Aristotle and Moral Realism

By Robert Heinaman | Go to book overview
Save to active project

The twofold natural foundation of justice according to Aristotle1.


I wish to examine Aristotle's theory of justice in the strict sense, with the aim of uncovering its foundations. Book V of the Nicomachean ethics, where this theory is developed at length, possesses a certain autonomy, and my analysis will not refer to other, more general moral theories of Aristotle, such as his views on happiness and virtue. Rather, on the basis of the interpretation of the theory of particular justice I will endeavour to draw more general consequences for the interpretation of Aristotle's ethics and its special characteristics.

The general sense of justice, which I will not be examining in detail here, is the sense according to which "the just man is he who is in conformity with the law" ( 1129a33).2. On the Aristotelian view that asserts that the law (i.e. the civil law) orders what is good, justice taken in this broad sense is coextensive with "the sphere of action of the virtuous man" ( 1130b5), i.e. with the entire domain of morality. Justice in this sense is distinguished from particular virtues at most by the juridically constraining character that it confers on acts born of the particular virtues: thus, one can stay unshaken at one's post in war either from courage or -- if courage fails -- from justice, i.e. by somewhat mechanically observing the law that forbids desertion.

Justice in the guise of legality might appear to be no more than the complement of a morality too weak to be effective on its own. But it also possesses two positive characteristics that make it into a com

Translated by Robert Heinaman from the French original.
Unless otherwise indicated, all references are to the Nicomachean ethics.


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Aristotle and Moral Realism


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 239

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?