Source: (2001) In Human rights in philosophy and practice, ed. Burton M. Leiser and Tom D. Campbell, 41-61. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Co.

In this essay, John Humbach observes that most people associate justice primarily with rights. Humbach, however, distinguishes between a justice of rights and a justice of right relationships. The justice of rights is a justice of personal entitlements as the fundamental moral objects in view. In contrast, the justice of right relationships is a relational justice-a justice of human relationships as the fundamental moral objects. The justice of rights is grounded in rules about entitlements, whereas the justice of right relationships is grounded in the human attachments and connections people form in the course of daily life. He then applies his arguments to the sphere of criminal justice. The justice of rights approach is manifestly dominant in criminal justice, he states, which leads to law as rectification – a backward looking view that seeks to restore the balance of justice or entitlements. In contrast, a right relationships approach to justice leads to different perspectives, responses, and goals in criminal justice. In this view, the purpose of law is modification of human behavior, a forward looking view that seeks to prevent or minimize social harms, thus establishing and preserving relationships and habits of relationship. Humbach concludes with a discussion of what can be done to move from a justice of rights to a justice of right relationships.


Read Full Article