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Justice For All

Atheists have our own ideas about what is just and what is unjust.  This group will explore the elusive concept of justice.  Topics include racial injustice, death penalty, imprisonment, crime, and other aspects of justice in modern society and in history.  Without gods, what is the basis for justice?  What do humanists and others say about justice?  What do you think about current controversies and cases regarding justice or injustice?

Members: 43
Latest Activity: Mar 11


Troy Davis's photo was chosen as this original icon for this group.  Davis symbolized inequality of justice in the US.  At the time of his execution, 9/21/11, the evidence supporting his conviction was flimsy.  There was known evidence supporting his innocence.  He was executed anyway. Since then the icon is changed to represent justice in general.


There are different nontheist points of view about justice, punishment, penalties, death penalty.   There is strong support for retribution and execution in the theist community (in the US).


What serves as "justice" is not distributed evenly across communities.  The most egregious injustice has strong racial overtones.  If you would like to read about, and discuss justice, what it is, who gets justice, and who doesn't, and stories relevant to this topic, please join and contribute to the discussions.


Resources  factsheet.  main page  executed possibly innocent

amnestyUSA death penalty information

death row population (CNN)  sept 2011.

innocence project.  The innocent and the death penalty.

innocence project Wikipedia discussion

California innocence project

Chicago innocence project

Georgia innocence project


Discussion Forum

On Burying the Torture Report

Started by Bertold Brautigan. Last reply by Daniel W Dec 9, 2014. 3 Replies

Black Panic

Started by Daniel W. Last reply by k.h. ky Sep 4, 2014. 7 Replies

Environmental Activist Hit Lists

Started by Ruth Anthony-Gardner. Last reply by Grinning Cat Jun 30, 2014. 2 Replies

Harsher sentences increase crime

Started by Ruth Anthony-Gardner. Last reply by Luara Jun 27, 2014. 4 Replies

Debtors Prison in the US

Started by Ruth Anthony-Gardner. Last reply by Ruth Anthony-Gardner Jun 12, 2014. 4 Replies

Coal Ash contaminated water jail coverup

Started by Ruth Anthony-Gardner May 26, 2014. 0 Replies

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Comment by Daniel W on April 21, 2012 at 1:02pm

I guess that's why I'm not a philosopher.  I spend a lot of time trying to convince people to do things they are not motivated to do - quit smoking, take their pills, eat better, be responsible, quit listening to woo woo.  If they don't have the ability to make choices, it seems even more futile.  But people do sometimes make changes.  Maybe we need an expression other than "free will."   I don't think there is  soul or that we are not part of nature, but we still make decisions.  We are not automatons.

Comment by annet on April 21, 2012 at 12:53pm

I know what  you mean Sentient, the notion of free will is pretty nebulous. But it seems to assume a human exceptionalism.  Like we can outsmart nature and are somehow separate from it.

We want to think our choices matter and that they are "ours" (aka a soul) rather than a product of our biology. 

It reminds me of Oliver Sachs and "the man who mistook his wife for a hat" .  

Comment by Daniel W on April 21, 2012 at 11:18am

AnneT, I too will never have curly hair (or any hair to speak of), be a dancer, or a lot of other things.  So it's true that there is an environment, physical/genetic/social/mental/financial/emotional that we all live in and decides many things for us.  But I can decide whether to be mean to someone, or whether to eat those french fries (especially the rosemary shoestring fries at Burgerville), or whether to go out with a gun and follow that guy with a hoodie in my neighborhood.  Or that animal that just killed my best chicken, but that's another story.  Honestly, I don't know what "free will" really is, but I do make decisions.  We can always say, "I made those decisions because of my inborn temperament, and how I was raised, and my nutrition, and my genome" and that's true, but a piece of that is that we are all human beings with thinking brains, and can still make choices within the constraints and opportunities of our existence.  That's where I think "free will" is an impossible concept, because even if everything has a cause outside us, we still have choices.


Oh yes, "You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars." and I also like the thought that we are all made of stardust, and one day will be stardust again.  Or compost.  I like that I might someday nourish a tree.

Comment by annet on April 21, 2012 at 10:34am

Funny you should say that Sentient, I've struggled to understand free will as described in naturalism.  I recently settled on a personal definition that uses roads as an analogy for evolution.  i.e.: If free will is all the roads any living thing can take, we are in reality limited to a few of those myriad roads due to biology and circumstance. Examples of these limitations:  I'll never be a dancer, have curly hair or understand the mind of a suicide bomber.  Along the road created for us by nature, we can turn left and right or go faster or slower, serve others, go to war, cure cancer, watch tv, or infinite other ways to vary the journey (choices), but we aren't going to be able to leave the road.  Our road choices are limited by nature.  Bottom line: Evolution is really in charge, not free will. 

This may not be the standard definition but it is how I understand it right now. 

I know this is atheist blasphemy because the word god appears in it but lately I get a sense of peace from the poem desiderata.  For me it is a sort of naturalist manifesto.

Comment by Daniel W on April 21, 2012 at 9:26am

Anne, for what it's worth, I have no idea what free will is or why it makes a difference in the real world.  We make choices every minute.  I'm not much of a philosopher. There are lots of things we can't choose.  But we also make decisions and have the ability to change directions.

Comment by annet on April 20, 2012 at 11:16pm

Sorry about that Sentient, had to share my righteous indignation. But thanks to pondering our lack of free will, I don't feel as bad about it as I used to.  Not having free will is really liberating.  lol.

Comment by Daniel W on April 19, 2012 at 6:55pm

Anne thank you for getting my blood pressure up!  Just goes to show, well, I don't know what it goes to show.  Being rich pays off, being poor does not.  A for the shoot first laws, they should all be repealed.  They are terrible.  Statistics should be kept.  2 homides a week in FLlorida where the killers go free?  Statistics need to be kept.  Not the least of which, they should include community, situation, and demographic / racial data.

Comment by annet on April 19, 2012 at 12:41pm


In just seven years since ALEC adopted the model ”Shoot First” law, ALEC members and the NRA have successfully worked to get laws passed around the country that encourage armed vigilantism. In more than 30 states, it is now legal to lethally shoot another person if you feel threatened, even if you could have safely walked away. No reliable statistics track how many people have been killed nationwide thanks to these laws, but in Florida alone, there are on average two homicides each week where the killers are likely to go free.

Comment by annet on April 18, 2012 at 10:07pm

Comment by MonkeyPhilosopher on April 14, 2012 at 12:39am

Sadly, its true. But, insanely this transformation is not to scare us. It's designed to ignite us. Is it diliberate? I can't say. But the process of the change in our Law enforcments pressence is called Deindividuation, Dehumanization. Goto to see these effects based in study, it's spooky crap. The black uniforms, the faceless drones. They seem to be trying to make us lash out so they can crack down more.


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