Justice, classically, is often portrayed as a blindfolded lady carrying scales and a sword.
This represents the challenge of impartiality and responsible and fair evaluation of cases in light of facts, rights, value and values that must consistently lie behind the unfortunate reality that the state and its officers must wield the sword in defence of the civil peace of justice.
Otherwise, the state descends into incompetence or even the dark night of tyranny and its consequences: injustice, undermining of rights (especially for the weak) and loss of legitimacy that justifies a demand for reformation.
Thus, justice is inevitably a moral issue and therefore inevitably raises the question of the status of OUGHT in light of the IS-OUGHT gap. Thence — given that rights are binding morally grounded expectations that we be respected in terms of our lives, liberty, innocent reputation and more — we face the challenge that in the end there is but one truly solid answer as to the IS that grounds OUGHT.
An answer that was aptly summed up by the fifty-odd US Founders in the 1776 US Declaration of Independence:
When . . . it becomes necessary for one people . . . to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, [cf Rom 1:18 – 21, 2:14 – 15, 13:1 – 10], that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security . . . .
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions [Cf. Judges 11:27 and discussion in Locke], do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
All of this becomes highly relevant when we see how Carpathian reacted to Anthropic commenting on Rom 12 – 13 in a recent thread:
>>A, 17: I’d also point out that Romans 12 states that we are to leave revenge up to God, which is usually taken to mean in the afterlife. However, Romans 13 goes on to say that the government has been given the sword to act as God’s servant in punishing evil and rewarding good. Thus, leaving it up to God does not mean doing nothing. Rather, it means leaving the punishment on this Earth to those who have God given authority to punish on this Earth, plus God in the life to come.
[Citing A:] Rather, it means leaving the punishment on this Earth to those who have God given authority to punish on this Earth, plus God in the life to come.
This is a very frightening statement.
This is the type of thinking that leads fundamentalist groups to believe they have a right to kill infidels.
No one has a right from God to punish anyone.
No one has a right from God to tell anyone else what to do.
This instant leap to an invidious comparison of the Rom 13:4 principle that :
. . . [the civil authority] is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.
. . . to the depredations of Islamist terrorists and the like reflects an unfortunately common secularist indoctrination in our day that instantly associates religious views with utter irrationality, inclination to violent oppression and worse.
Such fear-mongering blind prejudice, hostile (or in some cases even bigoted . . . ) contempt and projection, already need to be corrected. (Cf here, earlier at UD in reply to AS.)
But the matter gets deeper, as C kept on going in reaction to remonstrance:
>>No one has a right from God to punish anyone.
No one has a right from God to tell anyone else what to do.
This includes Christians, Muslims and anyone who believes God chooses sides in the affairs of humans . . . .
It is simply not acceptable to take any teachings from any specific holy book and claim that they are applicable to those who do not hold that specific holy book as being a true representation of God’s intent.
I do not bow to the authority of any religion and no one should be expected to . . . .
Religion should stay in churches and in the minds of men and women. It has no business in the laws of man.
Freedom of religion allows people to believe anything they want, not to act on those beliefs.>>
And, on and on.
For telling instance (and the reason this post is titled as above):
>>Do you not understand what the term “might makes right” means?
It means if that if I don’t agree with the wielder of that sword, it is completely irrelevant what I think or whether or not I am right.
If a Christian in a land where the laws are derived from a non-Christian holy book has problems with a law, and the Christians do not wield the sword, then that law is going to apply, regardless of whether it flies in the face of Christian teachings.
The same applies to non-Christians here.
Religion has no business in law-making.>>
The first problem here is that the instant leaping to the most extreme fear-mongering and demand for a lockout of the religious already speaks volumes.
But also, it is worth the while to note a key distinction between philosophy and worldviews-rooted analysis on the one hand (which can and does profitably discuss what we may term the God of the philosophers), and religions and their particular traditions on the other. In particular, it is a serious argument that we are morally governed, under the compelling force of OUGHT in recognition of our duties one to the other, and that this is rooted in our common human nature thus the dignity and rights that that common humanity confers, based on the Eternal One, our Creator who endowed us with that dignity and rights.
Indeed, that is exactly the stand of the US Founders in 1776.
