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ST.

XAVIER’S COLLEGE, MUMBAI


DEPARTMENT OF POLITICAL SCIENCE

CLASSROOM INTERNAL ASSESSMENT

ARISTOTLE’S
THEORY OF JUSTICE
AASHRAY PAUL
UID: 151019

WRITTEN UNDER THE SUPERVISION OF:


DR. PRATIBA NAITTHANI

AUGUST 20, 2017


INDEX

SR. CONTENT PAGE


NO.
1 INTRODUCTION 3

2 LIFESKETCH OF 5
ARISTOTLE
3 CONVENTIONAL IDEAS OF 7
JUSTICE
4 ARISTOTLE’S THEORY OF 9
JUSTICE
5 CRITICAL ANALYSIS 19

6 CONCLUSION 21

7 REFERENCES 23
INTRODUCTION
Justice is not only an important moral concept, but also a political one. In the modern day,
society chooses its own leaders with the hope that they will be justly treated. Legislators
make laws which are ‘just’. The purpose of law itself is to enable justice.
Justice is almost synonymous to Goodness. A person who is just in his actions, treats others
justly, is considered a good man. The corollary being, an unjust man is considered evil.
The Oxford Dictionary defines Justice as “the quality of being fair and reasonable.”
It also describes a just man as “behaving according to what is morally right and fair.
The synonym given for ‘just’ is ‘fair’.
Thus, we can say that Justice is a quality—of an individual or society. It is an attribute. Very
similar to having a virtue or being ‘virtuous’. Justice pertains to treating ‘others’ in a fair
manner. It does not only pertain to one’s self interests. We can also say that it is desirable to
be treated justly and because social relations are a two-way street, the only way to get a just
treatment is to treat others justly. Thus, justice involves behaving in a way for the common
good.
But the philosophers could not restrict themselves to the etymology and dictionary meanings
of justice. They wanted to explore the term justice as a moral and ethical trait. They also
wanted to find out the ramifications on the political society and political thought and whether
it is better or worse to be just in the real world.
In ancient Greece, there was a period of enlightenment which began in the fifth century BC.
There came into existence a new breed of philosophers or thinkers who wanted to question
every element in the social and political spheres. These people, also known as Sophists were
teachers of the time and therefore their ideas, even though a majority of them never wrote a
single book, were carried down by generations of students and written down at a later time.
Their ideas were narrow and influenced the minds of the Athenians of the time. For example,
Glaucon said that to do injustice was essentially good, and to suffer injustice was bad.
It brought about corruption and brutality in the society and people were blindly following
their ideas because they were considered the wise ones. They considered human nature
similar to that of any other animal and catered to only the self-interests of human beings.
They failed to look at the larger angle, that human beings need to be part of a society to
survive. That our survival does not depend on each person trying to outdo the others but
working together as a team for collective progress.
Socrates challenged their brutish ideas, but his theories were not accepted. In fact, Socrates’
ideas were revolutionary and as Plato puts it, he was ahead of his time. Socrates was shunned
by the sophists and the aristocrats who were influential people in the society. They felt
threatened because of his open-minded ideas and feared that the society would overthrow
them and they would lose their power and position at top of the hierarchy. Therefore, he was
tried in an unjust trial and sentenced to death by poison for trying to create unrest in the
society.
Plato, a disciple of Socrates, who was heavily influenced by his teacher’s ideas and set out to
challenge the authority of the sophists. He started his own school where he trained young
boys and girls in the various sciences and arts—right from geometry and biology to the art of
warfare and statesmanship. He dedicated his life to finding the “ideal state”, the “ideal ruler”,
the “ideal citizen”. Plato talked a lot about ideals which pertain to “What ought to be” rather
than “what is”.
Aristotle, a disciple of Plato, sought to find out “what is” rather than “what ought to be”.
Aristotle, though heavily influenced by his teacher Plato, begged to differ with him at certain
junctures. Probably the best illustration of the master-student relationship shared between
Plato and Aristotle is depicted in the painting “Scoulia di Atene” or “The School of Athens”
by the Italian painter Raphael. It shows the duo walking in the halls of Plato’s Academy,
engaged in a discussion, Plato’s hand pointing towards the heavens, significant of his
obsession with the ideal form of everything; while Aristotle’s hand is pointing towards the
earth, significant of his thought to discover things for what they are and not be too
preoccupied by ideals.
Aristotle is considered to be the greatest philosopher of all times. He was a renowned teacher
and philosopher of his own times and taught Alexander the Great of Macedonia who went on
to become the greatest ruler of all times. Throughout his lifetime he wrote at least 16 books,
which are bestsellers even today. His works are quoted and requoted and cited by many
researchers even today. His work “Politics” is considered path breaking. He was the first
person to separate politics from other studies and develop Politics as an independent field of
study.
Aristotle held ethics in very high regard. In his second book Nicomachean Ethics, he writes
about all the ethics and how a man can make his life more successful by being more ethical or
acting in an ethical way. He writes about the importance of various virtues and writes about
Justice as one of these virtues.
Ancient Greece had a lot of philosophers and all their work culminated into making Aristotle
the man he was. It becomes important for us to study Aristotle’s Theory of Justice, because it
not only reflects Aristotle’s original ideas, but also that of Plato’s and his predecessors’.
Aristotle agrees with Plato on the most part, and criticizes Antiphon and Thrasymachus for
their narrow ideas.
In this paper, I have tried to contain an analysis of Aristotelian idea of Justice, how it was
different from the ideas that came before it, and the significance of the ideas today. The
primary source of the paper is a translation of the Nicomachean Ethics Book V, where he
writes about his theory of justice. Secondary sources include a number of works by renowned
authors who have already commented on the life and works of Aristotle and his ideology.
What intrigued me about Aristotle’s Theory of Justice is that it is different from anything that
existed before his time. It is in the true sense, a revolutionary work. While it does not fail to
embody the human virtues in the theory, and think of the bigger picture, it also stays in the
realm of the living and real human beings.
Unlike the Sophists who were of the opinion that justice is only justice if it benefits the self,
to be unjust to others is to be just to the self and laws were made by the people who were too
weak to do injustice to others or to suffer injustice and not take revenge, Aristotle believed
that human beings need to live in harmony and good and evil are what is determined by the
society. Justice for him was what was for the common good and not just concerned to one
man.
At the same time, his theory was not as idealistic as his teacher Plato’s. While Plato’s
thinking revolved around the fact that we live in a cage and the only way to be happy was to
come out of it, Aristotle believed that we live in the real world, with real people and on the
road to happiness, “facts” are the starting point. The rest of the road is made up of
methodological discovery and logical reasoning of the world around us.
Pomerleau, W. P. (n.d.). Western Theories of Justice
Perhaps the biggest drawback of theories even today is the fact that they fail to encompass the
human aspect of it. The brilliance of Aristotle is that he gives the theory an all-round
coverage. He starts by talking about Justice as a virtue of the human being. Then he goes
ahead and talks about Justice in terms of economics and trade. He further talks about Justice
in the political sense. Thus, he follows an all-round approach to the study of Justice.

