Ballou, thus, necessarily expands and explodes the idea of justice as well to accommodate a new divine judge. Deviating from the connotations of harsh retribution, wherein justice equates to fairness and mercy to deficient softness, Ballou enjoins the two. In so doing, he infuses justice with the virtues of forgiveness, reconciliation and compassion: “My opponent will say, the blessed are happified in consequence of the misery of the wretched. But what reason can be given for such an idea?” (Treatise, 141).
Thus, Ballou stands in a unique strand of thinkers ranging from the ancient Greeks (e.g. Aristotle’s ‘equity’) and later Seneca to Martha Nussbaum’s ‘equity tradition.’ Ballou, too, challenges us to redirect justice towards ‘moral outcomes’ and to understand human behavior as implicated in a complex narrative of effort in a world of obstacles.
Prophetically, he asks: “how would a judge appear who should manifest joy and gladness on pronouncing the sentence of death upon one of his fellow-men? Who would not turn from such a court with disgust and deep abhorrence?” (Treatise, 193)
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