Scarce justice: The accuracy, scope, and depth of justice

The scarcity of resources required to produce justice is manifested in the relation between the accuracy, depth, and scope of materially possible forms of justice. Ceteris paribus , increases in the accuracy of justice must come at the expense of its depth and scope, and vice versa, though they are not linearly proportioned. The accuracy of justice is the degree of agreement between the possible results of attempts to implement a theory or principles of justice and the desired result according to that theory or those principles of justice. The scope of justice measures how broadly the principle or theory of justice is intended to apply. The depth of justice measures the gap between existing social norms and the theory or principles of justice we examine within the specified scope. This three-dimensional model explains public policies, laws, and regulations that increase the scope or depth of justice at the cost of a decrease in its accuracy – rough forms of justice such as measures of transitional justice, affirmative action, mandatory sentencing, simplified tax codes, collective guilt and victimhood, and general amnesties. The scarcity of resources necessary for justice can contract or expand. The normative choice between principles of justice that prefer accuracy and those that favor scope or depth usually corresponds, respectively, with rights-based deontological theories and consequentialist ethics
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DOI 10.1177/1470594X10387520
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