LIFESKETCH OF ARISTOTLE
In 384 BC, Aristotle was born to in the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedonia to the royal
doctor. He was destined to be the most influential philosopher in the world, surpassing even
Plato. He would be known as “the master” or simply “the philosopher”. Legends would be
told about his knowledge and he would tutor the future conqueror of the world—Alexander
the Great.
Aristotle was born in Stagira, Thrace. His father was the royal physician. Maybe that is what
piqued his interest in biology.
When Dion tasked Plato to educate Dionysius, and improve the Syracusan government,
Aristotle joined his Academy. What attracted Aristotle to Plato’s Academy was the fact that it
was the best place to continue advanced studies. He remained there till the death of Plato in
347 BC. He developed a special kind of relationship with Plato. Some researchers believe
that Aristotle was Plato’s favourite disciple. This could probably be attributed to the fact that
they had contradictory opinions on a lot of a things. Plato’s ideas were mostly idealistic. They
were difficult to replicate in the real world, if not impossible. Aristotle understood the
importance of ideals, but his philosophy was more realistic in nature. Every page of
Aristotle’s later works reflects his relationship with his master.
http://www.thebookoflife.org/the-great-philosophers-aristotle/
He then left Athens and took up a number of job. Within this period, he also wrote his first
independent writing.
Aristotle was then appointed to educate young Alexander, future conqueror of the world. But
Alexander’s political ideas are everything contradictory to Aristotle’s philosophy. Maybe he
lacked the imagination to fathom the importance of Alexander’s revolutionary conquest of
the East and the cultural assimilation of the Greek civilization with oriental cultures.
When Alexander set out on his conquest, Aristotle opened his own School in Athens in 335. I
fail to understand why he did not start his school in Macedonia. His school was called “The
Lyceum”. The name became the basis for “lycee” or French secondary schools. Aristotle
liked to walk around while departing knowledge to his disciples. Therefore, his followers
came to be known as “Peripatetics” or “Wanderers”.
A lot of Aristotle’s notes are basically compilations of lecture notes. For him, “Philosophy is
about practical wisdom”. He was fascinated by a lot of things that nobody bothered finding
out about. How does a chick grow inside an egg? Why does a plant grow well in one place
and die in another? His most interesting question was what makes a human life worth living,
and what makes a society a well-functioning one.
Aristotle’s writings are different from Plato’s. His most extensive works fail to incorporate
ideas propagated by conventional writers. A lot of his books were not meant to be written as
books at all. They were instructional notes used by Aristotle to teach at Lyceum. In fact, most
of these works were not even published until four centuries later. Obviously, they must have
been used by the later teachers at Lyceum to teach their pupils. Sabine writes, “It seems
probable that the twelve years Aristotle spent as head of Lyceum were largely occupied
directing a number of extensive projects of research, shared by his students, such as the
famous investigation constitutional history of hundred and fifty-eight Greek cities of which
Constitution of Athens is the only surviving example.
These researches, of which the study of constitutions is only one, were mainly historical
rather than philosophical; they were genuinely empirical investigations and in the light of
them Aristotle from time to time made additions to the body of writings which he already had
with him when the school was opened.”
According to Sabine, Aristotle’s most acclaimed work, Politics, was made from a
compilation of his notes at the Lyceum and therefore would not have been written the way it
has been, if it was written for the public. He talks about the difficulties faced in the
interpretation of Politics and says that although later researchers have tried to rearrange the
order of the chapters which are written in Politics, none of them make complete sense.
Sabine, G. H. A History of Political Theory
Jaeger believes that Politics was written in two parts. Some of them were written in the
immediate years after Plato’s death when he was setting up the Lyceum. The second part was
conceived years later when he was still head of Lyceum. He makes this assumption on the
basis of the influence that his works reveal. Books II, III, VII and VIII are written upon
philosophy as can already be seen in the Statesman or Laws.
He treats the “good man” and “good citizen” as the same. In fact, he spends Book II
criticizing Plato’s ideas of ideal state. The other parts of the book show a much deeper impact
of a new science or art of politics that he created after the opening of Lyceum. This new
study not only contained empirical evidences, but was also independent of the ethical
dimension.
His book, Nicomachean Ethics gets its name from his son Nicomachus, who was the editor of
this book. Aristotle identifies certain virtues possessed by the people who are successful in
their lives and teaches that to be successful in our own lives, we must imbibe those virtues.
Aristotle wrote “The Poetics” as a manual to write great plays. He includes a number of great
tips like the use of suspense in plays. Tragedy was the dominant theme in the plays of the
time. Aristotle finds the utility of tragedy and observes that the answer is “Catharsis” or
“Cleansing”. He says that tragedies help us cleanse our soul from bad emotions such as fear
or pity. Aristotle observes that the purpose of art is to make difficult realities sink deep in our
minds. He advocates the use of comedy to keep people’s attention, which he says that the
span is very short.
Sabine, G. H. A History of Political Theory
Alexander died in 323 BC. Aristotle escaped Athens from the Anti-Macedonian riots that
followed. He died a year later in 322 BC.

