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 ETHICS in plain language (book5.1)

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jaebaeli
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PostSubject: ETHICS in plain language (book5.1)   Wed 09 Jan 2008, 9:38 pm

19 March, 2000
Author: George Irbe

ARISTOTLE'S NICOMACHEAN ETHICS

Translators:
TI- Terence Irwin, Hackett Publishing Co.1985
DR - David Ross, Oxford University Press 1980
JT - J.A.K. Thomson, Penguin Books 1955


BOOK 5.1


Text Remarks [td]]
[TI, DR] The state everyone means in speaking of justice is the state that makes us doers of just actions, that makes us do justice and wish what is just; and similarly by injustice that state which makes us act unjustly and wish for what is unjust. When do we have justice and when injustice.
[TI, DR] Since the unjust man is greedy, he will be concerned with goods -- not with all goods, but only with those involved in good
and bad fortune, goods which are considered unconditionally, always good, but for a particular person are not always good. Though human beings pray for these and pursue them, they are wrong; the right thing is to pray that what is good absolutely may also be good for them, and should chose things that are truly good for them.
People should wish only for goods that are truly good for them.
[TI] In every matter they deal with, the laws aim either at the common benefit of all, or at the benefit of those in control, whose control rests on virtue or on some other such basis. And so in one way what we call just is whatever produces and maintains happiness and its parts for a political community. Laws are instituted to promote the happiness in a community.
[JT] Besides this, the law enjoins brave conduct, and temperate conduct, and patient conduct. Similarly with all other forms of
goodness and wickedness, the law commands some kinds of behaviour and forbids others; rightly if the law is rightly enacted, but not so well if it is an improvised measure.
Good laws must be enacted to promote good conduct and discourage bad conduct.
[DR, JT] This form of justice, then, is
complete virtue; virtue, however, not unqualified but in relation to somebody else. And therefore justice is often thought to be the greatest of virtues. It is complete virtue in the fullest sense, because it is the actual exercise of complete virtue.
Real justice is complete virtue.
[TI] This type of justice, then, is the
whole, not a part, of virtue, and the injustice contrary to it is the whole,
not a part, of vice.
Injustice is complete vice.
[JT] It is clear, from what we have said, what the difference is between virtue and justice in this sense: that which, considered in relation to somebody else, is justice, when considered simply as a certain kind of moral state is virtue. Relationship between justice
and virtue.
[TI, JT] - When one acts from greed, in many cases his action expresses none of [the] vices -- certainly not all of them; yet what actuates him is certainly some kind of wickedness, since we blame him, and in particular it expresses injustice. If the offender has profited from his offence, it is attributed to injustice and to no other wickedness. Profiting from wrongful acts
motivated by greed is unjust.
[JT] We have distinguished two senses of unjust, viz., unlawful and unfair, and two of just, viz., lawful and fair. Now injustice in the sense described above corresponds to unlawful; and since the unfair and the unlawful are not the same, but differ as part and whole do (because everything that is unfair is unlawful, but not everything that is unlawful is unfair); so also the unjust and
injustice in this sense are not the same as, but differ from, those in the former sense, being related to them as parts to wholes; and the two kinds of justice are similarly related.
Relationship between unlawful
and lawful, unfair and fair.
[DR] And how the meanings of 'just' and 'unjust' which answer to these are to be distinguished is evident; for practically the majority of the acts commanded by the law are those which are prescribed from the point of view of virtue taken as a whole; for the law bids us practice every virtue and forbids us to practice any vice. And the things that tend to produce virtue taken as a whole are those of the acts prescribed by the law which have been prescribed with a view to education for the common good. But with regard to education of the individual as such, which makes him without qualification a good man, we must determine later whether this is the function of the political art or of another. The law is based on virtue
as a whole
.
[DR, TI] Of particular justice and that
which is just in the corresponding sense, one species is found in the distribution of honours or wealth or anything else that can be divided among members of a community who share in a political system; for here it is possible for one member to have a share equal or unequal to another's. Another species is that which plays a rectifying part in transactions between man and man. This species has two parts, since one sort of transaction is voluntary, and one involuntary. Voluntary transactions include selling,
buying, lending, pledging, renting, depositing, hiring out -- these are called voluntary because the origin of these transactions is voluntary. Some involuntary ones are clandestine, such as theft, adultery, poisoning, procuring, enticement of slaves, assassination, false witness; others are violent, such as assault, imprisonment, murder, robbery with violence, mutilation, abuse, insult.
The role of justice in society.
[JT] Both the unjust man and the unjust act are unfair or unequal, and clearly in each case of inequality there is something intermediate, viz., that which is equal; because in any action that admits degrees of more or less there is also an equal. Then if what is unjust is unequal, what is just is equal; as is universally accepted even without the support of argument. And since what is equal is a mean, what is just will be a sort of mean. So a just act necessarily involves at least four terms: two persons for whom it is in fact just, and two shares in which its justice is exhibited. And there will be the same equality between the shares as between the persons, because the shares will be in the same ratio to one another as the persons; for if the persons are not equal, they will not have equal shares; and it is when equals have or are assigned unequal shares, or people who are not equal, equal shares, that quarrels and complaints break out. Justice arbitrates between
individuals on the basis of equitability, not absolute equality.
[TI] This is also clear from considering what fits a person's worth. For everyone agrees that what is just in distributions must fit some sort of worth, but what they call worth is not the same; supporters of democracy say it is free citizenship, some supporters of oligarchy say it is wealth, others good birth, while supporters of aristocracy say it is virtue. There are different opinions on what should be the standard for determining a person's worth.
[DR] It makes no difference whether a good man has defrauded a bad man or a bad man a good one, nor whether it is a good or a bad man that has committed adultery; the law looks only to the distinctive character of the injury, and treats the parties as equal. Corrective justice will be the intermediate between loss and gain. The law does not grant preferential
treatment to anyone.







