Original Research - Special Collection: Law and Justice Conference

Justice: An elusive concept

Rik Torfs
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 54, No 1 | a2612 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v54i1.2612 | © 2020 Rik Torfs | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 March 2020 | Published: 21 December 2020

About the author(s)

Rik Torfs, Faculty of Canon Law, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium


This article ventures to seek different approaches to the notion of ‘justice’. It discusses John Rawls’ interpretation of justice and concludes that, even within his famous definition, the notion of justice is not defined and merely raises further questions. Even in famous theories, such as those of Rawls, eventual value judgements about ‘justice’ cannot be avoided. Here, the approach of Celsus is preferred. His approach is also open to value judgements but does not pretend otherwise. This approach acknowledges that law is an art and does not pretend to have the ability to find a final definition of ‘justice’. Within the more anthropological approach to law provided by Celsus, taking into account the context of culture and what its people perceive to be just, five points, of what Western Europeans perceive to be just are discussed – namely – group rights, feelings, history, limited solidarity and the exception.


Justice; Right; History; Solidarity; Lega exception


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