Wednesday, January 02, 2008


In my post, Learning Ethics in the Classroom, I mentioned justice as a guideline in making decision when confronting a dilemma. Now I will elaborate on the concept of Justice. This post is based largely on my lecture notes.

According to ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle, there are two distinct forms of justice – universal justice and particular justice. Universal justice deals with obeying laws and the relation of virtues to others. Particular justice can be further subdivided into following categories:

  • Distributive justice – distribution of benefits and burdens
  • Compensatory justice – compensating persons for wrongs done on them
  • Retributive justice – punishment of wrongdoers

How are benefits distributed? Some recommended principles are:

  • To each an equal share
  • To each according to individual needs
  • To each according to personal efforts
  • To each according to social contribution
  • To each according to merit

It is worth noting that when it comes to wealth distribution, Malaysian government’s policies are based on the principle of equal share, while Singapore government emphasizes merit of individuals. Neither approach is perfect. This splitting view was essentially the factor that caused the ouster of Singapore from Malaysia in 1965.


  1. Maybe in singapore yes, I do not think in malaysia yes.

  2. keeyit,
    Singapore's system is not perfect, but Malaysia's is worse...