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Book 5

1. In regard to Justice1 and Injustice, we have to enquire what sort of actions precisely they are concerned with, in what sense Justice is the observance of a mean, and what are the extremes between which that which is just is a mean. 1. [2] Our enquiry may follow the same procedure as our preceding investigations.1. [3]

Now we observe that everybody means by Justice that moral disposition which renders men apt to do just things, and which causes them to act justly and to wish what is just; and similarly by Injustice that disposition which makes men act unjustly and wish what is unjust. Let us then assume this definition to start with as broadly correct.1. [4]

The fact is that it is not the same with dispositions as with sciences and faculties. It seems that the same faculty or science deals with opposite things2; but a disposition or condition which produces a certain result does not also produce the opposite results; for example, health does not give rise to unhealthy actions, but only to healthy ones: healthy walking means walking as a healthy man would walk.3 1. [5]

Hence4 sometimes the nature of one of two opposite dispositions is inferred from the other, sometimes dispositions are known from the things in which they are found; for instance, if we know what good bodily condition is, we know from this what bad condition is as well, but we also know what good condition is from bodies in good condition, and know what bodies are in good condition from knowing what good condition is. Thus, supposing good condition is firmness of flesh, bad condition must be flabbiness of flesh, and a diet productive of good condition5 must be a diet producing firmness of flesh.1. [6]

Also, if one of two correlative groups of words is used in several senses, it follows as a rule that the other is used in several senses too: for example, if ‘just’ has more than one meaning, so also has ‘unjust’ and ‘Injustice.’ 1. [7] Now it appears that the terms Justice and Injustice are used in several senses, but as the equivocal uses are closely connected, the equivocation is not detected; whereas in the case of widely different things called by a common name, the equivocation is comparatively obvious: for example (the difference being considerable when it is one of external form), the equivocal use of the word kleis (key) to denote both the bone6 at the base of the neck and the instrument with which we lock our doors.1. [8]

Let us then ascertain in how many senses a man is said to be ‘unjust.’ Now the term ‘unjust’ is held to apply both to the man who breaks the law and the man who takes more than his due, the unfair7 man. Hence it is clear that the law-abiding man and the fair man will both be just. ‘The just’ therefore means that which is lawful and that which is equal or fair, and ‘the unjust’ means that which is illegal and that which is unequal or unfair.

1 In what follows δικαιοσύνη is found to possess both the wider meaning of Righteousness in general, covering all right conduct in relation to others, and the narrower sense of the virtue of right conduct in relation to others where gain or loss (whether to the agent or to other parties) is involved. δικαιοσύνη in this narrower sense is the special Moral Virtue which is the subject of Book 5; it would be described in English sometimes as Justice, sometimes as Honesty or uprightness. The related adjectives and verbs have various connotations connected with the various meanings of δικαιοσύνη both in its wider and in its narrower usage. For instance, τὰ δίκαια means sometimes ‘just acts’ in the English sense, sometimes any acts in conformity with the law, sometimes ‘rights’ or ‘claims,’ i.e., any consideration which by law, equity, or custom, certain persons have a right to expect from certain others. Or again ἀδικεῖν means not only to act unjustly, or dishonestly, but also to do, or have done, any wrongful injury to another, or any wrongful or illegal act, and so, as a legal term, to be guilty of a breach of the law. In translating however, if the connection of all these various meanings in the writer's mind is to be represented, it seems necessary to keep the words ‘justice,’ ‘injustice,’ etc., throughout, in spite of their occasional unsuitability to the context.

2 For instance, medicine studies both health and disease. Cf. 9.16.

3 i.e., it does not also mean walking lame.

4 Because a faculty or science is the same for opposite things.

5 Literally ‘that which has to do with good condition’: the word here slightly shifts its meaning, for just above it meant ‘that which is in good condition.’

6 The clavicle (clavis, a key), or collar-bone.

7 The word ἴσος means both ‘equal’ and ‘equitable’ or ‘fair.’

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