Thursday, August 19, 2010

Musings on the Place of Justice in the Spontaneous Orders

The purpose of an economy is to produce goods people want -- the result of which is to improve people's material conditions. This is based on individuals' subjective values. No system of justice can be based on subjective values. What, then, does justice have to do with economics?

If justice cannot be based on subjective values, does that mean it is based on objective values? What can we mean by "objective" here? Or is there a third option?

A work of art, literature, etc. may represent people acting virtously or unvirtuously, but that does not make the work itself virtuous or unvirtuous. One can make ethical judgments of the characters (including the narrator in a work of literature), but not of the work itself. Only aesthetic judgments apply.

Justice must be moral, but not all actions judged immoral are unjust. This implies that justice emerges out of the moral order, but is not the same as the moral order.

This implies that each kind of spontaneous order -- economic, artistic, scientific, moral, etc. -- has its own criteria of judgment that is separate from issues of justice. When is justice ever applicable to any of these spontaneous social orders? Perhaps only when the participants of the orders do something within those orders that are truly dysfunctional, that expel them from the order -- thus throwing them into the legal order.

However, please note that there is little one can justifiably point to in the artistic order that would result in your being thrown out of the order and into the justice order. The same is true of science -- falsifying data doesn't get you in legal trouble (most of the time), but it does get you ejected from the scientific order. If justice in the legal sense makes little sense in these orders, why does it make sense for any of the other orders? The economy, for example?
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