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Is there really a Social contract? Many supreme court cases have upheld that the government is not liable to protect you. For example, if a police officer dawdles around while your house is burglarized, he isn't liable to you for not upholding his duty to protect you. How do we consent to government to govern us when it has a monopoly over our area?

In thinking about the existence of a social contract, or lack thereof, the first thing we need to do is separate questions about the possible terms of the contract from questions about its existence. You note that courts have denied that the members of the government can always be held liable to protect individuals; these rulings on their own, however, don’t give us reason to believe either for or against the existence of a social contract. For example, rather than suggesting the non-existence of a social contract, they could instead simply reflect the terms of the contract, and in particular, that absolute protection is not one of the terms. And this would be reasonable: we typically think that the terms of the contract should be limited, at the very least, by what is within each party’s capacities. Yet is not always within the government’s capacity to be both fully informed of possible threats and to be prepared to protect individuals from those threats. Your overall concern about the very...

My friend and I were discussing the nature of justice and we couldn't define it in a way that differentiates it from revenge. Both involve the idea of causing pain/suffering to the perpetrator of a crime since he/she has caused a certain amount of pain/suffering to a person or society. Is the only difference that justice is supposedly 'objective' in the sense that non-involved persons determine the amount of suffering the perpetrator should receive as opposed to the 'subjective' nature of revenge when the victim decides? This led us to wonder what is the opposite of justice/revenge and we thought it might be mercy, when you do not inflict suffering on the perpetrator. My friend pointed out that each Muslim prayer begins with "In the name of Allah, the most just and most merciful". Is it possible to be both just and merciful at the same time? Isn't there a contradiction there?

There are certainly deep connections between justice and revenge. J.S. Mill , in his Utilitarianism, suggests that the sentiment of justice is really just an extended desire for revenge. He argues that we all have a basic impulse for self-defense that directs us to seek revenge on those who harm us. Through a combination of our intellect and sympathy, we extend this desire for revenge to anyone who harms our community, and a sentiment of justice arises. Mill would probably agree with your analysis that justice is distinguished from revenge largely in that the sentiment of justice has an objective nature, while a desire for revenge has an inherently subjective character to it. Notice, though, that Mill is talking about the sentiment of justice, and not justice itself. We can separate the sentiment of justice from justice itself, which covers a sphere of actions, of which acts of retribution comprise just one part. With revenge, on the other hand, it is harder to separate the sentiment of revenge...