TREATISES
of
The Society of HumanKind

4

OF JUSTICE

Summary
This Treatise points out that a choice of the Objective of the Dogma does not end the need for means and systems to deal justly with misconduct. It also notes that we have no-one other than ourselves to make such judgements. It then shows that the Society considers justice is served when the outcome of our system of justice is to maintain the Conditions of the Dogma. That gives a good guide to just action provided we never forget the uncertainty of all human knowledge and therefore of all judgement.

The Principle 3.2 sets out an important implication of a choice of the Dogma as the purpose of our lives. The decision to pursue the Objective of the Dogma must imply assent to that degree of social order necessary to the infinite maintenance of its Conditions. Without stability and continuity in our society the achievement of the Objective of the Dogma cannot be assured. That conclusion provides a powerful incentive for adherents of the Society to live peaceful and orderly lives. However it does not follow that the Axiomatic age will have no need for a system to deal with breaches of the rules and conventions of social conduct. An agreement by individuals to live in an orderly society does not postulate an invariable willingness to obey all its rules in all circumstances.

That being so, the establishment of the Society of HumanKind will not remove the need for some means to judge the conduct and motives of individuals and groups, and to apply sanctions to inappropriate behaviour as necessary. The emergence of the Society will not signal an end to systems of judgement and sanction in human social life, nor the requirement that such systems should act with justice if they are to be accepted and tolerated by those to whom they are applied. This is an issue that has attracted much ingenious thought in the past. It is here examined afresh from the perspective created by the Axioms.

The message of the Axioms in this respect begins, as in many other cases, from the perspective that we are alone. In the era of the Society we must take full responsibility, not only for our decisions on questions of guilt or innocence when we try to do justice, but also for the definition of what we seek to achieve by those efforts, and for the means we adopt for that purpose. We must also solve these problems from within the compass of our limited human skills and capacities. In the era of the Society there is no other source from which our solutions can be derived, or by which they can be tested.

A search for sound judgement and justice that starts from the Axioms recognises that we can have no source for our choices and decisions other than ourselves. In this light justice is no more or any less than a concept created by humanity to meet our human needs and serve our purposes. In addition, those purposes are themselves solely a matter for humanity to decide, since there is nothing and no-one in our universe to make that choice for us, or to provide a measure against which our purposes can be tested. It follows from an acceptance of the Axioms that what constitutes justice, the purpose it is to serve, and the means by which it will be achieved, will always be open to the living generation to determine or alter. Those questions will need to be constantly reviewed and re-examined by every generation. Each will need to undertake that task afresh and in the unique circumstances of its own time.

That does not however, imply the extreme relativism some earlier thinkers on this subject have predicted. Justice as it is pursued in an Axiomatic age will not vary according to the chance of circumstances, or to the whim of judges. Rather the freedom of the Axioms will impose an obligation on each generation of humanity to take responsibility, not simply for the structure, rationality, impartiality or other characteristics of our system of justice, but more critically, for its outcome.

It is therefore choice of the Dogma as the purpose of our lives that shapes and forms the search for justice in the era of the Society of HumanKind, by providing an end toward which our systems of justice can be aimed and by which they can be judged. In the Axiomatic age inaugurated by the Society of HumanKind justice will not be achieved simply by selecting the right judges, or by choosing an appropriate set of rules and norms of social conduct, nor by merely applying reason and logic to the issue. The Society will consider justice to be done when the effect of the enforcement of whatever rules or norms we settle on, by whichever system of judgement and sanction we devise, is to preserve and reinforce that degree of order in our society that is the prerequisite for the maintenance of both of the Conditions of the Dogma.

Having gained that insight, the problem of justice facing the Society can be simplified. Members of the Society will recognise that the Conditions of the Dogma are not equal in importance. The pursuit of justice, as with any of our purposes, must pre-suppose our continued existence. Since neither justice, nor the continuous growth of human abilities, skills and knowledge required by the second Condition of the Dogma, can be achieved if our species becomes extinct, the fundamental principle is established that the pursuit of justice must always give priority to the survival of humanity, rather than any other consideration, including, it must be said, the needs or concerns of any individual, whether a victim, offender or whatever.

