Fiat justicia, ruat coelum

I have been thinking hard since my late teens of what David Friedman explicitly wrote in his book “Law’s Order”. “Consequences are an important part of what we want. The doctrine fiat justicia, ruat coelum (let justice be done though the skies fall) is, in my experience, uniformly proclaimed by people who are confident that doing justice will not, in fact, bring down the sky.” I find it striking that despite my driving passion for justice, I have always looked suspiciously at libertarians who argue that the moral argument is the most compelling one. One thing in common with many of them is that they have no satisfactory theory of morality.

In the words of David Friedman: “Justice does not give an adequate account of law, both because it is irrelevant to a surprisingly large number of legal issues and because we have no adequate theory of what makes some rules just and some unjust.” I find most of the standard points of view in morality-specifically natural law, utilitarianism and argumentation ethics lacking in many important ways. When we argue on the lines of any of these, we sudden run into obvious difficulties.

One way to see through such moralists is to ask what they think of pacifism, land reforms, free immigration or anarchy. Many of them oppose at least one of these, and the reason could only be that they wrongly or rightly believe that the end result would be utter chaos. How is a retaliatory war justified when we take civilian deaths into account? How can one oppose free immigration when no one can rightly claim the right to force someone out of his country simply because he happened to be born there? Why is reparations to blacks on slavery morally unjustified? How can one swear by the Non-Aggression principle and still oppose anarchy on moral grounds?