Justice

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(from L. justitia). 1) Ethical value that regulates the spiritual and social life of the human being; the social virtue par excellence. It is the foundation of law, reason and equity. J. expresses the equality of persons before moral law. J. designates one of the four cardinal virtues that gives to each what is their, or the set of all the virtues that constitute the goodness of whoever possesses them. Since Aristotle, these distinctions have been made: commutative j., which regulates the equality or proportion that should exist between things when they are given or exchanged; distributive j., which establishes the proportion that should govern the distribution of rewards and punishments; legal j., which obliges the subject to obey the dispositions of their superior; and ordinary j. or common law, as opposed to special rights and privileges. The content of j. varies in different cultures and historical periods. Different interpretations of j. are made by different ethnic and religious social groups within the same society. Many values regarded as just by the barbarians (Celts, Germans and Slavs) were declared unjust by the Roman and Byzantine empires. Several values of ancient Rome were condemned as pagan by the Romans after they adopted Christianity. N.H. considers any act as just that allows human beings to realize their abilities in an integral way and to form their own personality, without harm to others. At the same time, it considers as unjust any action that annuls or restricts freedom of choice and other essential human rights. Any act that one wishes to carry out with others but that is done without respect for oneself is unjust. 2) A system formed historically by the juridical norms and institutions of a State or community of States. In this sense, the j. system defends the law. All legal activity is under the protection of the j. system. These juridical norms are mandatory in character and must be observed by all citizens under penalty of punishment for their infraction. In modern democracies, all citizens have equal political and social rights, but human beings vary in age, gender, health, physical and intellectual vigor, etc. Therefore, any reasonably just society tries to compensate these differences in regard to social obligations, exempting certain groups from some obligations (children, the disabled, the sick) and establishing retirement and benefit systems (for the sick, the elderly, the handicapped) and systems of unemployment insurance, training and retraining for those who have lost or never had access to certain job opportunities. N.H. pays special attention to these problems, stating its opposition to privileges of race, class, religion, etc., and in favor of consideration of individual differences, regarding the compensation of deficiencies as socially just. Given that j. as a system of state institutions frequently takes recourse to the use of violent methods, N.H. adopts a different attitude with respect to the different norms and decisions of the corresponding institutions. Thus, for example, humanists condemn capital punishment and demand its abolition. In social and ethnic conflicts, humanists express solidarity with the victims of oppression of all kinds and act in favor of freedom of conscience. 3) Judicial power, ministry or court that administers justice.