Disagreements about Justice

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



This chapter focuses on disagreements about intuitions of justice. It first discusses how the use of ambiguous crime scenarios leads to disagreement, but only disagreement about the case facts and not about its relative blameworthiness. Also, the fact that some people prefer more harsh punishment generally, while others prefer more lenient punishment generally, tends to obscure the agreement between the two groups on the relative blameworthiness of different offenders. The chapter then presents two studies that demonstrate true disagreements. The studies suggest that the high level of agreement seen for a “core” of wrongdoing breaks down as the case facts moves out from the “core” to include more culturally dependent factors. And while many lay judgments about justice are intuitive, not all are. Especially as a case moves out from the core, reasoned judgments, engaging life experiences, and personal values come into play; and these, of course, can differ among people.


justice, intuitions, punishment, blameworthiness, crime, lay judgments

Publication Title

Intuitions of Justice and the Utility of Desert