CONVENTIONAL IDEAS OF JUSTICE


Before discussing Aristotle’s Theory of Justice, let us first see a few views given by Ancient
Greek philosophers before his time on what is Justice.
In the Fifth Century BC, the Greeks experienced a period of Enlightenment. A new breed of
professional philosopher teachers emerged who questioned and debated fundamental issues
of moral and political nature. These philosopher teachers were called as “Sophists”. They
presented their ideas on justice and whether it was more beneficial for the people of a State to
be just or unjust. Their ideas are mostly negative in nature and their arguments for being
unjust are not well defended. Some of the prominent Sophists were Protagoras,
Thrasymachus and Antiphon. Socrates, a contemporary of the Sophists criticised and
contended their ideas of Justice and said that it was in the interests of everyone—the
individual as well as the State to act in a just manner. Plato, a disciple of Socrates, also
criticised most of the Sophists except Protagoras.
According to Protagoras, “Justice is obeying the rules of society: is essential to the existence
of a community, therefore a good benefiting the individual. Justice and political skill are
taught. Politics is cooperative.”
According to Thrasymachus, “Justice is the interest of the stronger, and sensible men avoid it.
The individual is happy when he gains his own interest. A just man always gets less than an
unjust one. First, in their contracts with one another, you'll never find, when the partnership
ends, that a just partner has got more than an unjust one, but less. Second, in matters relating
to the city, when taxes are to be paid, a just man pays more on the same property, an unjust
one less, but when the city is giving out refunds, a just man gets nothing, while an unjust one
makes a large profit. Finally, when each of them holds a ruling position in some public office,
a just person finds that his private affairs deteriorate because he has to neglect them, that he
gains no advantage from the public purse because of his justice, and that he's hated by his
relatives and acquaintances when he's unwilling to do them an unjust favour. The opposite is
true of an unjust man in every respect.”
Broucher, D., & Kelly, P. (Eds.). (2003). Political Thinkers
Socrates challenges Thrasymachus’ view. Plato, in his book, ‘Republic’ quotes Socrates
saying “Justice implies superior character and intelligence while injustice means deficiency
in both respects. Therefore, just men are superior in character and intelligence and are more
effective in action. As injustice implies ignorance, stupidity and badness, it cannot be
superior in character and intelligence. A just man is wiser because he acknowledges the
principle of limit.”
According to Antiphon, “Justice is a convention opposed to nature, and the natural brings
pleasure. Law is unable to uphold justice; therefore, it is better to be unjust whenever one
can.”
Mundhenk, S. Socrates, Antiphon, and the True Nature of Justice
Glaucon renews Thrasymachus’ argument and contends Socrates by saying, “To do injustice
is naturally good and to suffer injustice bad, but that the badness of suffering it so far exceeds
the goodness of doing it that those who have done and suffered injustice have tasted both. But
who lack the power to do it and avoid suffering it, decide that it is profitable to come to an
agreement with each other neither to do injustice nor to suffer it. As a result, they begin to
make laws and covenants, and what the law commands they call lawful and just. Justice is the
intermediate between the best and the worst. The best is to do injustice without paying the
penalty; the worst is to suffer it without being able to take revenge. People value justice not
as a good but because they are too weak to do injustice with impunity.”
Broucher, D., & Kelly, P. (Eds.). (2003). Political Thinkers
According to Cephalus, “Justice consists in speaking the truth and paying one's debt.”
According to Polemarchus, “Justice is doing good to friends and harm to enemies.”

PLATO’S THEORY OF JUSTICE


Plato was a staunch critic of the Sophists. He used “Dikaisyne” as the word for Justice which
meant “Righteousness”. Plato pointed out that Cephalus, Thrasymachus, Glaucon—all of
them propounded their theories of justice which contained a common element—it is external.
Whether it be, a convention, an accomplishment or otherwise, none of them carry the weight
of justice to the soul, which according to Plato is where it actually resides.
After criticizing their ideas, he puts forth his own theory of justice. According to Plato,
“Human organism contains three elements-Reason, Spirit and Appetite. An individual is just
when each part of his or her soul performs its functions without interfering with those of
other elements. For example, the reason should rule on behalf of the entire soul with wisdom
and forethought. The element of spirit will sub-ordinate itself to the rule of reason. Those two
elements are brought into harmony by combination of mental and bodily training. They are
set in command over the appetites which form the greater part of man's soul. Therefore, the
reason and spirit have to control these appetites which are likely to grow on the bodily
pleasures. These appetites should not be allowed, to enslave the other elements and usurp the
dominion to which they have no right. When all the three agree that among them the reason
alone should rule, there is justice within the individual.” Thus, according to Plato’s theory,
Justice is a sort of a specialization. It means carrying out one’s own job dutifully and at the
same time not interfering in another person’s job.

ARISTOTLE’S THEORY OF JUSTICE


A number of contemporary commentators believe that Aristotle was an exponent of ‘virtue
ethics’. In the words of Alasdair Macintyre, “the difference between Aristotelian virtue ethics
and modern ethical doctrines is that virtue ethics attaches little or no importance to moral
rules, as opposed to psychological motivation or moral character, as a determinant of what is
just and unjust.” According to Macintyre, moral virtues take the centre stage instead of moral
rules in Aristotelian approach ethics.
In his book, Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle goes puts forth his view of what is justice. He
discovers the various aspects and explains how sometimes just actions may not necessarily
lead to justice and unjust actions may not always mean prevalence of injustice. He says that
there is no wrong way to do the right deed and therefore an unjust action which as a
consequence of some events leads to the just end, cannot be called as justice. Justice is the
voluntary act of doing what is right or what is good for the entire society.
Aristotle considers justice as a virtue of the just man. At the same time also claims that there
is a logical separation of justice or injustice from the presence of virtues in a person. For
Aristotle, the just or unjust action has nothing to do with the intent of the doer.
Aristotle is of the opinion that a just end does not make a just man. The ends do not define
the means. A just end will not negate the injustice in the unjust action or the unjust motive.
Justice, in his opinion has an independent bar of right and wrong and it confirms to a Law.
He holds laws in very high regard. He says that the lawmakers of a polis come together to a
conclusion and with their collective wit decide what is good or bad for many of the people.
Therefore, laws are a reflection of what is considered to be good or bad in a society and as
such, anything that does not adhere to the laws of the polis, cannot be called as good and as
such, cannot be called just either.
Although he holds rules in high regard, he does not claim rules to be an end in itself, but
rather the means to establish a just society. He accepts the limitations to the universal
application of rules and even provides a solution to it.
According to Boucher and Kelly, “Those who interpret Aristotle as an exponent of virtue
ethics in the extreme sense referred to above offer a one-sided account of his views on ethics
in general and especially of his views on justice.” I cannot agree more to this statement
because clearly, these critics consider only one aspect of the Nicomachean Ethics—the
psychological role of character in the commission of just or unjust acts. They ignore his
opinion on the role of laws or rules in just and unjust.
In Book 1 of Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle begins with the lines “Every art and every
inquiry, and similarly every action and pursuit is thought to aim at some good; and for this
reason, the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim.” Thus, he
defines his belief of what is “good” as an activity or an action which is aimed at bringing
about some positive result, or has positive contribution and which everybody in the society
can agree that it is good. For example, the result of medical practice is to ensure good health
of the people--- the end result, here, is positive and everybody would agree that it brings a
positive change for having someone master the art of medicine and practice it to improve the
health of the society and help someone in need.
Sabine, G. H. (1960). A History of Political Theory

Aristotle speaks about Justice and Injustice in Book 5 of Nicomachean Ethics.

