From Plato to Magna Carta, justice and the rule of law has been seen as integral to western culture, and today remains essential to our notion of how society should be run and underpins how we think our leaders and institutions should behave. But some critics argue this is a mistake. Innocence and guilt are central to the notion of justice but they argue these categories are damaging and immoral because behaviour is the outcome of genetics and the environment and in neither case is the individual responsible for them or able to influence them.

Should we abandon the vocabulary of justice, innocence and guilt as misguided, in favour of seeing crime as akin to illness or malfunction requiring repair rather than sanction? Can we restructure society to be not reliant on judgment, reward and punishment, and in doing so could we create a less hierarchical and more egalitarian culture? Or is justice as vital and important to us today as it was for the barons at Runnymede?

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