Adherents of the Society will therefore find justice to be served only where the outcome of the system conforms first to the Principle of Progress. That is, where it tends to create and maintain social conditions that will ensure our infinite survival. The consequence of this approach, and its greatest benefit, is that by its adoption the search for justice ceases to be an abstract or remote pursuit carried on by unworldly academics and involving only the privileged few. It becomes a practical activity of the whole of community of fallible human beings who, by their combined efforts, must seek to determine their own fate by the preservation of a stable social order.

The Society of HumanKind will therefore readily identify the purposes and priorities of this new defined system of justice. The primary purpose of any system of Axiomatic justice acceptable to the Society of HumanKind will be that it should directly contribute to the preservation of those conditions of social order that are vital to the infinite survival of the human species. The protection of that pre-eminent interest of humanity must override all other considerations. That definition of the priorities of justice must lead the Society to realise that no possible sanction or penalty can be presumed to be outside the range of those that might be applied to miscreants. Such penalties must therefore not exclude the death of a member of our species where no other alternative will meet the need. The careful reader will perhaps now recall that that conclusion is foreshadowed in the Principle 2.3.

From its Axioms, Dogma and Principles the Society will urge that any individual who cannot otherwise be prevented from embarking on actions or behaviour that threaten our survival, either directly or through the destruction of the social order on which our survival depends, must be removed from his opportunity if the achievement of the Objective of the Dogma, and thus the Aim of the Society, is to be pursued. In this matter the Society will not avoid the natural extension of that conclusion. Its adherence to its Principles can properly lead the Society to support the waging of war on those who, by wilful action or neglect, truly threaten the survival of our species and who cannot by any other means be prevented from doing so.

If it is accepted that the death of any single individual is justified in the ultimate defence of the primary Condition of the Dogma, then a war which results in the killing of many individuals for the same purpose must be equally just. To complete the discussion of these issues, the reader should note that the same arguments also allow for the possibility that suicide may be condoned by the Society. If that, or any other similar, extreme action is taken in order to protect, preserve or improve our chances of survival as a species, and it is judged to have had that effect, then the Society must regard it as not only justified but commendable.

There should be few occasions when the actions or conduct of any individual or group pose any real or substantial threat of the extinction of our species, or any fundamental challenge to that degree of social order which is essential to our long-term survival. Where our survival is not threatened, justice, as it is promoted by the Society, will then be best pursued by the maintenance of the second Condition of the Dogma, i.e. by an attempt to preserve and reinforce those social conditions that will allow for continuous growth in human abilities, skills and knowledge, and the fullest possible development of the attributes, capacities and qualities of every member of our species.

In considering these less vital matters, where our survival is not threatened, the Society will continue to apply the criterion of the outcome of the action or decision as its measure of justice, but will turn to the Principle of Peace for guidance. In these cases, the Society will consider judgement and sanction to be applied justly when the effect is to obtain the largest possible contribution to the progress of humanity from anyone judged to have breached the rules and norms of our social life. It will regard rehabilitation and restitution to have been achieved in these circumstances if transgressors are put in the position of having to make some compensatory contribution to the welfare and development of themselves and others, whether they will it or not. Restitution may involve no more that simple self-improvement if that would be conducive to that end. It should also be noted that, by such an approach to the application of sanctions, even an unjust or undeserved punishment will make some contribution to the purposes of justice, if only indirectly.

