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Essay Topics on Justice

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Justice can be an incredibly tricky concept to unravel, yet it is at the center of a variety of philosophical debates. This lesson offers essay topics designed to help your students reflect on justice.

Writing About Justice

Are you interested in helping your students think conceptually about the ideas that form the center of our theoretical and social systems? One such concept is justice. Though the word justice is used with some frequency, particularly in referencing the criminal justice system or issues pertaining to social justice, the underlying concept is one that students rarely get the chance to address. Assigning your students essays about justice is one way to encourage them to develop their own ideas as well as to move in closer to historical ways that philosophers have addressed justice over time and across cultures. This lesson offers a series of topics that will help your students write nuanced and thoughtful essays about justice.

Justice and Philosophy

Many great thinkers in the history of philosophy have addressed the idea of justice and have raised really big questions that your students can work with. The topics in this section help your students analyze philosophical approaches to justice over time.

  • What were the three to five major questions or ideas Plato raised with regard to justice? As you name these ideas, use proof from his writings to showcase their importance. Reflect on why justice played such a central role in Plato's overall approach and philosophy.
  • Compare and contrast Plato and Aristotle's ideas about justice. Explain not only how they defined justice similarly and differently, but also how they presented their ideas about justice and the relevancy of their thinking about justice to the rest of their work and how it is read in today's context.
  • Write an essay analyzing overall approaches to justice in Eastern philosophy. Consider how Eastern philosophy's general outlook on justice might be different from that offered by the West as a whole, and analyze the implications of these differences for societies and cultures.
  • What, in your opinion as well as the opinion of major philosophers you admire, is the role of justice in determining morality, and what is the role of morality in determining what is just? Describe the relationship between morality and justice in as careful detail as you can, using examples to prove your point.
  • Describe a scenario from your own life or from current events that you think raises philosophical questions about the meaning and nature of justice. After you explain the situation, write about what questions it raises about justice. Describe your views on how particular philosophies of justice might come into play for people trying to make sense of or resolve the situation.
  • Do you believe that justice is subjective or objective? Drawing on a combination of circumstantial evidence and philosophical theory, explain exactly what leads you to have the belief that you do and how this belief impacts your way of living your own life.

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