Freedom occurs when people are given an opportunity to do what they want without any interference or influence. Generally, a society enhances freedom by providing opportunities that people desire for action and enjoyment. On the other hand, justice entails a commitment to respect equality claim of each individual that leads to happiness. It is evident that freedom and justice are mutually exclusive, as “the theory of justice signifies its implications in regards to freedom as a key ingredient to happiness” (Rawls, 2009). Mills theory appeals to considerations of justice to mark off the rightful domain of individual liberty regarding individual freedom. In light of this view, the goal of extending freedom to all members of the society is integrally linked to achieving social justice (Baum, 2010). In this paper, the discussion will be on how freedom and justice are mutually exclusive when it comes to social values.
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In the past, colonialists used freedom as a tool of enslaving African Americans who later gained their freedom through social justice. The use of freedom as a tool to inhibit empowerment in individuals has been found to impact justice. For many years, racial discrimination was defined as a way of living, especially in schools, restaurants and social places, which were reserved for the whites; white-collar jobs were also mainly reserved for the whites (Loewy, 2009).
Many African Americans looked for manual labor where they were gardeners and maids in households all over America. Interracial marriages were highly unpopular and many who engaged in them were discriminated. However, freedom came when justice was served as Martin Luther King fought for equality on both sides, marking the end of racial discrimination, although racial discrimination is still experienced in some places today.
Justice presupposes that individuals are responsible, in some sense, for their actions. It tends to reward and punish in regards to good or bad behavior, contributions and harm brought in the society. In relation to this, when a person commits a crime that affects the society, the freedom he or she holds may be removed from him or her through a jail term. This relates to lack of social values on a personal level and using their freedom negatively; in this case, justice is used to bring order in a society. Moreover, if freedom is not limited, it can lead to social crimes, thus calling for justice to work towards instilling order (Johnson & Svara, 2011).
According to Kant’s theory of justice, positive freedom is the ability of pure reason to be practical. Kant believes that if human beings did not have negative freedom, there could be no duty to obey moral law, which requires us to subordinate our sensible impulse to the demand of duty (Rosen, 2009). An example is the constitution, which enacts different civil and political rights of a country; if broken, these laws may lead to a distortion in moral duty. The need for a constitution provides law and order, and with it comes the freedom to choose whether to follow it or not. Citizens who break the constitution are judged through the same constitution; but in order for justice to prevail, freedom must be limited within the law (Neville, 2009).
The law provides for freedom of religion and it respects all individuals regardless of their own faith. Nevertheless, the same law allows pure intentions to avoid breaking the law through one’s religion. In recent times, there have been terror threats around the world where Muslim extremists have threatened peaceful coexistence (Andrain & Smith, 2007). According to Andrain and Smith, religious freedom is not free from justice; in this case, if a person performs an atrocity against the country in regards to belief and religious freedom, the same freedom can lead to execution through the justice system.
At times, freedom and justice tend to pull from different directions; for instance, those who are working and would like to accumulate wealth would rather have freedom instead of justice. They feel they need to control everything they own rather than allowing others to enjoy their sweat through justice. However, those who are disadvantaged in one way or another would rather have justice instead of freedom, as they feel that those who are advantaged may exploit them if granted freedom. This kind of extremity or exclusivity in terms of freedom and justice tends to create social breakdown, where everyone tries to push for own selfish interests. The ideal situation would therefore be to create a compromise or balance between freedom and justice such that everyone sacrifices some freedom in order to serve justice for the well-being of the whole society.
Equality before the law promotes freedom, but leads to material inequality. When the state, through its laws, intervenes to create material equality, it consequently leads to a corresponding loss of freedom. Equality in constitutional sense means that, people who are similarly situated must be treated equally unless there are justifiable reasons to the contrary (Rabe, 2009). An example of inequality is racial discrimination of African Americans who fought for equality in order to be free.
During this time, they were treated in whichever way the whites pleased, as no law protected them. The law of equality has been regarded as a just way of ensuring citizens are treated in specific ways that promote freedom and not slavery. In this concept, freedom and justice are mutually exclusive as they work together to bring order through social values (Sanderson & Pugliese, 2012).
The balance of freedom and justice in the society provides a more enhanced look at how these values affect our lives. Existence of freedom relates more to having a just society where equal measure is achieved and a place where law and order is achieved to enhance peace. The two variables exist together to provide a worthwhile environment in relation to people’s rights and freedoms. In discussing these two variables, it is important to know how extensively freedom and justice work to improve relationship of different situations in different ways. Freedom and justice can therefore be termed as mutually exclusive in regards to situational factors that permit both sides to work together.
In conclusion, freedom and justice are mutually exclusive as they work together to bring order in the society. Freedom relates closely with justice and becomes a social norm that destroys the society if not used well. We need to respect the freedom of others by justly judging them with no favor or bias. Consequently, the position of freedom in key areas such as race, equality, and religion in relation to good judgment is to enhance social freedom. In order for society to achieve total freedom, justice must prevail as a means of providing social order (Arriaga, 2006).
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Baum, B. D. (2010). Rereading Power and Freedom in J.S. Mill. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press. Web.
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