Justice the Understanding and Practice Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1441 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 8  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Business - Ethics

..." Aristotle also qualifies that states of character (or moral excellence) is determined by signs of pleasure and pain and points out that "it is on account of the pleasure that we do bad things, and on account of the pain that we abstain from noble ones." It is the desire to avoid pain that necessitates the definition of justice as virtuous actions: "It is well said then, that it is by doing just acts that the just man is produced.... But most people do not do these, but take refuge in theory...." (Nichomachean Ethics, Book 2).

Whether it is economic, social or emotional justice, the logic used by Aristotle begins to assume real meaning when an individual has gained knowledge and experience of the negation of justice i.e. injustice: "Violation of another's rights or of what is right; A specific unjust act; a wrong" (American Heritage Dictionary), and it is then that the fact that the true meaning of justice lies in exercising the wisdom of moral righteousness is best understood and appreciated.

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Aristotle addresses this aspect as well when he says, "What the difference is between virtue and justice...is plain...they are the same but their essence is not the same; what, as a relation to one's neighbour, is justice is, as a certain kind of state without qualification, virtue." What Aristotle refers to is the fact that it is not enough to be virtuous only in one's own affairs: "...worst man is he who exercises his wickedness both towards himself and his friends, and the best man is not he who exercises his virtue towards himself but he who exercises it towards another.... Justice in this sense, then, is not part of virtue but virtue entire...." In Aristotle's ultimate analysis, therefore, justice is defined as a the greatest of virtues, complete in itself, when it is practiced for 'another's good.' (Nichomachean Ethics, Book 5).

Term Paper on Justice the Understanding and Practice Assignment

Plato, too, defines justice as a virtue, the practice of which leads to the individual cultivating noble qualities such as wisdom and temperance and thus the perfection of the human soul. Plato bases his reasoning on the grounds that while every man has multiple facets, good and bad, nobility lies in his subjecting the beast in him to the man and that no man can be said to profit from injustice if it has led to the beast in him subjugating the man: "...every one had better be ruled by divine wisdom...or, if this be impossible, by an external authority, in order that we may all, as far as possible, under the same government, friends and equals...seen also in the authority we exercise over children...until we have established in them a principle...and by cultivation of this higher element have set up in their hearts a guardian...." (The Republic, IX.23-27).

Aristotle and Plato's definitions of justice as the realization, internalization and actualization of moral virtues are based on the knowledge of human nature, which if left to its own devices would probably lead to chaos and anarchy. Thus, the emphasis on the need to understand and practice justice for the common good, which in turn, will lead to the individual good. By doing so, the individual will achieve peace and happiness through not just material well being but also through the satisfaction that he or she is more than a good citizen; a good human being. For it is only when each individual reaches the highest state of character will there be economic, social and personal justice that ensures the material and emotional well being of each and every one.


Aristotle. "Nichomachean Ethics." Book II & V. Translated by Ross, W.D.

Injustice: The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language." Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company. Dictionary.com URL:


Justice: Roget's Interactive Thesaurus." First Edition. Lexico Publishing Group, LLC. Dictionary.com URL:


Justice: The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language." Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company. Dictionary.com URL:


Plato. "The Republic (360 B.C.E.)." Book IX. P. 23-27. Translated by Jowett, Benjamin. [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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