Being fair to the community is more important than being just to the individual. Discuss.

What follows is my second attempt to complete a LNAT essay question (under exam conditions including 40 minute time limit). I am putting this here  to archive my attempts at timed essay writing; more for my personal benefit than others. If however, you have any suggestions on how I can improve my answers I will happily welcome them; but I won’t make changes to this essay as this is my attempt “as is” (including spelling mistakes and grammar).

I intent to argue that while fairness is a right integral to both individuals as well as the communities they are from, the needs of a community supersede those of an individual. It is important to think about what it is exactly that constitutes a community; a community is a collection of individuals with shared traits, typically their shared geographical location. As such, it is possible to demonstrate that the rights of an individual would appear less important than those of a community if we make the assumption that the rights of all members of the community are of equal worth (as they should within a fair society) then the culmutive worth of the individuals that constitute the community clearly outweigh those of the individual.

For the reason I have stated as an overbearing argument, the rights of the community are more important than those of the individual. This is true with the macroscopic view of my argument, but looking at specific points on a more localized level is needed to supplement this claim. Firstly, consider a scenario common place in today’s newspapers; a large company requesting planning permission, often requiring a drastic and contentious change to the landscape, opposed by a local council with long emotional attachment to the area and a view to protecting and sustaining their way of life. In this case the local council represents the role of the community, while the company represents an individual, through its unified views and single-minded interests. In these cases there is often long deliberation because such issues are often contentious. As a whole however, media coverage representative of the views of the public in general support the community the majority of the time. To further support this view, when public opinion contrasts this, it is not because the views of community are being suppressed in support of the individual. Instead the roles within this scenario have simply reversed and the company has something of benefit to a wider society, while the local constituency appears to have a more focused and individualistic view.

Consider also, the very nature of the system of retribution within Britain today. Individuals are often removed from society as part of our penal system. While this is done in some cases to serve as a punishment to the individuals for crimes they have committed, it also serves as a way to isolate potentially dangerous or volatile persons from negatively effecting society as a whole. This is better illustrated with an example; a criminal who has been convicted of stealing is removed from society not necessarily to punish the criminal but instead prohibits the criminal from stealing further from society. Indeed, a man who been convicted of manslaughter while claiming temporary insanity may receive psychiatric treatment, not to punish the individual but instead to benefit society as a whole. This view to benefiting our communities, and society as a whole is key too much of our penal system.

Many aspects of accepted contemporary etiquette are in place not for the sole benefit of the individual, but for those around them. It is also important to remember that the places may often change, and the should the individual be put in an undesirable position, for example having to endure noisy neighbors; if the individual created similar levels of noise, then his right to do so as an equal would be respected. If several people were subjected to excess noise levels, then surely the rights of the many would outweigh the rights of the few. This view, is open to abuse, and is not continued throughout society as a whole. Indeed, there are executives who often exercise more control than a large majority who might instead share a different view. This example within our society demands the question; “why should the views of powerful individuals be held in esteem to the dismay of the masses?”

It is important to remember that by placing the rights of an individual above those of his community, you do so to the detriment of many others like him. As all members of society are equal, this can be deemed as unfair, and unacceptable in a just civilization. It is for these reasons that rights of a community are so important.


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