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as society grows more complex; and they must be experienced in their many forms, generation after generation, before analysis can make clear the essential distinction between legitimate acts and illegitimate acts. The idea emerges and becomes definite in the course of the experiences that action may be carried up to a certain limit without causing resentment from others, but if carried beyond that limit produces resentment. Such experiences accumulate; and gradually, along with repugnance to the acts which bring reactive pains, there arises a conception of a limit to each kind of activity up to which there is freedom to act. But since the kinds of activity are many and become increasingly various with the development of social life, it is a long time before the general nature of the limit common to all cases can be conceived.*
A further reason for this slowness of development should be recognized. Ideas as well as sentiments must, on the average, be adjusted to the social state. Hence, as war has been frequent or habitual in nearly all societies, such ideas of justice as have existed have been perpetually confused by the conflicting requirements of internal amity and external enmity.
§ 22. Already it has been made clear that the idea of justice, or at least the human idea of justice, contains two elements. On the one hand, there is that positive element implied by each man's recognition of his claims to unimpeded activities and the benefits they bring. On the other hand, there is that negative element implied by the consciousness of limits which the presence of other men having like claims necessitates. Two opposite traits in these two components especially arrest the attention.
* The genesis of the idea of simple limits to simple actions is exhibited to us by intelligent animals, and serves to elucidate the process in the case of more complex actions and less obvious limits. I refer to the dogs of Constantinople, among which, if not between individuals yet between groups of individuals, there are tacit assertions of claims and penalties for invasions of claims. This well-known statement has been recently verified in a striking way in the work of Major E. C. Johnson, On the Track of the Crescent. He says (pp. 58-9) :-"One evening I was walking (in Constantinople) with an English officer of gendarmerie when a bitch came up and licked his hand.
She followed us a little way, and stopped short in the middle of the street. She wagged her tail, and looked wistfully after us, but never stirred when we called her. A few nights afterwards ... the same bitch ... recognized me and followed me to the boundary of her district.”
Inequality is the primordial ideal suggested. For if the principle is that each shall receive the benefits and evils due to his own nature and consequent conduct, then, since men differ in their powers, there must be differences in the results of their conduct. Unequal amounts of benefit are implied.
Mutual limitations to men's actions suggest a contrary idea. When it is seen that if each pursues his ends regardless of his neighbour's claims, quarrels must result, there arises the consciousness of bounds which must be set to the doings of each to avoid the quarrels. Experience shows that these bounds are on the average the same for all. And the thought of spheres of action bounded by one another, which hence results, involves the conception of equality.
Unbalanced appreciations of these two factors in human justice, lead to divergent moral and social theories, which we must now glance at.
§ 23. In some of the rudest men the appreciations are no higher than those which we see among inferior gregarious animals. Here the stronger takes what he pleases from the weaker without exciting general reprobation—as among the Dogribs; while, elsewhere, there is practised and tacitly approved something like communism -as among the Fuegians. But where habitual war bas developed political organization, the idea of inequality becomes predominant. If not among the conquered, who are made slaves, yet among the conquerors, who naturally
think of that which conduces to their interest as that which ought to be, there is fostered this element in the conception of justice which implies that superiority shall bave the benefits of superiority.
Though the Platonic dialogues may not be taken as measures of Greek belief, yet we may gather from them what beliefs were general. Glaucon, describing a current opinion, says :
“This, as they affirm, is the origin and nature of justice :—there is a mean or compromise between the best of all, which is to do and not to suffer injustice, and the worst of all, which is to suffer without the power of retaliation; and justice, being the mean between the two, is tolerated not as good, but as the lesser evil.” And immediately afterwards it is said that
are only diverted into the path of justice by the force of law."* In this significant passage several things are to be noted. There is first a recognition of the fact, above indicated, that at an early stage the practice of justice is initiated by the dread of retaliation, and the conviction, suggested by experience, that on the whole it is desirable to avoid aggression and to respect the limit which compromise implies: there is no thought of intrinsic flagitiousness in aggression, but only of its impolicy. Further, the limit to
, each man's actions, described as "a mean or compromise,” and respect for which is called “the path of justice,” is said to be established only " by the force of law.” Law is not considered as an expression of justice otherwise cognizable, but as itself the source of justice; and hence results the meaning of a preceding proposition, that it is just to obey the law. Thirdly, there is an implication that were it not for retaliation and legal penalties, the stronger might with propriety take advantage of the weaker. There is a half-expressed belief that superiority ought to have all the advantages which superiority can take : the idea of inequality occupies a prominent place, while the idea of equality makes no definite appearance.