THEORY OF JUSTICE AS IN NICOMACHEAN ETHICS


Aristotle says that justice is not just an abstract state of mind but has to do with the
reasonability of an action. The general understanding of justice is to do what is right, and the
understanding to do what is right is to do what is dictated by the law.
He says Justice is “that kind of state of character which makes people disposed to do what is
just and makes them act justly and wish for what is just”. He says that often times we do not
know both sides of the coin. We may know only one side and decide by that one side what
the other side should be determined. For example, we may not know what a justice in a
certain situation is, but by the very fact that the current situation seems unjust, we can
conclude that the opposite of the current situation will be just.
Similarly, if we are of the opinion that the current situation is just, we can determine by that
that the opposite would be unjust. Therefore, the meaning of justice and injustice here is
ambiguous. A law-abiding businessman who treats his employees fairly and conducts his
business honestly are thought to be just. By this knowledge, a man who evades the law by
conducting illegal business, is biased in his treatment of employees and does not pay his taxes
on time will be defined as unjust.
Aristotle says that since the law-abiding man was seen as just and the law evading man as
unjust, all lawful acts are just acts. “Laws in their enactments aim at the common advantage
either of all or of those who hold power, or something of the sort; so that in one sense we call
those acts just that tend to produce and preserve happiness and its components for the
political society.” We can say that Aristotle believes that the people in power in a society
come together and decide not only what is lawful and unlawful, but also in the process what
is just and unjust for one cannot disagree with the other.
He further says, “In Justice is every virtue comprehended.” A law-abiding man will therefore
portray the virtues of a brave man and serve his country and not act like a coward when the
Polis needs him to defend its boundaries. He will also display the traits of a gentleman and
neither commit adultery to gratify his lust, nor harm another human or speak ill about them.
Justice is therefore the greatest virtue of all.
In Aristotle's view, “Therefore, the principles of political justice of a polis might correctly be
said to constitute the standard of justice or of right and wrong for its citizens." With this
statement, Aristotle shows the intersection of the laws of polis and its moral laws. He brings
about a correlation between ethics and politics. Aristotle strictly bars the existence of an
independent scale of justice which can be used to measure the righteousness of the laws of
the polis.
But in the above example, we realize that Justice is also a relative term. For a person’s virtues
will always be counted in relation to another. As such, if justice is indeed the greatest virtue,
then a just person can be called so only in comparison with an unjust man.
Justice, Aristotle says, is “another’s good”. This is because justice is related to another
person. He says, “The worst man is he who exercises his wickedness both towards himself
and toward his friends, the best man is not he who exercise his virtue towards himself, but he
who exercise it towards another; for this is a difficult task.” The unjust man has a greed for
not necessarily acquiring more and more of everything. When it comes to trouble, he will try
to acquire as less of it as possible. Thus, the lesser evil here is good for him.
All this, of course, he does at the cost of leaving less good for other members of the society
and more evil. Therefore, he cannot be termed as working for the common advantage as he is
only seeking to fulfil his selfish interests and therefore can be called unjust. So, justice means
what is good not just for the self but also for the Polis.
In his book, Aristotle quotes Hesiod and says, “Luck loves Virtue”. He says that Health and
Wealth are sought not because they enable a person to live well, but because they are
representative of what living well looks like. A person who does not possess neither health
nor wealth does not have a lot of opportunities to show his virtue. On top of that if he acts in
an unjust or unruly manner, then it is even worse for him because whatever little he can
establish will not amount to any merit.
Further, Aristotle says that there are 2 types of justice. “One is concerned with honour or
money or safety--- or that which includes all these, if we had a single name for it--- and its
motive is the pleasure that arises from gain; while other is concerned with all the objects that
the good man is concerned.” In explanation to this, Aristotle says that if a man commits
adultery for gaining money from the act, he is called unjust. But if another man commits
adultery and loses money but does so to satiate his lust, he is called “self-indulgent”. Thus,
every unjust act of man is ascribed a form of wickedness, for example, in the aforementioned
case, adultery is ascribed to self-indulgence. But if the person committing the wicked act
stands to gain money, the act is not ascribed to any form of wickedness but injustice. Both
these types of justice are in relation to a fellow member of the society.
A majority of what the laws command us to do on various subjects are ethically correct.
Therefore, whatever is lawful is virtue and whatever is unlawful is vice. Everything that law
commands us to do is for the common advantage. The question that arises hence is whether it
is the same to be a good man and a good citizen? In a modern example, if we consider a man
who breaks a traffic signal, we can say that he has violated the law and therefore is not an
ideal citizen and therefore, not a good man.
But is it fair to call him unjust without knowing the reason why he violated the law? If he
violated the law for a personal gain, such as to reach home in time for a cricket match to start,
he is an unjust man; the act here is selfish. But if he violated the traffic law to reach a hospital
in time to donate blood to his friend, he is doing it for the purpose of saving another life and
so he is a good man, even though he is not a good citizen. Conversely, a person who assaults
his wife at home but follows the traffic rules on point can be called a good citizen but
definitely not a good man. Thus, we can say that there is a difference between being a good
man and a good citizen.
From the above argument, we can also say that there is not only “just” and “unjust” but also
there must be an intermediate; a middle ground. In a society where there is “more “or “less”,
justice is the middle ground. If injustice is inequality, justice is equality. It implies that
1) Justice must be intermediate
2) Justice must be equal
Since intermediate and equal are relative terms,
3) Justice must be relative
Aristotle says that “the origin of most quarrels is when equals have unequal shares or when
unequals have equal shares.” A modern example of this is the practice of progressive
taxation, where people are divided into different income groups, with people falling in the
same bracket, pay equal amount of taxes, whereas, people of different brackets pay different
amount of taxes, with higher income groups paying more taxes than lower income groups.
In the above paragraph, we see how Aristotle’s concept of Justice is intertwined with the
concept of fairness, which in turn is intertwined with the concept of ‘equality’. It implies that
justice has to do with how a man treats another man (his neighbour). The principles
governing justice in this part only comprise of one part of just or unjust acts as an entirety.
Justice has to do with how one treats other person—to treat them with fairness is justice and
to treat them with bias in injustice. Injustice in this sense is exploitation. Justice and Injustice
in this sense are representative of an entire subclass of actions regulated by the law of the
land.
Aristotle spends most of Book 5 on developing a theory of justice centred around this and its
various applications in civil and political life. This is called ‘Particular Justice’ which he has
explained more clearly in his book ‘Politics’. However, he does outline the same in
Nicomachean Ethics and the understanding of both is the same.
When Aristotle pointed that justice is intertwined with equality, he also stated that the
definition of equality itself needs more clarity. Dividing equality into two parts for further
clarification he says that equality can be divided into
1) Proportional Equality
2) Arithmetic Equality
Aristotle says that people who have equal opportunities and are faced with similar situations
out to be treated equally by law. Conversely, people who vary in calibre and are faced with
different situations ought to be treated differently. This is called fairness. It is also called as
the principle of Proportional Equality.
According to Aristotle, equals should be treated equally and vice versa. He says, “Unequals
ought to be treated differently provided the difference in treatment is proportional to the
inequality that exists between them.” If the conditions for this are fulfilled, then we can say
that justice is served even though they are treated differently.
The principle of Arithmetic Equality persists where persons who are taken into consideration
are equals of one another. Here there is no question of proportion and therefore it is a matter
of reciprocity. It is the “golden rule of doing as would be done by”.
Aristotle believes that the principle of Proportional Equality is more important than that of
Arithmetic Equality. This is because Arithmetic equality is a part of the former and is
applicable to only special circumstances of the former. Its scope is therefore limited.
Injustice affects Aristotle’s idea of “proportion geometrical” which follows that “the whole is
to the whole as either part is to the corresponding part”. Injustice will violate this concept
because it causes the unjust man to have abundance or too much and the victim of the unjust
act to have scarcity or too little. This is in the case of good.
Conversely, the unjust will have lesser in comparison to the victim of the unjust act, when it
comes to evil.
Thus, the last preference of any man is ‘evil’, followed by ‘good’ and what is most preferred
is ‘greater good’.
When it comes to law or morals, for Aristotle, justice holds the supreme place as far as
equality is concerned. He says that there are two spheres where the principle of justice is
practically applicable—
1) Rectificatory Justice
2) Distributive Justice
Rectificatory justice is called “diorthotikon dikaion”. It governs the relationships of citizens
of the polis. People in a polis belong to the same socio-economic strata and therefore we can
say that they are equals. Thus, there exists scope to apply the principle of Arithmetic Justice.
The assumption is that people are equals. Therefore, they must also be equals in their
treatment of other people of the polis. Consequentially they must also be treated as equals
when it comes to the law of the land that exists in their times. When this equal treatment does
not exist, the purpose of law is to eradicate (rectify) the existence of any imbalance. This is
rectificatory justice.
Aristotle introduces the Distributive Justice by saying, “it is exhibited in distributions of
honors, property, or anything else which is divided among the members of the community.
For in such matters men may receive shares that are either equal or unequal to the shares of
others.”
The concept can be understood in two parts—First, he says that political associations are not
the only type of associations humans engage in where they are more or less on equal grounds.
Any social or cultural association is subject to Distributive Justice. Second, the words he uses
for ‘equal’ is ‘isos’ and ‘unequal’ is ‘anisos’ which also translate to ‘fair’ and ‘unfair’.What
can be understood is that it is possible for a person to have a ‘fair’ share in comparison to
another person and be called just even if it is not ‘equal’.
In Nicomachean Ethics, unjust acts such as murder, adultery, theft etc are classified under
rectificatory justice. Peter Simpson claims “Aristotle never bothers to gives any reason why
adultery or murder is wrong”. But this is wrong because Aristotle has clearly said that
injustice constitutes wrongly taking away what is not yours. As for murder, Aristotle says that
it is an offense against the State because we are taking away a resource of the State.
It is also obvious from the text of Nicomachean Ethics that the above-mentioned acts are all
those acts which one would never wish upon themselves. Therefore, they ought to never do it
to someone else either. By commission of such misdeeds, the citizens have failed to treat
their counterparts as their equals. This behaviour does not adhere to the concept of equity.
Therefore, it also violates the concept of reciprocity.
Boucher and Kelly observe, “Aristotle seems to think that the moral rules forbidding these
actions can be logically inferred from the more general principle of equity or reciprocity
combined with certain obvious facts about human nature.”
Despite all of this, one peculiar fact about rectificatory justice of Aristotle is that he does not
think it should extend to every human being in the polis. We can draw a conclusion that he
obviously thinks that not all human beings have a natural right to be treated as equals.
This is because as we see in his book ‘Politics’, he defends the institution of slavery by
saying that just because slaves are not equals to citizens does not means that the institution is
not good. He was clearly aware of the counter arguments to slavery but refused to accept it as
a vice all the same.
Rectificatory Justice has a different specific character from Proportionate Justice. In
