The Idea of Justice and the Problem of Argument by Chiam Perelman

By Chiam Perelman

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Extra resources for The Idea of Justice and the Problem of Argument

Sample text

But someone who finds the system of family allowances fully justified may find it unjust that, for example, the fourth child gets an allowance ten times as big as that granted to the first child, whereas it is the increase in the household expenses due to the first child that is felt the most. -48It is at once obvious that this latter criticism is of quite another order than the first. Indeed, it takes its stand on the same ground as the person to whom it is addressed. It already grants a certain common platform in the necessity for family allowances to subsidise the needs of the household.

It is possible for the rule of justice to lay down precisely and incontrovertibly the treatment due to the members of an essential category only when it is a case of allocating something that is available in unlimited quantity. More often than not, this is not the case. Where it is not, the rule will have to limit itself to indicating treatment that will take in one or more indeterminate -36factors, the determination of which will depend on external circumstances. Thus it is that the criminal law to be administered by the judge can provide for the penalty to be imposed on, say, every housebreaker: years of imprisonment are normally always available.

In the case of formal justice we are content to compare the treatment meted out to the members of the same essential category, but we have no way of comparing the categories one with another. On the other hand, the criticism directed against a rule of concrete justice leads us to search for a basis of comparison between various essential categories so as to justify the difference in treatment as between those different categories by reference to the relation between each category and the genus on which it depends.

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