Aristotle discusses two types of justice - one, more general justice that concerns having all the virtues, and a second justice concerning how a state should act.

He believes, if I'm not mistaken, in meritocracy. Certain individuals are more deserving of things than others, so justice, as far as states are concerned, does not equal or imply equality.

I'm forming an argument regarding the duties of individuals, so I'm not concerned with his second type of justice, but his first. But given his ideas in the second type of justice, does he also disregard equality in his first individual-based justice?

  • Are you primarily working from the Nicomachean Ethics or the Politics? I believe there are similar discussions in both.
    – virmaior
    May 29, 2016 at 3:37
  • I've been working from his Nicomachean Ethics, but I believe his second justice is described in his Politics, which I have just glanced over.
    – ChemSniper
    May 29, 2016 at 4:26
  • I seem to remember reading some articles related to understanding the two justices about 1 to 2 years ago... I'll try to look for them tomorrow.. / In terms of the politics, I think (low confidence in this memory) there's a section where he specifically explains different ideas people have had of justice and maps it out in more detail. Maybe it's before the constitutions?
    – virmaior
    May 29, 2016 at 4:40

1 Answer 1


Looking at the Nicomachean Ethics the unity of virtues appears to relate directly to the individual based on the repeated phrasing of who's virtue or duty is being described:

(Below emphasis is mine)

Givers, too, are called liberal; but those who do not take are not praised for liberality but rather for justice; while those who take are hardly praised at all. And the liberal are the most of the most loved of all virtuous characters, since they are useful; and this depends on their giving. Now virtuous actions are noble and done for the sake of the noble. Therefore the liberal man, like other virtuous men, will give for the sake of the noble, and rightly; for he will give to the people the right amounts...(See Book 0, 0, p. 54 of Ref)

... and then

If, then as is asserted, the virtues are voluntary (for we are ourselves somehow partly responsible for our own states of character, and it is by being persons of a certain kind that we assume the end be so), the vices also will be voluntary; for the same is true of them. (See Book 4, 1, p. 43 of Ref)

.. and the duty of virtue in society

... but think it their duty 'to give no pain to the people they meet'; while those who on the contrary, oppose everything and do not care a whit about giving pain are called churlish and contentious. (Book 4, 6 p. 66 of Ref)

.. on friendship

What is evil neither nor should be loved; for it is not the one's duty to be a lover of evil, nor to become like what is bad; and we have said that like is dear like. (Book 9, 3, p. 149 of Ref)


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