Re: justice and freedom

Hemant Desai (
Sat, 25 May 1996 09:13:03 -0500 (CDT)

Devi wrote in response to Bill Ramsay and my earlier post:

> > I rest my case, and my brain, for now and welcome your comments.
> my brain too is tired and I'm not sure that flogging it into action right
> now would do more than weave minor variations on a theme with respect to
> which I'm in any case uncertain of my position: beyond a gut feeling that
> it ain't as easy as the begetter of this thread, Hemant Desai, originally
> indicated.
> I guess I started with the thought that one's construing can be unsubtle
> when survival is at stake and one's bereft of the luxury of living in the
> relatively stable, predictable, and secure environment which we associate
> with a more-or-less * free and just society; and I went on to quote an
> example in which, even in this sort of extremis, certain actions are felt
> to be "beyond the pale". My Mum and your Dad would seem to _behave_ in a
> similar way across that divide, but, pace your comment,
> >It's less to do with 'justice' as a concept and more to do with anticipating
> >>outcomes and construing them
> she certainly _construed_ it as a matter of "what is a just act", and
> seemed very concerned about justice, as she told me the story some 20 years
> after the events she described.
> * I said "more-or-less": these things are relative!

Dear Devi and others:

Let me respond to the posts on social constructs of justice and freedom
again; perhaps I didn't make my points clear enough earlier so here goes:

1) Justice and freedom are effective in a way that is limited
to one's position in the social scheme of things. For example: the
more powerful one is economically, the more legal assistance one can
buy. So, in this, "truth" is relative to abilty to show "proof" in courts
of law and depends to a large extent on whether one can obtain testimony
from experts such as psychologists, physicians, consultants, and so forth.

2) From a Kellian perspective, Justice and Freedom would make sense
only if they are seen as anchored on the often submerged constructs of
Equality and Responsibility, respectively. This goes back to my recent
suggestion for adding Compassion and Understanding as a supplement to
the J & F ideas.

3) From a cognitive-developmental perspective (e.g. Kohlberg's
Kant/Rawls influenced research), justice as THE superordinate metaphor
for morality is inherently limited without taking into account social
inequalities and prosocial behavior, among other things. I believe
either Bob Parks or Mike Mascolo mentioned the Kohlberg-Gilligan debate
recently--I'll gladly supply more information on this issue if someone
else here is also interested in moral developmental research.

One final note: Some of the issues we have been discussing such as
justice, freedom, gender roles, etc., are undoubtedly CORE SOCIAL
constructs [ in that they are shared as meaningful ideals by people and
are imported by individuals through language and socialization ].

Further, these Core Social Constructs arouse strong emotions if
challenged because they impact the arrangements we have given to our
lives in so many ways. IMHO, this is where Kelly's theory needs
to be updated: All constructs are not invented or discovered by
individuals, many constructs become internalized and thus meaningful
because of the direct social benefits AND constraints put around us.

Anyway, given that psychologically important factors such as
social class, race and gender inequalities and their effect on the
individual are being discussed on this list, I feel that some sort of
congratulations are in order to all concerned.

Thanks a lot for your time...