Monday, January 17, 2011

Hazlitt on Justice

"...we recognize that Justice is not the ultimate ethical end, existing purely for its own sake, but is primarily a means, and even a means to a means. Justice and Freedom are the great means to the promotion of Social Cooperation, which in turn is the great means to the realization of each individual's ends and therefore to the realization of the ends of "society.""

"The subordination of Justice to a "mere" means, however important that means is regarded to be, may come as a shock to many moral philosophers, who have been accustomed to regard it as the supreme ethical end, at least in the social field. The extreme form of this view is epitomized in the famous phrase: fiat justitia, ruat caelum, or even fiat justitia, pereat mundus. Let justice be done though the heavens fall, let justice be done even if it destroys the world. Common sense draws back from any such frightful conclusion. But the answer to such slogans is not that we should be satisfied with a little less than Absolute Justice, in order to hold things together; the answer is that there is something wrong in the conception of justice embodied in such slogans. Justice was made for man, not man for justice."

Henry Hazlitt, The Foundations of Morality

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