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Article Title

"What Do We Want!"?

Abstract

If asked, most Americans would very likely say that they would rather have “justice” than something like “injustice.” And if asked what “justice” means, many would have an answer. Some responses would name abstract ideals from one religious or cultural tradition or another. One of this type that is particularly dear to me speaks of letting the oppressed go free and breaking every yoke. But other answers about the meaning of justice would be more concrete: “my son wouldn’t be in jail”; “I could pay my hospital bills”; “somebody would help me with this problem.” These definitions of justice reflect the reality of our human lives. We don’t live in abstractions. Rather, we live through concrete relationships, in particular places, with specific other people. We encounter many problems in the course of those relationships, some with other human beings and some with big organizations made up of people and rules, like corporations, government agencies, or courts. Very many of those relationships and their challenges are (supposed to be) governed by the law. For most of us, most of the time, justice involves the right resolution of temporal problems that have some legal aspect.

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