The current high school debate resolution is “Resolved: In the United States criminal justice system, jury nullification ought to be used in the face of perceived injustice.”

Although the resolution doesn’t seem to have a generic bare plural, is it correct to only talk about one kind of injustice? For example, if a debater decided to only focus on racial injustice, would this be a semantically correct interpretation of the topic? Is the word injustice an example of a mass noun?

  • 2
    Like many abstracts, injustice is normally a mass noun, but can be used as a count noun. In fact I detect two different meanings for a count noun: 1) an instance of injustice; 2) a class or type of injustice.
    – Colin Fine
    Oct 25, 2015 at 23:09
  • 1
    @Colin: You seem to be catching John Lawler disease, putting good answers in comments. Oct 25, 2015 at 23:16
  • I was aware that I wasn't addressing part of his question, so I didn't write an answer.
    – Colin Fine
    Oct 25, 2015 at 23:18
  • We'd usually use 'a miscarriage of justice' for an instance in the UK. Oct 25, 2015 at 23:24

1 Answer 1


Injustice meaning the state of unfairness is a mass noun:

Jim Crow was an era of institutionalized injustice.

But the word can be particularized to mean an instance of unfariness:

The decision in Dred Scott was the injustice that made the American Civil War inevitable.

Both uses may be modified -- racial injustice, social injustice, cruel injustice -- but the debate topic simply says perceived. If you argue that perceived racial injustice is enough for nullification, won't your opponents counter that you haven't made the required point because there are other types of perceived injustice?

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.