However, the reader should by now understand that the Society is equally bound to teach that retribution is not to be sought, nor exacted, in the mortal epoch of our species. The uncertainty of all human knowledge, and hence judgement, created by an acceptance of the Axioms and Dogma requires humankind to leave the search for retribution to that period of our history which will follow the achievement of its Aim. That consequence is more fully explored in the Treatise of Peace, although one point arising from that Treatise should properly be mentioned here. The restriction of the Treatise of Peace on the degree to which the Society can support the application of retributive punishment to offenders should not dismay adherents. To reserve retribution to our immortal era is no soft option for the treatment of miscreants. For what better definition of purgatory could there be than that offenders should have to share eternity with those on whom they have inflicted suffering or loss?

All that remains in this consideration of justice in the era of the Society is the question of the means by which just judgement may be reached during our mortal epoch. That enquiry must return to the conclusion reached in the Treatise of Knowledge about the unavoidable uncertainty of our understanding of anything in our universe. That fundamental uncertainty must apply to any exercise of merely human judgement. It has a special force in the consideration of any attempt we may make to introduce an element of justice into the process of weighing the conduct or motives of our fellow human beings, and applying sanctions to them.

The first thing to be said in that connection is that an acceptance of the likelihood of error cannot, of itself, be a reason to avoid such decisions. Rather, recognition of our inevitable fallibility must mean that we should arrange these matters so that the risk of error is reduced to its absolute minimum. The Society can best pursue that purpose by adopting an invariably critical attitude toward any proposed or existing system of justice. It should maintain a constant willingness to revise and improve our systems of judgement and sanction to bring them closer to its own definition of the ideal conditions for the achievement of justice. At the same time the Society must never allow itself to forget the ultimate uncertainty of all human judgement mentioned earlier in this Treatise. In particular, uncertainty must add great weight to the caution there urged on the application of any irreversible penalty, such as death, or permanent disadvantage or disablement.

In the era of the Society of HumanKind the search for justice will become indistinguishable from the search for knowledge. Both will be recognised as an infinitely perfectible activity in which absolute certainty can never be achieved. For adherents of the Society the prime purpose of any system of justice must be to reveal all that can be discovered concerning the issue, incident or behaviour under examination. Only when that process has been exhausted to the limit of human skill should we then proceed to the question of what action (if any) need be taken to bring about a just outcome. To that endeavour the widest possible range of skills and abilities should be applied. The process should also involve as many of those who are likely to be affected by the decision to be made as is possible. In any event, the judges who preside over this process should be selected from amongst the wisest and most virtuous of their generation.

Having made those preparations we should then make every possible effort to bring all the elements of justice together. We should ensure that all the facts and circumstances which have been discovered are made available to those required to make the judgement. That may seem at first sight to be a mild and indeed even vacuous prescription for the reform of our systems of justice. It would, in fact, represent a fundamental shift away from many of our present methods of applying judgement and sanction. Present attempts to do justice are far too much focused on the form of the processes by which we reach such decisions, and too little concerned about their outcome in terms of their effect on our social organisation. As has already been said, in the era of the Society of HumanKind it is not the procedures or processes of the system that are significant. It is not even its structures or rules. It is its effect.

The Society will therefore require that our judicial procedures should abandon their present search for a perfect process or an ideal approach, together with any demand for rigid conformity to some transcendental authority, absurdities which the Axioms reveal to be the result for a false view of the possibility of either a perfectible humanity or of perfect human systems. Equally, the Society will never allow itself or its adherents the indulgence of thinking that any system of justice is, of itself, sufficient to guarantee that we act justly. Nor that any of our merely human laws or judgements is so well constructed as to be above criticism or beyond review no matter how well precedented, strongly supported or certain they may appear to be. In the era of the Society, the search for justice will be endless.

The overall prognosis of this Treatise can be shortly stated. It is that, following its foundation, the Society will be obliged by its Duty to take upon itself responsibility for introducing the principle of uncertainty into what hitherto has been perhaps, the most esoteric, closely guarded, and pedantic of our social institutions.


Index (no frames) top Society homepage

©Lawrence Thornton Roach
2000-2005 AD