re krauthammer etc:we should probably think about what justice actually is. i think of it as a kind of generalized or socialized revenge. the mechanism by which revenge gets socialized is empathy. so: someone hurts someone. in an attenuated way, other people can feel the harm, and through that, the desire or necessity of striking back at the perpetrator. in other words, justice, it seems to me, is a slightlly rationalized or regularized vengeance, made possible by empathy. surely you can't contemplate a judge who has no way of entering imaginatively into the experience of a victim of violence or something? otherwise you might just as well just let a computer or something take care of this, just mechanically categorize the case and prescribe a punishment. even then, the only reason you're doing this is because you feel something for the victim. the problem with the ricci verdict, obviously, isn't empathy, but lack of empathy.
this indeed makes things like group membership potentially relevant, because the question is: what is your empathy class? the ideal is universality, of course, and we probably all do have some tendency that way. but the more elaborate the identification, the more vivid the empathy, and to the extent that various group orderings mark or create limits on similarity, they suggest limits on the scope of empathy. anyone is going to have an easier time empathizing with someone who is very much in their own situation. this is a limited argument for representation of groups on the bench, but also for melting down barriers, or engaging in a personal discipline of entering into the experience of people in other places or groups. this requires actual worlk, not a mere declaration.