So too, it is not surprising that — and this was cited at no. 2 in the very same thread of discussion (before C’s outburst) — we saw from Locke citing Hooker using Aristotle, in his second treatise on civil government, Ch 2:
>>. . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. [–> Thus, we most easily perceive and regard this duty when owed to us, now we must see that others of like duty are owed the same . . . where our evident natural constitution, our surrounding world and our interior life join together in speaking to us through heart, mind and conscience, but are we inclined to listen?] From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [[Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [[Eccl. Polity,preface, Bk I, “ch.” 8, p.80]>>
And, even more relevantly [ cf. no 4 in the thread], Blackstone’s 1765 Commentaries on the Laws of England, famously observes:
>>Man, considered as a creature, must necessarily be subject to the laws of his creator, for he is entirely a dependent being . . . consequently, as man depends absolutely upon his maker for every thing, it is necessary that he should in all points conform to his maker’s will. This will of his maker is called the law of nature. For as God, when he created matter, and endued it with a principle of mobility, established certain rules for the perpetual direction of that motion; so, when he created man, and endued him with freewill to conduct himself in all parts of life, he laid down certain immutable laws of human nature, whereby that freewill is in some degree regulated and restrained, and gave him also the faculty of reason to discover the purport of those laws . . . These are the eternal, immutable laws of good and evil, to which the creator himself in all his dispensations conforms; and which he has enabled human reason to discover, so far as they are necessary for the conduct of human actions. Such among others are these principles: that we should live honestly [NB: cf. Exod. 20:15 – 16], should hurt nobody [NB: cf. Rom 13:8 – 10], and should render to every one his due [NB: cf. Rom 13:6 – 7 & Exod. 20:15]; to which three general precepts Justinian[1: a Juris praecepta sunt hace, honeste vivere. alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere. Inst, 1. 1. 3] has reduced the whole doctrine of law [and, Corpus Juris, Justinian’s Christianised precis and pruning of perhaps 1,000 years of Roman jurisprudence, in turn is the foundation of law for much of Europe].>>
Why was all of this brushed aside in such an urgent fury to lash out at and lock out the religious from the public square?
First, because of a now deeply ingrained, indoctrinated ignorance about and/or distortion of the major contribution of the Judaeo-Christian tradition to the rise of modern liberty.
Second, there is a deep rooted ignorance of the inevitability of the roots of rights, justice and law being moral, putting the IS-OUGHT GAP and its resolution in the IS that grounds OUGHT at the centre of reflection on law. (Those who ignore, denigrate or undermine that connexion undercut the foundations of the very justice they claim to advocate.)
Third, in our day, there is a linked failure to properly appreciate the significance of natural moral law for the foundations of justice, which is intelligible to the reasonable and responsible man Hooker and Aristotle discussed.
SB picked that thread of thought up aptly, at No 41:
Do you not understand what the term “might makes right” means?
Yes, and it should be avoided at all costs. In keeping with that point, the role of religion can be overplayed or underplayed. Both radical theocracy, which you rightly fear, and radical secularism, which you don’t seem to fear enough, are to be avoided.
The Declaration of Independence explained it in just the right proportions: Natural rights come from the “Laws of Nature” and “Nature’s God.” Not from any individual expression of religious beliefs, at one extreme, and not from a secular state, at the other extreme
With that standard, everyone, including leaders of the state are bound to, and accountable to, the “natural moral law,” which defines which laws are just and unjust. Accordingly, the civil laws are supposed to be informed by that same natural moral law, which holds everyone accountable, including the lawmakers.>>
Anthropic adds, just as aptly, at No. 43:
“No one has a right from God to tell anyone else what to do.”
This isn’t a college dorm bull session, C, where you try to justify cheating on an exam — or a girlfriend.
As any grownup knows, society absolutely depends upon people respecting the laws. Yes, those funny things that tell people what to do. Don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t murder, for instance. They apply to everyone, including those who don’t believe that God gave the Ten Commandments — that’s where they came from.
Yes, our society historically does claim a right from God to prohibit people from doing these things. Plus slavery, rape, and child abuse.
If these prohibitions are simply man-made constructions, then they can be changed willy-nilly, as they have no basis that must be respected. As the late Yale Law Prof Arthur Leff put it, man-made law is always subject to the grand “Sez who?” Divine law is not.
Professor Leff, an agnostic, had no theological ax to grind. He just pointed out that, without an ultimate Lawgiver, laws have no basis beyond the cultural consensus of the moment. We might feel that torturing babies for entertainment is wrong, but that’s just our opinion.
Leff ultimately concludes that good and evil really do exist. However, he is frustrated because, without an “unevaluated Evaluator”, there is no ultimate basis for that knowledge.
Ironically, you end up sawing off the branch you are sitting on. Your claim to individual freedom to do as you please only has traction in a society that has a high regard for human dignity & worth. Historically that’s pretty rare.
In fact, historically it has arisen only in Judeo-Christian cultures which regard mankind as being made in the image of God. Without that God-based idea, no one has any reason to honor your choices.
Just ask any North Korean.>>
This brings us to the background but highly relevant issue that evolutionary materialist scientism and secularism undermine recognition of responsible, reasonable freedom, and force the conclusion that might and manipulation make ‘right.” So, it is quite natural for those whose thought is in thralldom to such, to equate the sword with raw force, and (having missed the point of justice) build agendas of manipulation, control and domination.
If you doubt me, note here the implications of Prof Provine’s keynote remarks at the U Tenn 1998 Darwin Day celebration:
>>Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent . . . .The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will . . . . Without free will, justification for revenge disappears [–> notice, the fallacious equation of justice with revenge] and rehabilitation is the main job of judicial systems and prisons. [NB: As C. S Lewis warned, in the end, this means: reprogramming through new conditioning determined by the power groups controlling the society and its prisons. On where that may all too easily end up, ask the ghosts of the Gulag Archipelago.] We will all live in a better society when the myth of free will is dispelled . . .>>
On the contrary, when responsible, rational freedom informed by natural moral law is undermined, reason and justice will increasingly be driven out of the public square by those whose credo implies that might and manipulation make ‘right’ or ‘truth’ or ‘justice.’
As, is patently happening all around us.
We must wake up and seek sound reformation, before it is too late. END