Every society wrestles with the nature of justice, punishment, fairness, and order. The iconic image of a blindfolded woman wielding a set of scales – or sometimes a sword – has endured as a symbol around the world. Beyond a symbol, what is justice? This article covers the three main types of justice, what the earliest justice systems looked like, and the famous philosophers who developed theories of justice.
Justice refers to concepts of fairness, equality, moral behavior, lawfulness, and order. It seeks to answer questions like “What are people owed?” and “What makes a punishment just?” Everyone from philosophers to policymakers to humanitarians is interested in what justice means.