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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,

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.

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