The Two Faces of Justice

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  According to Jiwei Ci, The Two Faces of Justice (TFJ) is based on the following empirical observation: “if someone’s unjust acts were not refrained or punished, then others who desire justice would imitate those unjust persons’ to some extent, and the unjust acts would overrun the whole society” (1). I am sure that this observation is not at all uncommon, as David Hume also said that “the same happiness, raised by the social virtue of justice and its subdivisions, may be compared to the building of a vault, where each individual stone would, of itself, fall to the ground; nor is the whole fabric supported but by the mutual assistance and combination of its corresponding parts”(An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, ed. by Tom L. Beauchamp, Oxford University Press, 1998: 171). However, Hume, like most moral philosophers, didn’t further ask why each individual stone would of itself fall to the ground, and how those corresponding parts mutually assist and combine. Ci incisively emphasizes the theoretical importance behind those phenomena, and summarizes it as “the easy circulation of the unjust acts,” or in another words, “the fragility of the just acts”. Ci believes that a good start for us is to pursue the characters, especially the psychological ones, of justice.

  Ci argues that there are two faces of justice: on the one hand, as a rule of interest exchange, justice is conditional; on the other hand, as a moral imperative, it is unconditional. As far as we know, the central questions of modern theories of justice have much to do with the normative content of justice and its foundations. By contrast, Ci’s book is an attempt to study the so-called “just disposition” which is independent of any normative theories of justice, and therefore this book is perhaps the first systematic treatise on this subject. Although his focus is to offer a unique perspective on moral psychology, Ci has nevertheless immersed himself in the long line of Western moral traditions from Kant to the present, drawing on many useful theoretical resources such as Kant, Hume, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, John Rawls, Jürgen Habermas, Brian Barry, Allan Gibbard, etc., to construct his own theoretical model of justice.

  There are two aspects of “just disposition”: one is about substantive norms of justice, while the other is about its structural character. The former means “those conceptions about right and wrong, i.e., the so-called senses of justice, derived from the just norms which belong to the societies in which we live and always vary from time to time and place to place” (3). The latter refers to the structural character of justice that never changes with the changing norms of justice. Ci emphasizes that although the structural character is not a priori, it is shared by all just persons from different social-historical circumstances. In a narrow sense adopted by TFJ, just disposition refers only to the structural character not to substantive norms.

  Ci also places this just disposition in the narrow-sense on a par with “abstract” and “general” just disposition, and asserts that “just disposition has some general characteristics which are stable and transcendent of all particular social-historical circumstances” (4). Ci admits that this proposition is the first supposition of TFJ, the rationalization of which is open to criticism. The second supposition that props up TFJ is that “the explanatory theory of just disposition could be independent of the normative theories of justice”. If one agrees with these two suppositions, one may find cogent the following two main issues of TFJ: First, how can conditional aspects of justice coexist with its unconditional aspects? Second, as the product of integration of these two aspects of justice, what is the basic character of just disposition?

  Here are the two key concepts of TFJ: “reciprocity” and “socialization.” Through the concept of reciprocity, Ci purports to explain the motive of justice, or the reason that justice is conditional. The term “reciprocity,” according to Ci, indicates peoples’ conditional obedience to reasonable norms. It is the immanent character of just disposition, since reasonable norms would change while reciprocity itself would not. A dilemma that contemporary moral theories have to face is that, although we agree on the autonomous status of the basis of our moral reflection and action, we disagree profoundly on what that basis is: we can neither, like Kant, ground morality in our a priori practical reason without any regard to natural or empirical motives; nor can we, like Hume, ground morality in our affective rather than rational nature. Rawls insists that we need an “Archimedean point” from which to assess the structure of society; it seems that a similar thing can be said about just disposition. However, as Michael Sandel points out, the Humean starting point would be arbitrary because contingent, the Kantian one would be arbitrary because groundless (Liberalism and the Limits of Justice,(点击此处阅读下一页)

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