Proportionate Justice, justice is maintained when equal people receive equal share of good or
evil and the violation of this equality is injustice. Rectificatory Justice however, refers to
exchanges or “transactions” between men and the justice is a sort of equality but injustice is
arithmetic, not geometric inequality. In this system of justice, all members of the society or
Polis are treated as equals and judge takes efforts to equalise the difference.
As Aristotle says “The law looks only to the distinctive character of the injury, and treats the
parties as equal, if one is in the wrong and the other is being wronged. The suffering and the
action have been unequally distributed; but the judge tries to equalize by means of the
penalty, taking away from the gain of the inflictor of pain.”
The term “gain” is not used in the common sense of the word. An action may not result in
any monetary addition to the perpetrator, but if he is causing grief or pain to his victim, he is
said to have gained from the act of injustice. For example, the perpetrator may wound or kill
a person out of hatred and does not stand to gain a single penny of money from the act, but
because the sufferer — the slain or wounded is said to be at a “loss” and the perpetrator is
said to be in “gain”.
The nature of the judge here is to be the intermediate and his job is to restore equality. He
does this by drawing an imaginary line dividing the unequal parts. He will take the greater
part of the greater segment and add it to the smaller part of the smaller segment to make them
equal and restore justice. “The equal is intermediate between the greater and the lesser line
according to Arithmetic Proportion.
It is for this reason that it is also called just (sikaion), because it is a division into two equal
parts (sich), just as if one were to call it sichaion; and the judge (sikastes) is one who bisects
(sichastes).”
‘Loss’ and ‘Gain’ are voluntary transactions because to get more than one’s due share is
called ‘Gain’ and to forego one’s share is called ‘Loss’. When people neither have more nor
less than what belongs to them, they are said to neither lose nor gain.
‘Just’ is considered as involuntary transaction as it is referring to having equity before or after
the transaction.
Distributive Justice is also called as “dianemetikon dikaion”. There are three elements to it--
1) A good for distribution
2) Group of people amongst whom the good should be distributed
3) Standard of distribution
The standard of distribution states the degree to which the possession of the good belongs in
the hands of a person. The Theory of Distributive Justice concerns the distribution of
resources between a man and the polis as a whole. Like rectificatory justice, the assumption
is the people are equals because it concerns a particular polis. He restricts this theory to the
adult male population of the polis. It is a key idea in the book ‘Politics’.
Aristotle goes on to challenge the Pythagorean belief that “Justice without qualification is
reciprocity”. This model neither fit his distributive justice nor rectificatory justice. He says
that man believes in the policy of ‘evil for evil’ and if he fails to avenge the evil done to him,
he will think that his position is no better than that of a slave. Basically, he is referring to the
policy of an eye for an eye.
Aristotle gives the example of an officer and says that if an official in the process of carrying
out his duties, ends up injuring a civilian, it would not be justice to injure the officer in return.
At the same time, if a civilian injures an officer, he should not only be injured but also be
punished in addition to it. The Principle of Reciprocity does not therefore serve justice in
every situation.
He also brings the problem of double coincidence of wants when it comes to transactions as
an example cited to prove that the Principle of Reciprocity does not serve justice in all
situations. Using the example of a builder and a shoemaker, Aristotle says that if the value of
a house was the same as that of a shoe, then the services of a shoemaker making a shoe for
the builder could be reciprocated by the builder building a house for the shoemaker. But the
fact that it isn’t makes all the difference. The work of the builder is not the same as that of a
shoemaker and reciprocity is not justice. The city is held together by proportionate return.
The commodities exchange must somehow be comparable. Money, therefore, becomes an
intermediate—measuring all things and assigning worth to different commodities and
services. It is by using money that we can find out how many shoes equate one house.
The intermediate not only allows us to compare the services of a builder and a shoemaker,
but also that of a shoemaker and another shoemaker, for there can be a difference in the
quality of their services or products. The builder and the shoemaker can be treated as equals
only because their services can be equated by an intermediate (money) and not because of
reciprocity.
Concluding proportionate and rectificatory justice, Aristotle finally defines the just action as
“intermediate between acting unjustly and being unjustly treated; for the one is to have too
much and the other to have too little”. He defines Justice as “A mean, not in the same way as
the other virtues, but because it relates to an intermediate amount, while injustice relates to
the extremes.”
Adhering to this definition, a just man is one who distributes resources between himself and
others not in such a way that he gets all the desirable resources but in a way that everybody
gets equally according to proportionate equity what they all deserve.
Injustice, he says “is similarly related to the unjust, which is excess and defect, contrary to
proportion.” Going by the same example as above, the man would be said to be unjust if he
hoarded all the desirable things for himself and violated the law of proportional equity.
In the next part, Aristotle talks about the need for a constitution or written, rigid laws. He
contradicts what he said earlier about virtue and good and bad and says that a person cannot
simply be called unjust because his act is unjust. For example, he may commit adultery and
while the act is unjust in itself, the man cannot be called unjust if he did it out of passion and
not choice.
Aristotle says “What we are looking for is not what is just without qualification but also
political justice. This is found among men who are free and either proportionately or
arithmetically equal.” Injustice does not exist between all the men between whom there is an
unjust action and this leads men to assign too much of goodness too little evil in themselves.
“This is why we do not allow a man to rule, but rational principle, because a man behaves
thus in his own interests and becomes a tyrant. The magistrate on the other hand is the
guardian of justice and if of justice, then of equality also.”
Aristotle says Political Justice can be divided into—
1) Natural
2) Legal
Natural Justice refers to those areas which are unaffected by the differences in people’s
thinking and are equally applicable to all.
Legal Justice is made as equal for all when it is put down in the Constitution of the Polis but
while applying it, it may not be so indifferent.
He says that though people may believe that all justice is natural justice, it may not be true.
He cites an example and says that by Nature, the right hand of man may be stronger yet it is
possible that all men will be ambidextrous. He further says that in the way which the prices of
wine and corn are different in the wholesale and retail markets, similarly, the things which
are not made just by nature but by human conventions, will not be the same everywhere.
Thus, the need for Legal Justice.
Aristotle says, “Principles of political justice of a polis might correctly be said to constitute
the standard of justice or of right and wrong for its citizens.” According to Boucher and
Kelly, “this conclusion is a logical implication of Aristotle’s understanding of the relationship
between ethics and politics”. They say that the political rules are the same as the moral rules
and that it was not possible for Aristotle to allow an independent yardstick for justice which
could be used to measure the effectiveness or righteousness of the laws of the polis. In
Aristotle’s own words, “the aim of the true politician is to produce good citizens who are
'obedient to the laws' no matter what the specific character of these laws happens to be. For
'whatever is lawful is in some way just'”.
After this, Aristotle draws a distinction between unjust act and injustice, and just act and
justice. He says that what makes an unjust act injustice is whether the act was committed
voluntarily or involuntarily. Voluntariness refers to the fact that a person is acting in his good
conscience with full knowledge of his actions and that of the consequences of his action and
yet chooses to do so. An act may involve an unjust act but if it was involuntary, it cannot be
called injustice. Let us take for example person A who borrows a sum of money from person
B.
In the first case, A returns the money to B in good faith by his choice. In this case, he is
committing a just action voluntarily and therefore justice prevails.
In the second case, A returns the money to B, because he is forced to do so out of fear of B,
and not by choice. In this case, even though the act was just, it was involuntary and therefore
we cannot say that there is justice.
In the third case, A fails to return the money to B, because he could not manage to gather the
required sum in time and therefore only returns a part of the principal amount. In this case,
although the act is unjust, we cannot call it injustice because it was committed involuntarily.
A tried to arrange for the funds and if it was possible, he would have returned the said sum to
B.
In the fourth case, A decides to dupe B and runs away with his money. In this case, the act is
not only unjust but also voluntary, and therefore it is injustice.
Aristotle points out three things that could go wrong in a transaction between men—
1) Misadventure- When a person acts without a reasonable explanation
2) Mistake- When a person acts without a reasonable explanation but there is no malicious
intent.
3) Injustice- When a person acts with knowledge but the knowledge is acquired after
commission of act.
4) Vice- When a person acts with prior knowledge and malicious intent.
He further says that a person who acts out of anger and harms another person with malicious
intent is not the culprit. The real culprit is the person who enraged this person. This case, of
course refers to a situation where the person enraging the doer is feeding him false
information with the knowledge that once enraged, the doer will harm the victim.
Aristotle says, “Of involuntary acts some are excusable, others not.” The mistakes man
makes due to ignorance are excusable. But those mistakes where a man is overwhelmed by an
unnatural passion, the perpetrator is liable to the law and is not excusable.
In the next part, Aristotle asks a question whether it is possible to voluntarily want to be
treated with injustice or is injustice always involuntary? He goes into a sporadic discussion
deciding whether it is even humanly possible for a person to wish for injustice to happen to
himself, and to wish so voluntarily, that is, with full knowledge of their actions. He even
questions if the definition of justice needs an amendment but then realizes that the question
can be answered by using the distinction he had applied to unjust action and injustice. With
the application of the said difference, he comes to the conclusion that “he suffers nothing
contrary to his own wish, so that he is not unjustly treated as fast as this goes, but at most
only suffers harm.”
Aristotle next picks up the subject of equity and equitable and their respective relations to
justice and the just. Aristotle says that “equitable” is essentially good and though in some
cases it will be different from justice, equitable will always have a positive connotation and if
they are different, either just or equitable is not justice, and if the same, they are both good.
The problem with equitable is Aristotle says, “not the legally just but a correction of legal
justice”. Laws are universal in nature but it is not possible to apply the same laws universally
to every situation. In such cases, the law usually takes its normal course of action and neither
the law is to be blamed, nor the law maker, but the situation is to be blamed.
Aristotle states that it is not possible to govern all aspects of life by laws which are universal
in nature. The fact that laws are universal makes them defective and therefore the existence of
equitable as a correction of law. Equitable is not better than absolute law, but the
absoluteness of law.
For him, equity is purely a formal principle. In his own words, “like cases ought to be treated
alike.” It simply states that in order for justice to prevail, it is essential to treat equal people
equally and unequal people differently. But as Boucher and Kelly observe, “It does not,
however, stipulate who are to be considered equal, how they are to be treated, or when their
circumstances are to be considered as relevantly similar”.
In a way, the principle of equity contradicts what Aristotle has said earlier about laws being
impartial and universal. This principle should be given a recognition amongst the principles
of political justice.
In Aristotle's view, “It is necessary for us to make the transition from the study of ethics,
which deals with abstract or formal principles of justice, to the study of politics, which deals
with the concrete realization of these principles in the historical circumstances of particular
polis and with the differences which exist between polis in this respect.”
Aristotle. Nicomachean Ethics(W. Ross, Trans.)

