Explore BrainMass

Law Versus Justice (Business Ethics)

According to Oliver Wendell Holmes, "We practice law, not justice. There is no such thin as objective justice which is a subjective matter. A man might feel justified in stealing a loaf of bread to fill his belly; the baker might think it most just for the thief's hands to be cut off, as in Victor Hugo's Les Miserables.

According to William Lloyd Garrison, "That which is not just is not law."

According to Thomas Aquinas, "Where there is no consensus, there can be no law."

This is my last class in Business Ethics. I have done well. I did not have to ask a lot of questions during this session. Anyway, I have to write a paper about the above three quotes. I want to make certain that I understand their meaning.

Holmes believes that everyone must obey the law just because it is the law; therefore, if the law is unjust, everyone should obey the law anyway. Otherwise, there would be disorder in society. For example, for many years women were not allowed to vote. Even though this was discrimination, the law had to be obeyed.

Garrison's statement is somewhat complicated. Not everyone has the same idea of what justice is. Some may feel that stealing is just, while others would feel that it is unjust. Does this statement correlate in any way with Holmes' statement?

Aquinas' statement is also somewhat complicated. Using the example of no voting rights for women, we could conclude that this is how the women's rights came into existence. A concensus was reached that women should be able to vote, so the law was changed. Does Aquinas' statement correlate with the other two statements?

How are these statements related to each other? Do they contradict each other? Are they progressive? Does one start with one idea and then progress to the next level? Please advise. Thanks.