Thursday, October 13, 2016

No Morals? No Justice.

I gave a presentation this afternoon for my social control seminar. My topic was restorative justice, particularly, criticisms made toward it and some of the implications of how informal justice styles (like restorative justice) are often mixed with retributive justice. The notes I referred to covered a lot of ground, clocking in at around a half hour worth of speaking. My favorite part was considering the relation between justice and postmodernism. Here's what I wrote:

Restorative justice, like postmodernism, places its emphasis on subjectivity. In particular, it is interested in narratives that remain at a personal level rather than meta-narratives. This is why such diverse groups of people are brought together to discuss a single issue. However, it might be argued that restorative justice is less relativistic than postmodernism. Despite postmodernism’s difficulty in being defined, it may reasonably be inferred that, at least for its serious advocates, nothing is truly morally right or morally wrong. This is a problem because justice has to do with moral rightness being brought to situations of moral wrongness. It is known intuitively that justice is a response to injustice, so if there was no injustice, there would be no need for justice at all. As such, it seems questionable to even infer that advocates of justice do not sincerely believe that what they are opposed to is actually wrong, but just some illusion that is ingrained in them by the collective conscience of the society they find themselves in. Sociologist of religion Steve Bruce asks a good question: “If it is not possible to distinguish truth from error, why do postmodernists argue with those who do not share their views?” (Bruce, 2000).

On second read, the sentence about justice not existing without injustice is perhaps a shade trite, but overall, I think I made a decent case for objective moral values.


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