CRITICAL ANALYSIS
Aristotle, like Plato, believed that while the bulk of humanity are fit to be ruled only, because
of their dramatic differences in capacity, a select few are qualified to rule. According to
Aristotle, the bulk group consists of women, children, slaves, and other people unsuitable for
ruling because of their physical and mental limitatins (handicaps). The right relation between
the bulk and the select is that of obedience and command.
The theory of justice by Aristotle does not concern itself with the people with these stark
natural differences. It concerns more people who are virtually equal to one another in the
sense that they are free and have relatively lower levels of differences. For example, he
considers people of the same polis in considerations for some of his principles. People of a
polis had similar socio economic conditions.
This argument plays a very minor role in Plato’s Republic, but is the central theme in Book V
of Nicomachean Ethics. This book, designed to compliment his other book ‘Politics’ is an
inquiry into what Aristotle called “Eudamonia” or “fulfilment”. It talks about the human
nature and how virtues are integral to helping a man lead the good life. Aristotle’s Theory of
Justice is a part of this much larger horizon.
Aristotle was a rationalist in both morality and human knowledge. His concept of justice as a
virtue is evident of the fact that he is committed to being rational. In the Middle Ages, a lot of
subsequent thinking about justice was inspired by Aristotle and the role of reasonability in
acting justly as well as perceiving right and wrong rather than blindly surrendering to our bad
desires or impulses.
Italian philosopher and theologist Thomas Aquinas defends Aristotle’s theory of justice by
saying that it brings about a clear line of distinction between general and particular justice as
well as brings a scale of proportionality in people.
Sachs, J. Aristtole: Ethics
Scottish philosopher David Hume suggests a much narrower perspective of justice based on
the Aristotelian notion that being just entails ensuring that everyone gets what they deserve
by merit. He says, “The just person doesn't steal from others and returns what he has
borrowed”. Hume thus simply thinks of justice as a respect for other people’s property.
Even though Aristotle clearly states that the concept of justice can be applied in any social
institute, he lays special emphasis on its importance for the political institution. The political
institution, for Aristotle, consists of people who have come together to live a life which they
share in common so that they can attain a higher standard of living and by mutual
dependence, be self sufficient.
For this purpose, it is important to make contributions which are diverse in nature. For
example, the production of goods is one sort of a contribution, whereas, the production of
services is another. Then again, human flourishing also depends on certain emotional bonds,
such as the institution of friendship. Therefore, the success of a political association depends
on the nexus of economic activities with non economic ones.
It can be assumed that since success of a political institution depends on contribution from
various kinds of people, disputes arising out of differences of opinion as well as that of
comparative worth of contributions by different people is at the bottom of the failure of the
political institution. He describes this in detail in the segment on relationship of justice with
the principle of reciprocity.
Aristotle rightly observes that it is difficult to bring about a righteous comparison between
two services or products that cannot be compared. Therefore, ensuring justice is a problem
there. However, as far as comparable products are concerned, the same problem can be
resolved with the introduction of money, which enables us to compare commodities of
varying utility with a single scale.
The Principle of Distributive Justice, as appears in Nicomachean Ethics gets underpinned by
something called the Principle of Contribution. The principle states, “it is just for people to
reap rewards from a common enterprise that are proportional in value to the contributions
they have made to that enterprise”. Propagators of this theory like Herbert Spencer appear to
have thought that all contributions can be measure by monetary standards and that this
principle can be understood best by the free market model.
The Aristotelian version of the principle of contribution is completely different from Herbert
Spencer’s model because it has nothing to do with the free market model. According to
Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, “Indeed, it is a point of considerable importance in
his theory that, in the absence of a common standard by which to compare the values of
diverse contributions, this unambiguous principle will not lead to similarly unambiguous
practical prescriptions and that it is only through political processes that such prescriptions
can be devised fairly.”
With reference to Rectificatory or corrective justice, Aristotle give an example of builder and
shoemaker and says that the builder, having contributed twice as much to the overall stock of
goods of the state, is entitled to twice the share of resources as compared to the shoemaker.
This principle sheds light on what he means when he says, “reciprocity in accordance with a
proportion rather than with arithmetic equality.” In this case, the theory of proportionate
justice and theory of rectificatory justice are underpinned by the same concept—the principle
of contribution. Which has been construed expansively to include proportionate reciprocity as
its own form.
Aristotle clearly defines the difference between voluntary and involuntary actions. With
reference to involuntary actions, his theory of retributive justice as a part of the theory of
rectificatory justice seems like it is on the same lines as the principle of an eye for an eye or
lex talions. This principle also called as balanced reciprocity seems embedded in his theory of
corrective justice.
Stoic, Christian and rationalist views of Natural law or Natural Rights are treated as a
universal standard of justice which have no idependent scales by which their effectiveness
can be measured. They are considered immutable and Aristotle’s concept of what is just by
nature blends well with this notion. According to the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy,
“Aristotle’s theory is an early – perhaps the earliest – formulation of a conception of justice
independently of any particular legal system, one that can be invoked to evaluate, criticize,
and in some instances condemn existing legal provisions as unjust.”
Some parts of the Nicomachean Ethics suggest that Aristotle’s concept of justice is so
obsessed with law that the line between concept of law and that of justice is virtually blurred
and he considers ‘just’ to be a synonym of ‘law’. For example, he says in the beginning of
Nicomachean Ethics “the ‘just’ then includes what is lawful and fair, and ‘unjust’ is what is
unlawful and unfair”. He also says, “it is plain that all laws are in a sense just. For laws are
the products of legislation, and we acknowledge that each of the products of legislation is
just”.
These are clear indications of the fact that for Aristotle, what is legal is also just.
Aristotle has gone to great depths to show that the principle of reciprocity is different from
the concept of Justice. He gives an example of an officer and a common man and says, “if an
officer strikes a man, it is wrong for the man to strike him back; and if a man strikes an
officer, it is not enough for the officer to strike him, but he must be punished as well."
The fact that the difference in rank holds such importance in establishing Justice questions his
concept of equality. According to this example, the policy of strict reciprocity cannot bring
about justice in the case where the persons involved are of different ranks. This policy is
followed till date. For example, the policy of preventive detention which gives unlimited
powers to the police to detain and interrogate a civilian who is a suspect and the person thus
detained cannot claim that injustice has been done to him/her.
This policy is something that Aristotle suggested as “proportionate reciprocity” and it was
meant as a solution to the limitations of “strict reciprocity”.
To conclude my critical analysis, I would like to take from Notre Dame Law Review article
“Aristotle’s Conception of Justice”. Aristotle has very precisely pointed out the two different
kinds of Equality and Justice from which all problems in the legal world concerning the
human life stem out of. It is particularly tricky to answer questions regarding “strict justice”
and “proportionate justice”.
As written in the article, “This difference in the administration of Justice is, however, not
identical with the difference that exists between the general moral virtue of Justice and
"Justice in the narrower sense," since it is neither simply a question of dualism of form and
content, nor a problem of the particular standpoint.”
Khroust, A. H. Aristotle's Conception of Justice

