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Is Morality a Matter of Taste?

5. Definitions and Use of 'Objective'

5.2 Historical Examples

Justitia at Court of Final Appeal, Hong Kong

Statue of Justitia (Lady Justice) at Court of Final Appeal, Hong Kong

A study of history affords us more examples of how the concept of 'impartiality' is central to ethics. In many religions, God is seen as the impartial judge. Consider the three Abrahamic religions as a case in point:

  1. Judaism (Ezek 18:30): 'Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, each according to his conduct,' declares the Lord GOD.
  2. Christianity (2 Cor 5:10): For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive his due for the things done in the body, whether good or bad.
  3. Islam (Quran 2:281): And be conscious of the Day on which you shall be brought back unto God, whereupon every human being shall be repaid in full for what he has earned, and none shall be wronged.

In these three religions, justice is about the nature of the deeds and not about who committed them.

Nearer to the modern era, the Roman goddess, Justitia (or Lady Justice), appears as the statue blindfolded with scales and a sword outside of many courthouses. Wikipedia summarizes well the significance of the blindfold:

Since the 15th century, Lady Justice has often been depicted wearing a blindfold. The blindfold represents objectivity, in that justice is or should be meted out objectively, without fear or favour, regardless of money, wealth, fame, power, or identity; blind justice and impartiality.

[Wikipedia, Lady Justice, 2016]

It's precisely in this sense that our laws are held to the ideal of being applied 'objectively'.

Copyright © 2017

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