Twelve Angry Men

It is not unusual to hear someone admonished for being judgmental. Such admonishments are themselves a judgment, and just one example of the fact that it is impossible to live without judging others. The real issue is not whether to judge or not, but whether to judge rationally or not.

Twelve Angry Men shows us the virtue of judging rationally, and the danger of judging irrationally.

The movie takes place in the jury room for a murder trial, and all that is depicted is the jury’s deliberations—the process by which it judges the guilt or innocence of the accused.

Judging others is tremendous responsibility, and our well-being depends on the judgments we make. It makes a difference whether we befriend moochers or the productive. It makes a difference whether we punish criminals or excuse their actions because they were abused as children. It makes a difference whether we practice justice or injustice.

Justice is the virtue of judging others by rational standards.

Twelve Angry Men dramatizes justice. As the movie makes clear, this is not always easy. But the solution to that difficulty is not abstention from judging. The solution is unremitting devotion to the facts.

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