong used his position to conceal and destroy physical evidence in order to prevent the discovery of the crime and facilitated the escape of the main accused by allowing the destruction of evidence. In April 2010, the Supreme Court authorized DNA testing on the semen specimen obtained during Carmela Vizconde’s autopsy. The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) later revealed that they no longer possessed the specimens, as they had been sent back to the Paranaque courts. On October 8, 2010, Webb urgently requested acquittal. On November 26, 2010, Lauro Vizconde expressed concerns to the media about Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio allegedly lobbying for the guilty verdict to be reversed.

During the trial, Justice Antonio Carpio testified in favor of the defense. The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) asked both Justice Carpio and his cousin, Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales, to abstain from participating in the case until a decision is reached to prevent any potential impact on the court’s ruling. Nonetheless, the Supreme Court clarified that Justice Carpio had already excused himself from the case and would not be involved in its discussion.

On December 14, 2010, the Supreme Court overturned the rulings of the lower court and Court of Appeals and cleared seven out of nine accused individuals, including Hubert Webb. The court found that there was insufficient evidence presented by the prosecution to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The High Court also had reservations about the reliability of witness testimonies during the trial. However, Filart and Ventura, who are two remaining accused individuals, have not been declared innocent and are currently on the run.


There were numerous inquiries and enigmas linked to the case ever since it occurred. The utilization of a scale as the symbol for justice was unsuitable when connected to the Vizconde Massacre issue. A scale typically represents equilibrium and balance, showing a set of scales suspended from her left hand, used to gauge the strengths of arguments supporting or opposing a case. But if obtaining justice is a challenging task, does it mean justice has vanished?

“Justice denied anywhere diminishes justice everywhere.” This saying highlights that when justice is withheld from individuals, the overall value of justice decreases. The failure of the justice system leads to a loss of trust amongst people and underscores the significance of equitable justice for all. It’s important to acknowledge that money or social status should not influence access to or measurement of justice.

Justice encompasses the idea of ethical, rational, legal, natural law, religious, fair, and equitable moral correctness, including the punishment for violating those principles. The common saying that “fairness and justice are two sides of the same coin” implies their inherent similarity despite outward differences. Given the compelling evidence against Hubert Webb, we firmly hold him responsible. This prominent case serves as a significant illustration, emphasizing the imperative necessity for the Philippine Supreme Court to deliver an unequivocal and accurate verdict.

If appealing the acquittal of Webb or retrying him for the same crime violates the prohibition of double jeopardy, then please consider amending the constitution to ensure that justice is served. The Philippine justice system surely would not agree that a potentially guilty individual should go free due to a legal loophole. Therefore, we recommend that Lauro Vizconde persevere in seeking justice and request a reinvestigation before time expires. The Palace has already directed an inquiry. Additionally, we advise thorough verification of the authenticity of all evidential documents submitted by the Webbs.

Cite this page

What Is Justice? The Theory of Justice. (2016, Sep 30). Retrieved from


Remember! This essay was written by a student

You can get a custom paper by one of our expert writers

Order custom paper Without paying upfront