Justice Resists Simplicity

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Last Friday, August 16, 2013, DLSU Pilosopo held this big lecture on the philosophy of justice aptly entitled “Sword & Scales.” I was up bright and early so I can register and get a decent seat in the Teresa Yuchenco Auditorium. The lecture was divided among three speakers: Atty. Christopher Cruz, Dr. Jeanne Peracullo, and Dr. Adriatico Bolaños. They each gave different perspectives on the philosophy of law and justice and they were quite interesting, although I think I speak for everyone when I say that there were times when the terms got too technical.

First to speak was Atty. Cruz. His discussion was all about the Philosophical nature of law. Early in his talk, he said something that really caught my attention; something I also believe is true. He said, “Where law ends, tyranny begins.” That short sentence is really enough to show that the law really is necessary to keep us from acting like uncivilized mongrels towards each other.  Atty Cruz gave us a little bit of background of lawmaking and why it was needed in society. His talk focused on justice in context of the law, and how it changes depending on the culture or group of people. He says that laws are embedded in our society, we were born into it, and it is present in our lives until we reach our graves, but even after then, it exists to maintain harmony between people.

The second speaker was none other than my INTFILO professor, Dr. Peracullo. Her topic piqued my interest because it was about how the Apocalypse was the end to all our worldly sufferings. She approached this topic using the video game Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2, and the book of Revelations. I was actually quite glad when I heard familiar names such as Plato, Buddha, Sartre, etc. during her talk.

What I got from her talk is that the Apocalypse or Judgment day is ultimately caused by our absolute freedom to make a choice. She used Sartre’s concept of the “inevitability of choice” to show that in key points of our lives and in our civilization as a whole, we will have to make decisions, and we must be ready to stand by the repercussions of these decisions. She used characters from Devil Survivor 2 to illustrate this inevitability of choice. She also claimed that these video games are like critiques of our contemporary society. That the actions we make as projected individuals in the RPG also reflect what choices we would probably make in real life.

I was actually quite impressed that our prof managed to incorporate different aspects into her discussion, and yet still tied it up neatly by relating it all to justice. Law, in a way limits our “absolute freedom” by curbing the possible choices we get to make. Does this mean that by pursuing justice through law, we are dooming ourselves to a life of inauthentic existence? No, I don’t think so.

The last speaker, Dr. Bolaños, used something called Critical Theory to assess justice in the perspective of the individual in the society. To be completely honest, I kept spacing out and did not understand much of his discussion because it was filled with technical terminologies that I did not quite understand. What I got from his talk was that norms in our society are the foundation of our laws, and therefore justice. I dare not go into much into detailing his topic because I really do not know much about it.

In conclusion, I think that Justice, much like Truth, is generally constructed; by us, the society, and the norms and cultures we live by. Justice also resists simplicity. It is impossible to look at it from just one point of view. It can be seen under many different perspectives, even Philosophical ones. We must understand what impact the different laws and the notion of justice have in our lives. Is justice just getting even with another person, or is it so much more? That I’m afraid is up to us to decide for ourselves

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