Equal Opportunity in a Just Society, Questionnaire Example

Yes, as there should always be equal opportunity in any just society, regardless of the circumstances taking place in that society. For all persons, regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity, gender, level of education, and sexual orientation, equal opportunity should be provided for all. This concept is critical because it shapes the direction of a successful society whereby individuals have the opportunity to go after what they seek and to achieve their goals and objectives without political or social interference. This is critical to the success and longevity of any society and unfortunately, is not the case in many societies where rights and opportunities for all persons are not equal. This is an achievable ideal because it represents a challenge to the status quo to refrain from stereotypes and other preconceived notions regarding members of society and to accept all persons as equals to each other, thereby providing all persons with the same level playing field and opportunities for growth.

John Stuart Mill’s approach to utilitarianism represents his moral belief system and supports the notion that consequences are a natural response to the decisions that all individuals make within their lives (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). In this context, an individual’s self-interest is often in serious contrast with moral perspectives, thereby creating a quandary that is difficult to overcome (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). Mill’s approach demonstrates that emotions and feelings are integral parts of this conflict and support the belief that feeling positive about a decision is far superior to feeling bad, even if there are negative moral consequences to the good feeling (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). In this context, there is also a desire to feel good about a decision and to make it better for oneself and for others, even if the good choice is not always the most ideal (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).

Psychology as a “perfect” science

            John Stuart Mill’s approach to psychology as a “perfect” science is perhaps difficult to accept as an outsider because it is almost impossible to predict individual behaviors and how each and every individual will react in a specific circumstance. If a prediction is made and the person knows of the prediction before the action is taken, it is still very possible that he or she will not act in the expected manner and will instead take a different route or approach. From a practical point of view, it is very difficult to accept predictions because human actions are not an exact science in any form and should be construed as such. Rather, they represent what one or more persons might think will happen but will not actually happen. All persons have the free will to make their own decisions; therefore, any actions that are taken will not necessarily satisfy the predictions that have been made. Furthermore, predicting an action or circumstance and not realizing the same action or circumstance when it occurs is part of human nature and is very difficult to predict, no matter the science or the tools that are available. Therefore, if the prediction is known ahead of time, it may be easier to disprove the accuracy of the prediction because the intent of the individual may change and he or she will take a different route, thereby leading to a different action or set of actions. Mill’s argument is flawed to some degree because it compares psychology to astronomy, and the two are quite unique and distinct from each other (Mill 5). However, the philosopher’s approach to this argument is realistic in the following context: “even if our science of human nature were theoretically perfect, that is if we could calculate any character as we can calculate the orbit of any planet, from given data; still, as the data are never all given, nor ever precisely alike in different cases, we could neither make positive predictions, nor lay down universal propositions” (Mill 5-6). This is an important perspective because it lends a level of credibility to the belief that psychology is indeed imperfect and flawed (Mill 6).

Problems facing the American family today and how these issues influence delinquency in children

American families face significant problems in today’s society for a variety of reasons, including broken relationships, social status, economic circumstances, health, education, lack of opportunities, and violent acts, amongst others. Each of these issues may impact families in different ways and may lead to further degradation of an already existing family unit. Therefore, it is necessary to develop an effective understanding of how these elements contribute to delinquent circumstances for children in a modern context. For example, Wasserman et.al from the U.S. Department of Justice note that “early on in a child’s life, the most important risks stem from individual factors (e.g., birth complications, hyperactivity, sensation seeking, temperamental difficulties) and family factors (e.g., parental antisocial or criminal behavior, substance abuse, and poor child-rearing practices)” (2). With these circumstances in mind, the source of many problems for children occur early on in their childhood years and are exacerbated by a number of different circumstances within the family unit (Wasserman et.al 2). Furthermore, it should be considered that life-changing events such as a divorce of the loss of a family member may be strong contributing factors to the overall decline of children in these situations (Wasserman et.al 2).

Many research-based studies and reviews have been conducted regarding the influence of family dynamics on child delinquency. A study by Schroeder et.al considers the family transition process and its impact on the delinquency and determines that a combination of factors contribute to delinquency under these circumstances: “family formation through marriage or cohabitation is associated with simultaneous increases in offending. Changes in family time and parental attachment account for a portion of the family formation effect on delinquency, and prior parental attachment and juvenile offending significantly condition the effect of family formation on offending” (579). This study is relevant because it demonstrates that any change to the family unit, whether it is a divorce, death, or even a remarriage or the blending of two separate families into one, may have a negative impact on children and may increase their risk of delinquency (Schroeder et.al 579). This study is also relevant because it contributes to the arguments regarding changes to the family unit in any form and their impact on child behaviors because many parents might believe that a combined family or a remarriage will have a positive impact on the family unit, but these efforts are not simplistic and are based upon a wide variety of factors that may lead to detrimental consequences for families (Schroeder et.al 579). As a result, it is important to consider how any type of disruption or change to the family unit may lead to difficult and consequential issues for children. With these considerations in mind, the family unit should be explored more closely as a means of determining the behaviors that are likely to negatively impact children and families because of the different obstacles that they face when there is any type of change, such as divorce, death, or remarriage. Children who face a greater risk of delinquency must also be considered in the context of their age, because children may be more likely to become delinquent as a result of their family issues when they occur at a younger age, rather than when they are older (Schroeder et.al 579).