CONCLUSION
The concept of justice as virtue emerged as a reference to a trait in individuals. Up to some
extent, it still remains so, albeit today we think of justice to individuals as a variation of
social justice. One thing that hasn’t changed it the diffusion of justice as a virtue in two
parts—
First, the concept is ambiguous in its social applications and between individuals. John Rawls
regards it as “the first virtue of social institutions”. But Rawls was not the first to think of this
concept in this dimension. Aristotle preceded him. Human beings are social animals and
organise themselves into political institutions. Thus, the concept of justice can never be
separated from its societal dimension for long.
Second, from the very beginning, efforts have been made by a number of thinkers to analyse
the virtue aspect of justice. In this effort, they have tried to formalize the requirements for the
concept and consequently threatened to make the virtue aspect sound gratuitous.
It is tempting to think in the narrow sense of the matter—that the theory of justice is is only
about following the rules. To be just and virtuous all you have to do is follow the laws. That a
lawful citizen is a good citizen. While it is true in a sense as a good citizen is one who is
obedient to the constitution or law of the land, it is a heavily misconstrued fact that simply
following laws will make you a good person.
By thinking in the former sense, we are making virtue subservient to laws. Doing so threatens
the entire Aristotelian notion of virtue and justice.
https://www.publishersweekly.com/
Aristotle uses more words than are needed to explain his theory of justice. He goes about
beating the bushes when he could have simply concluded the theory in a much concise
manner.
Some parts of the theory are inconclusive, for example, it is not very clear whether he is
following the ‘an eye for an eye’ policy when talking about reciprocative justice because
doing that would make his theory less ‘virtuous’. Whereas some parts are silly. For example,
he assumes that people would have a conclusion in deciding the worth of a house against a
shoe.
Aristotle, in the Nicomachean Ethics, does not sound like a strong proponent of Liberty. In
fact, his ethics does not express any single view clearly.
He has been compared with John Stuart Mills by some researchers. But in truth, J.S Mills was
very fervent about liberty. While Mill’s ideas had a lot of drawbacks and particularly
damaging to liberty and justice, Aristotle’s theories majorly contributed to the growth of the
mindset of justice and freedom across Europe.
Aristotle expresses and summarizes the best ideas of the Greeks. His ideas are still quoted
and requoted by researchers in the present day. His ideas are the basics by which humanity is
still measured.
https://jim.com/relevant.htm
Everybody loves justice. Everybody wants to be treated in a just manner. What is important
about Aristotle’s theory is that he helps us understand that justice is a selfish virtue, yet it
only helps the self if we do not act selfishly.
Aristotle was probably the most important advocate of virtue as a selfish desire. He taught
people that we must be selfish when it comes to imbibing virtue. That we must be virtuous,
not for anyone else, but for ourselves.
He treats virtue of justice in a less comprehensive way than Plato did. For him, virtue of
justice exists as a virtue of an individual and virtue of political institutions and that of
constitutions. The relations between these forms is questionable.
Aristotle expresses that they are tightly bound and yet not synonyms of each other in terms of
application and concept.
He describes virtue as a personal trait to be a model for character, in which virtue acts as an
intermediate between excess and deficit.
Aristotle suggests two ways of interpreting his concept of justice. One is the “general” sense
in which justice is synonymous with virtue. The other is the “particular” sense which
concerns with fairness. It involves respecting others’ property.
Aristotle is indecisive between concept of justice as virtue. Whether the requirement to be a
just man is to have all the virtues because to have one virtue is to have all the virtues, or a
formal structure of justice where virtue threatens to become subservient.
All of this leaves certain unanswered questions as regards the nexus between particular and
political justice and how justice as a virtue in a human being is useful for the polis.
REFERENCES

