Morals and Law: The Growth of Aristotle's Legal Theory

Morals and Law: The Growth of Aristotle's Legal Theory

Morals and Law: The Growth of Aristotle's Legal Theory

Morals and Law: The Growth of Aristotle's Legal Theory

Excerpt

"The distinction drawn in our legal system between justice and equity owes its precise form to a variety of historical facts, but is to a large extent derived from Aristotle's conception, transmitted through the Roman lawyers."

SIR DAVID ROSS

As a new edition of this work has been called for, I may be allowed to add some remarks to the preface of the first edition. MORALS AND LAW, the title of this book, almost literally renders Aristotle's own description of the subject matter of his Ethics and Politics, his politikê, "which investigates Moral Nobility (TA KALA) and Justice (TA DIKAIA)."

The "Moralizing of Law" in Greek (here Aristotelian) thought has been succinctly contrasted to the trend in Roman thought:

"If the Greek strove to moralize law, the Roman legalized morality."

This statement aptly anticipates the possible results of our analysis of Aristotle's achievements in the special fields of legal and political philosophy of which the following deserve particular mention:

(1) The differentiation of Distributive Justice, Rectificatory Justice and Justice in Exchange on the one hand, and the definitions of Municipal, Natural and International Law, and of Written, Unwritten, Statutory and Customary Law, on the other; (2) His exemplary formulation and definition of EPIEIKEIA (equity, fair reasonableness); (3) The definition of the good and honest man (HO SPOUDAIOS) as the measure of . . .

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