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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Law of Justice

During my senior year of high school, I studied some philosophies of government for a competitive civics program. As I studied, the social-contract theories in philosophy won my favor. I look to these theories and see much of the developed world stemming from these ideas. These theories are often quite simple to understand. There are usually three basic parts which create the over arching theory:
1.) Points where basic humans rights are explained. 2.) A "state" without a social agreement and issues which arise from it.3.) A "state" with a social agreement and the problems resolved with it.

For example, Thomas Hobbs being the "first" of the social contract theorists said

1.) people have the ability to do anything and everything, therefore they have a right to do anything and everything.
2.) without government, which is called the "State of Nature," people have rights to do anything and everything. As a result, life for everyone would be "nasty, brutish and short."
3.) people forfeit their rights to benefit themselves as a protection from others. The rules which the people consented to are enforced by a "Leviathan," or a monarch, who applies justice accordingly.

John Locke, in direct refute to Hobbs' remarks believed
The United States' Government is Lockean in principle.
(see The Declaration of Independence)
1.) people have the inalienable rights to "life, liberty, and estate."
2.) in the state of nature, people follow laws of courtesy called the "laws of nature." But there could be no justice when those original rights are violated.
3.) government is instituted by the people to maintain and magnify their original rights and to apply justice when one violates another's original rights.

Since the ideas expressed by these men, there have been a variety more expressed by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Joseph Pierre Prudhon, and others. The way I want to look at things is much more simple, and ought to be likened to a game.

1.) we have potential to be to be monopoly champions
2.) when we aren't playing the games, we are bored, dull, and seem to have no purpose.
3.) In order to play The Game, all players must consent to the rules. Winners will receive their title of champions.

If somebody doesn't consent to the rules of monopoly, they cannot play. It is as simple as that. They will not be given the opportunity to be champions of monopoly. The game of monopoly is a social contract with the parties involved. So, if the game has started, and it is a REALLY long game of monopoly, and the original parties involved have children and die, the children would be left playing monopoly. Is it morally just for them to keep playing something they did not agree to play? The logical action would be to invite someone to take your place who wasn't originally playing. This would give them the opportunity to accept, and have just judgement made on them. 

Similarly, if the social contract (Lockean or Hobbsian) has been established, and the parties involved have children, the children have been born into the agreement, but have not been given the opportunity to accept the social contract. Therefore, is it just to punish them for breaking an agreement they, themselves, did not agree to? Like the explanation with the game, the logical idea to remain morally just would be to invite someone into the social contract who wasn't previously under its protecting umbrella, but previously agreed to join. Elder Christofferson observed, "Justice is an essential attribute of God. We can have faith in God because He is perfectly trustworthy. The scriptures teach us that "God doth not walk in crooked paths, neither doth he turn to the right hand nor to the left, neither doth he vary from that which he hath said, therefore his paths are straight, and his course is one eternal round' (Doctrine and Covenants 3: 2) and that "God is no respecter of persons.' (Acts 10: 34) We rely on the divine quality of justice for faith, confidence, and hope." This idea of Justice has been a thought of philosophy for centuries. Philosophers such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle have shared much of their thoughts concerning justice. One of the most recent social-contract theories was introduced within the past century. In his Book, "A Theory of Justice," John Rawls explained that their could be no Justice, save we consented to the social contract. If there was no consent, there could be no justice.   
1.) people have an inherent right to justice
2.) in the "original state," people had equal knowledge, and experience and would agree on the same things (because they reasoned the same with equal knowledge).
3.) everyone on this planet had to agree on the same rules to "play the game." And here we are. (He said more, but I don't have the resources, time, or patience to explain more at this time.)
Elder Christofferson on this subject declared, "The gospel of Jesus Christ opens the path to what we may become. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and His grace, our failures to live the celestial law perfectly and consistently in mortality can be erased and we are enabled to develop a Christlike character." Just like our potential to monopoly champions, as Sons and Daughters of the Most High, we the the potential to be as Christ now is. "Justice demands, however, that none of this happen without our willing agreement and participation." Since God is perfectly just, we had to have had lived with Him prior to our being here, and He would have had to give us a choice to have this life. Elder Christofferson explained, "Our very presence on earth as physical beings is the consequence of a choice each of us made to participate in our Father's plan. (Revelations 12: 7-9; Doctrine and Covenants 29: 36-38; Moses 4: 3-4)" As a result of our choice, we had to consent to rules, or laws by which we would be governed. The law of justice, and the idea of eternal punishment indicate the existence of absolute truth. A world without absolute truth is a world without justice, to which we have an inherent right. A world without justice is a world with morals. A world without demands from "God who establishes moral laws to govern and perfect His Children is a world without ultimate truth or justice. It is a world where moral relativism reigns supreme," Elder Christofferson observed. "Relativism means each person is his or her own highest authority. Of course, it is not just those who deny God that subscribe to this philosophy. Some who believe in God still believe that they themselves, individually, decide what is right and wrong. One young adult expressed it this way: 'I don't think I could say that Hinduism is wrong or Catholicism is wrong or being Episcopalian is wrong--I think it just depends on what you believe… I don't think that there's a right and wrong.' Another, asked about the basis for his religious beliefs, replied, 'Myself--it really comes down to that. I mean, how could there be authority to what you believe?'"
If you shall say "there is no truth," you also say, "there is no moral law." As Lehi expressed, "If ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away." (2 Nephi 2: 13) Yet, Here remains all things; to act upon, and to act. There has been a creation of the earth and the heavens, and all things that in them are. Therefore, there is a God. Misery and punishment are unavoidable in life, and that means so is happiness and righteousness. If you have seen happiness and righteousness, you must say there is that which takes it away, even sin. And if sin exists, there is moral law. If there is moral law, then there is truth; and where there is truth, there lies justice also.
During my time on my mission, I have ran into many who have this morally relative philosophy. "It doesn't matter the denomination you are..." is a common saying, "just find what you like, and stick with it." Elder Christofferson said, "To those who believe anything or everything could be true, the declaration of objective, fixed, and universal truth feels like coercion--'I shouldn't be forced to believe something is true that I don't like.' But that does not change reality. Resenting the law of gravity won't keep a person from falling if he steps off a cliff. The same is true for eternal law and justice. Freedom comes not from resisting it but from applying it. That is fundamental to God's own power."

"As a consequence of being perfectly just, there are some things God cannot do," Elder Christofferson further explained. "He cannot be arbitrary in saving some and banishing others. He 'cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance' (Doctrine and Covenants 1: 31)... It is compelling evidence of His justice that God has forged the companion principle of mercy..."
"Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face."(Psalms 89: 14)

See also Free Forever, to Act for Themselves By Elder D. Todd Christofferson

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