Primary sources
Aristotle. Nicomachean Ethics(W. Ross, Trans.). Retrieved from
https://socserv2.socsci.mcmaster.ca/econ/ugcm/3ll3/aristotle/Ethics.pdf

Secondary Sources

Books
Sabine, G. H. (1960). A History of Political Theory(3rd ed.). Calcutta, India: Oxford.
Broucher, D., & Kelly, P. (Eds.). (2003). Political Thinkers(2nd ed.). New York: Oxford
University Press.
Aristotle’s Theory of Justice. (2011). In D. Johnson (Ed.), A Brief History of Justice(1st ed.,
pp. 63-88). John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Research Papers
Khroust, A. H. (1942). Aristotle's Conception of Justice. Notre Dame Law Review,17(2).
Retrieved from http://scholarship.law.nd.edu/ndlr
Mundhenk, S. (2014). Socrates, Antiphon, and the True Nature of Justice. Aporia,24(2).
Retrieved from http://aporia.byu.edu/pdfs/mundhenk-
socrates_antiphon_and_the_true_nature_of_justice.pdf

Websites
LeBar, M., & Slote, M. (2002, March 08). Justice as a Virtue. Retrieved August 19, 2017,
from https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/justice-virtue/
A. H. (2013, December 06). 5 Reasons Why Plato and Aristotle Still Matter Today. Retrieved
from
https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/5%20Reasons%20Why%20Plato%20and%20Aristotl
e%20Still%20Matter%20Today.html
Aristotle. (n.d.). Retrieved August 19, 2017, from http://www.thebookoflife.org/the-great-
philosophers-aristotle/
Sachs, J. (n.d.). Aristtole: Ethics. Retrieved August 19, 2017, from
http://www.iep.utm.edu/aris-eth/
Mondal, P. (n.d.). Aristotle’s Theory of Justice. Retrieved from
http://www.yourarticlelibrary.com/
Why Aristotle is still relevant. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://jim.com/relevant.htm
Pomerleau, W. P. (n.d.). Western Theories of Justice. Retrieved August 19, 2017, from
http://www.iep.utm.edu/justwest/