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Justice as “super utility”

The important rank, among human evils and wrongs, of the disappointment of expectation, is shown in the fact that it constitutes the principal criminality of two such highly immoral acts as a breach of friendship and a breach of promise. Few hurts which human beings can sustain are greater, and none wound more, than when that on which they habitually and with full assurance relied, fails them in the hour of need; and few wrongs are greater than this mere withholding of good; none excite more resentment, either in the person suffering, or in a sympathizing spectator. The principle, therefore, of giving to each what they deserve, that is, good for good as well as evil for evil, is not only included within the idea of justice as we have defined it, but is a proper object of that intensity of sentiment, which places the just, in human estimation, above the simply Expedient. [Utilitarianism, Chapter 5]

So then Justice is merely the raiment utility dons when it is extremely important to us that it be respected. Justice is a kind of “super utility,” able not just to muster rationality to its side as indeed all utility can and must, but do so with passion, something which cannot be said of most of the dessicated forms utility may take. Duty as having something to do with the ceremonial robes of the judge, deontology a byproduct of the courts.

Posted by luno in Utilitarianism, Mill, J. S., Moral Theory (Thursday January 20, 2005 at 9:45 pm)

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