Judicial Restraint Versus Judicial Activism

The concept of judicial restraint represents a challenge to many legal experts in the context of power and personal choice. As a judge, these individuals have the power and the authority to make decisions on behalf of the court and justice systems that are based upon the facts of the case and that represent an opportunity to uphold the law as best as possible. However, some judges take their power too seriously and wreak havoc on some of the lives of those who enter the courtroom or in private proceedings.  In a stricter sense, this term denotes that “judges have no popular mandate to act as policy makers and should defer to the decisions of the elected “political” branches of the Federal government and of the states in matters of policy making so long as these policymakers stay within the limits of their powers as defined by the US Constitution and the constitutions of the several states” (Johnson). Therefore, it is important to allow judges to perform their duties but to also recognize that they should not be given the opportunity to get away with making their own laws or policies if they have a bias towards one or more individuals. On the contrary, judges are responsible for upholding the law and making sure that the rules are not broken and if they are, that justice is served. However, too many judges in many cases have been made examples of by demonstrating bias towards plaintiffs and/or defendants and by not reviewing cases properly and with the appropriate balance of legal authority and preference for the law over personal opinion. This is a problematic circumstance and has become increasingly challenging in many cases.

Judicial activism, on the other hand, is defined by Johnson in the following context: “The view that the Supreme Court justices (and even other lower-ranking judges as well) can and should creatively (re)interpret the texts of the Constitution and the laws in order to serve the judges’ own considered estimates of the vital needs of contemporary society when the elected “political” branches of the Federal government and/or the various state governments seem to them to be failing to meet these needs…judges should not hesitate to go beyond their traditional role as interpreters of the Constitution and laws given to them by others in order to assume a role as independent policy makers or independent “trustees” on behalf of society.” This is an important point of view because it represents a challenge to judges at the highest levels to view current social issues and to determine if societal issues and trends should be evaluated in the context of promoting reinterpretations of the constitution (Johnson). This is a critical and very timely issue in today’s society because there are many issues that are on the minds of many Americans that did not exist in the same fashion centuries ago when the constitution was created. Therefore, the centuries-old document did not consider the future of the United States and the types of change that would occur. Therefore, concepts such as the right to bear arms had a much different meaning than in a modern context. It is important to allow judges to interpret the constitution to the degree that it is applicable to modern circumstances because these ideas have shifted for good and will not revert back to centuries-old ideals, in spite of what some members of Congress and other government bodies might believe. It is the responsibility of Supreme Court justices to determine if the constitution should be reinterpreted to meet the needs of current events and issues, and whether or not these issues apply under constitutional regulations. These efforts are important because they signify the ability of the justices to at least consider current events, issues, and precedents and whether or not they are constitutional in nature and whether or not there is room for interpretation in this manner.

Development of Lawyers in the Cravath System from law school interns to partners/billable hours

The Cravath System was developed by Paul Cravath early on in the 20th Century as a means of establishing a successful law firm infrastructure (Cravath, Swaine & Moore). The law firm was in need of a well-defined structure and approach to managing large client bases so that caseloads and other factors could be effectively managed in the desired framework. Cravath’s philosophical perspective was based upon the ability to promote from within and to train lawyers to achieve higher positions within their firms upon experience and professional growth (Cravath, Swaine & Moore). The mission of the Cravath System is as follows: “Our Firm’s unique position in the legal profession is built on our distinctive system of developing outstanding law students into outstanding lawyers. Our rotation system provides the broad experience needed to develop sound legal and business judgment” (Cravath, Swaine & Moore). Therefore, law firms throughout the United States adapted the Cravath System as a means of developing knowledgeable and experienced lawyers from the ground up in order to achieve the expected outcomes of the firm and its clients. This was the basis for the model and continues to be largely utilized throughout modern law firms.

The concept of billable hours was also introduced as a means of promoting accountability and requiring clients to pay for the services that were provided by attorneys on an hourly basis, thereby taking away the concept of free time spent on cases. This was a positive and useful step used by law firms for many years; however, in recent years, economic conditions and other events have reduced the effectiveness of the billable hour model (Press). One of the partners at Cravath, Swaine & Moore would also prefer a different system, noted as follows: “Chesler says that he would prefer a system where a lawyer and client assess the value of the job, agree on a price, review progress quarterly, and have a success fee for a victory or a favorable settlement” (Press). Under these conditions, it is likely that the billable hour structure is no longer an effective means of working with clients and receiving monetary compensation for these services, particularly since these fees are typically very high and require clients to spend big bucks on services that may or may not be effective over time (Press). Therefore, it may be necessary to make changes to this model to accommodate current trends and progress in the legal system that continue to take place in the 21st Century (Press).

Works Cited

Cravath, Swaine & Moore. “The Cravath System.” 31 March 2013: http://www.cravath.com/cravathsystem/

Johnson, P.M. “Judicial activism.” 31 March 2013: http://www.auburn.edu/~johnspm/gloss/judicial_activism

Johnson, P.M. “Judicial restraint.” 31 March 2013: http://www.auburn.edu/~johnspm/gloss/judicial_restraint

Mill, John Stuart. “’A science of human nature’ by John Stuart Mill.” 31 March 2013: http://philosophy.lander.edu/intro/articles/millscience-a.pdf

Press, Aric. “Cravath’s Chesler: time to kill the billable hour.” 31 March 2013: http://amlawdaily.typepad.com/amlawdaily/2009/01/cravaths-chesler-time-to-kill-the-billable-hour.html

Schroeder, R.D., Osgood, A.K., Oghia, M.J. “Family transitions and juvenile delinquency.” Sociological Inquiry, 80.4(2010): 579-604.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. “John Stuart Mill.” 31 March 2013: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/mill/#MorUti

Wasserman, G.A., Keenan, Kate, Tremblay, Richard E., Coie, John D., Herrenkohl, T.I., Loeber, Rolf, and Petechuk, David, 2003. “Risk and protective factors of child delinquency.”   31 March 2013: https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/193409.pdf