The Third Side: Types of Justice

Types of Justice

Arbiters work to uphold justice and enforce principles of fairness, but justice can be defined in many ways. Alternative forms of justice are:

  • Distributive justice, which is concerned with giving all members of society a "fair share" of the benefits and resources available. Arbiters can play a key role in making sure that resources are allocated fairly.
  • Procedural justice, which is concerned with making and implementing decisions according to fair processes that ensure "fair treatment." Arbiters should make sure that their decision-making criteria are unbiased, and are applied in a consistent and reliable way. This makes it easier for parties to accept the arbiter's solution, even if it is one that rules against them.
  • Retributive justice, which is grounded in the notions of merit and dessert. The central idea is that the offender has gained unfair advantages through his or her behavior, and that punishment will set this imbalance straight. Arbiters often play an important role in reinforcing rules that have been broken, and balancing the scales of justice.
  • Restorative justice, which seeks to heal crime victims' wounds, restore offenders to law-abiding lives, and repair harm done to interpersonal relationships and the community. Arbiters at the community level often play a role in determining the active steps that offenders should take to make reparations to their victims.

For More Information


Much of the material on this user guide is drawn from www.thirdside.org. Thanks to William Ury and Joshua Weiss for giving us permission to republish their material here.