11 March 2011

Justice Conference - Part 2 : : Nicholas Wolterstorff : : What Is Justice?

I ♡ Nicholas Wolterstorff!
From his wild white disheveled hair, to his sweater vests, to the hankie he pulled out to wipe his nose, his demeanor screamed "professor." The introduction built him up, I was hopeful that he would be good - but could I stay awake? It had been an awfully long day already and he was just starting his talk at 8:30pm. I didn't think anyone could be that good. I was wrong. I couldn't get enough, riveted, I scrambled to take notes that I hoped would make sense later.
You are welcome to read my notes, but you'll probably be better off just scrolling down and watching the man say it for himself.

Dr. Nicholas Wolterstorff - What Is Justice?
-Ulpian defines Justice as the rendering to each person what is his/her rights or dues.
-Justice reigns when people are able to enjoy their rights.
-A right is respect to someone. They are protective autonomy actions.
-Sociality belongs to the right to be treated a certain way - normative social relationships.
-Rights = worth, value, dignity of human beings; primarily we are loved by God and redeemingly loved by God. If you are deprived of your rights, you are being wronged.
-Rights talk, love talk, moral/duty talk - they all can be abused.

What if we tossed out the question of justice? Moral order has two dimensions - actor/receiver, giver/recipient, doer/done to. Talking in terms of right and wrong enables the person to talk about how they have been wronged - their moral conviction - enables the victim. If we only use obligation/duty language a wife could only say to her abusive husband "You are not living up to your moral duty." But with receiver language, the wife can also say, "I have been wrong."

The trumping force of rights is that I must, ought, treat you this way. Rights are a brake on paternalistic benevolence. 

And this is just what I was able to scribble down. Every word he said, every phrase, had weight. There was no fluff.  

Nicholas Wolterstorff :: What is Justice? from The Justice Conference on Vimeo.

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