What was the opinion of Plato, or rather of Socrates, on the matter is not very easy to find out. Greek ideas on
many matters had not yet reached the stage of definiteness, and throughout the dialogues the thinking is hazy. Justice, which is in some places exemplified by honesty, is elsewhere the equivalent of virtue at large, and then (to quote from Jowett's summary) is regarded as “universal order or well being, first in the State, and secondly in the individual." This last, which is the finished conclusion, implies established predominance of a ruling class and subjection of the rest. Justice consists “in each of the three classes doing the work of its own class : ” carpenter, shoemaker, or what not, “doing each his own business, and not another's;” and all obeying the class whose business it is to rule.* Thus the idea of justice is developed from the idea of inequality. Though there is some recognition of equality of positions and of claims among members of the same class, yet the regulations respecting community of wives &c. in the guardian-class, have for their avowed purpose to establish, even within that class, unequal privileges for the benefit of the superior.
That the notion of justice had this general character among the Greeks, is further shown by the fact that it recurs in Aristotle. In Chapter V. of his Politics, he concludes that the relation of master and slave is both advantageous and just.
But now observe that though in the Greek conception of * On another page there is furnished a typical example of Socratic reasoning. It is held to be a just“ principle that individuals are neither to take what is another's, nor to be deprived of what is their own.” From this it is inferred that justice consists in “having and doing what is a man's own; and then comes the further inference that it is unjust for one man to assume another's occupation, and “force his way” out of one class into another. Here, then, because a man's own property and his own occupation are both called his own, the same conclusion is drawn concerning both. Two fallacies are involved—the one that a man can
a trade in the same way that he owns a coat, and the other that because he may not be deprived of the coat he must be restricted to the trade. The Platonic dialogues are everywhere vitiated by fallacies of this kind, caused by confounding words with things—unity of name with unity of nature.
justice there predominates the idea of inequality, while the idea of equality is inconspicuous, the inequality refers, not to the natural achievement of greater rewards by greater merits, but to the artificial apportionment of greater rewards to greater merits. It is an inequality mainly established by authority. The gradations in the civil organization are of the same nature as those in the military organization. Regimentation pervades both; and the idea of justice is conformed to the traits of the social structure.
And this is the idea of justice proper to the militant type at large, as we are again shown throughout Europe in subsequent ages. It will suffice to point out that along with the different law-established positions and privileges of different ranks, there went gradations in the amounts paid in composition for crimes, according to the rank of the injured. And how completely the notion of justice was determined by the notion of rightly-existing inequalities, is shown by the condemnation of serfs who escaped into the towns, and were said to have "unjustly ” withdrawn them
” selves from the control of their lords.
Thus, as might be expected, we find that while the struggle for existence between societies is going on actively, recognition of the primary factor in justice which is common to life at large, human and sub-human, is very imperfectly qualified by recognition of the secondary factor. That which we may distinguish as the brute element in the conception is but little mitigated by the human element.
$ 24. All movements are rhythmical, and, among others, social movements, with their accompanying doctrines. After that conception of justice in which the idea of inequality unduly predominates, comes a conception in
a which the idea of equality unduly predominates.
A recent example of such reactions is furnished by the ethical theory of Bentham. As is shown by the following