Is Justice


only possible among equals?

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About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

43 thoughts on “Is Justice

  1. Mordanicus says:

    Maybe. It might however more important to have truly great men and women who are able to inspire others to live justice.

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  2. john zande says:

    If so, how does the little man, the disenfranchised, receive justice?

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    • makagutu says:

      Does he ever receive justice? That is the question.

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      • john zande says:

        Ahhhh, tis the question. What is “real” justice?

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        • makagutu says:

          Now John, you have spoiled the fun. I have to go back to my philosophy teacher.
          By answering your question, we will arrive at whether justice is possible.
          A while back, I wrote all we desire and call justice, is in my view, seeking to revenge. Either we do it our own way, or we defer it to another to act on our behalf.

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        • John, this is a great point — question.

          “Systems of justice… for example, can be regarded as the successful transformation of a deep-seated urge for revenge – euphemized as retribution – which keeps the urge within acceptable boundaries.”
          Frans De Waal, Good Natured, p. 194

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          • john zande says:

            “keeps the urge within acceptable boundaries”

            I think that nails it perfectly.

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          • Revenge and Justice Among Primates

            “Chimpanzees, our closest genetic cousins, are a highly sociable species with a well-developed system of reciprocity. Reciprocal relations probably developed out of the need for food sharing in a species dependent upon food exchange, especially in support of pregnant and nursing females and young offspring.

            Retaliation for breaches in reciprocity became an integral part of the chimpanzee social system and out of this grew a “system of revenge” according to the noted primatologist, Frans de Waal (1996). Reciprocal altruism is an idea first developed by Robert Trivers in the early 1970’s. It is a complex mechanism based on the remembrance of favors given and received, allowing the development of cooperative networks that expand beyond kinship ties.

            As de Waal points out, “the Golden Rule was made by creatures who began following the reciprocity rule, ‘do as the other did, and expect the other to do as you did’” (p. 136). The first hints of moral obligation and indebtedness are already recognizable among primates. But Trivers also recognized that a reciprocal relationship would only last as long as there was no cheating.

            Cheating – taking more than one gives – undermines the system of cooperation and can threaten everyone in a complex, interactive social system. The only way to protect against this is to make cheating costly, an outcome leading to the evolution of punishment.” Source

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          • makagutu says:

            Very interesting

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  3. How would you define the term “equals”. Seeing someone as fully human?

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    • makagutu says:

      Interesting questions there Victoria.

      Between a rich man and a poor man, is justice possible, as a manner of example?

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      • Not if it’s the rich man making the decisions for the poor man.

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        • makagutu says:

          Are there times when the poor man makes decision for the rich man?

          Liked by 1 person

          • Oops, not sure how that happened, but my comment below “only when they revolt” was intended to be posted under your last reply to me.

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          • Tish Farrell says:

            In pre-colonial Kenya, did you not have systems of justice that served everyone? I’m thinking of the elders’ councils where everyone had the right to have their say. The wrongdoer paid compensation in cattle or goats for whatever crime they had committed, from killing someone downwards. I seem to remember that the Meru, in particular, had a highly developed legal system. In pre-colonial systems it was all about restoring the natural order of things; any wrongdoing affected the whole community, and so there was communal impetus to see that justice prevailed. This notion is totally at odds with the capitalist concept of justice whereby only someone with money can have their case heard, and how far they are fairly represented is also often directly related to how far they can afford the best lawyer.

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          • makagutu says:

            I have read about the council of elders and there roles and now the office of the chief justice encourages people where possible to use other means of arbitration other than courts.

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          • Tish Farrell says:

            Well that’s a turn up, Noel.

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  4. aguywithoutboxers says:

    Perhaps this would be possible and true in a perfect world. In reality, is justice ever served? I think not. I hope you are enjoying your weekend, my Nairobi brother!

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  5. themodernidiot says:

    Are there really equals?

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  6. tildeb says:

    The term ‘equal’ is being used here in different ways.

    I think Victoria’s suggestion that justice has to be linked to social reciprocity is bang on so I’m not going to suggest that ‘justice’ is another term that needs to better defined for the purpose of addressing the question.

    But ‘equality’ assumed to be synonymous with whatever constitutes equals is a loaded assertion because there are various kinds of equality when used in the same social sense as ‘justice’ (rather than a direct comparison of ‘sameness’ with another individual).

    I think one can have justice without equality as long as the same condition is met for social reciprocity. For example, a small fine for breaking a rule – such as a parking infraction – may have no consequence to the rich person but a serious blow to a poorer one. Justice – in the sense of social reciprocity (no one can park in this place) – is not served unless there is the same element of reciprocity of effect. A small fine for the poor person has the same effect only if the size of the fine produces the same social consequence for the wealthier person. Equality in this sense means an unequal punishment! Justice is only served if there is inequality… to produce equality of effect.

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    • makagutu says:

      There is this dialogue in Sophie’s world

      “Come here,” said Sophie.
      She took the girl’s hand and walked with her back to the rich man.
      “You must see to it that this girl gets a better life,” she said.
      The man glanced up from his paperwork and said: “That kind of thing costs money, and I said not so much as a penny must go to waste.”
      “But it’s not fair that you’re so rich when this girl is so poor,” insisted Sophie. “It’s unjust!”
      “Bah! Humbug! Justice only exists between equals.”
      “What do you mean by that?”
      “I had to work my way up, and it has paid off. Progress, they call it.”
      “If you don’t help me, I’ll die,” said the poor girl.
      The businessman looked up again from his ledgers. Then he threw his quill pen onto the table impatiently.
      “You don’t figure in my accounts! So–be off with you–to the poorhouse!”

      What are your thoughts?
      I have no disagreements with your explanation on social reciprocity.

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  7. archaeopteryx1 says:

    Following that thought to its logical conclusion, if a man is to be tried by a jury of his peers, shouldn’t a man accused of murder be tried by a jury of murderers –?

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    • makagutu says:

      parliamentary commissions are the closes to such a jury, especially when they investigate their follows for diverting public funds, they hardly ever find them guilty of any wrongdoing.

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  8. fabryhistory says:

    This question makes me sad, because my own experiences have impressed me to believe that there is no justice without money. But I would like to be argued out of this belief, because it’s so cynical.

    Also, another problem with justice, is that everyone has their own definition of what that is exactly – and that definition is shaped by their personal belief system, or, as Robert Anton Wilson likes to call it, “BS”.

    Peace to you, Noel!

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  9. vastlycurious.com says:

    NO! Defintely not!

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  10. arsonfire says:

    Live in a way that you seem to be the standard you would like others to be held to and hope it catches on- somewhere between Nietzsche and ghandi and all is good 🙂

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