_________________

INSERT a pithy quotation or credo that attempts to illustrate my superior intellect and profound ethical character, and seeks to encourage you to explore new ideas, understand the inexplicable, reject the nonsensical, and appreciate my scathing wit HERE (c) kjb

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PostSubject: ETHICS in plain language (book5.2)   Wed 09 Jan 2008, 9:50 pm

ARISTOTLE'S NICOMACHEAN ETHICS


BOOK 5.2

[TI, DR] The state everyone means in speaking of justice is the state that makes us doers of just actions, that makes us do
justice and wish what is just; and similarly by injustice that state which makes us act unjustly and wish for what is unjust.
When do we have justice and when injustice.
[TI, DR] The law does not grant preferential
treatment to anyone.
[JT, DR] We have now described what justice and injustice are. It is plain that just action is intermediate between acting unjustly and being unjustly treated; for the one is to have too much and the other to have too little. And justice is a sort of mean state, only not in the same way as the other virtues are, but because it aims at a mean, whereas injustice aims at the extremes. And justice is that state of virtue of which a just man is said to be capable of doing just acts from choice. Injustice, on the contrary, is a state that chooses what is unjust, which is excess and defect, contrary to proportion. Justice is a mean between the excesses of the unjust -- between acting and being acted upon unjustly. A just
man does just acts by choice, the bad man chooses to do unjust acts.
[DR, JT] What we are looking for is not only what is just without qualification but also political justice. Political justice obtains
between those who share life for the satisfaction of their needs as persons free and equal, either arithmetically or proportionately. Hence in associations where these conditions are not present there is no political justice between the members, but only a sort of approximation to justice. Justice exists only between men whose mutual relations are governed by law; and law exists for men between whom there is injustice; for legal justice is the discrimination of the just and the unjust.
The rule of law is the foundation of social order and preserver of men's freedom. This thesis has been made famous by John Locke in his Two Treatises of Government.
[TI, DR] This is why we allow only reason, not a human being, to be ruler; for a human being awards himself too many goods and becomes a tyrant. The magistrate on the other hand is the guardian of justice, and, if of justice, then of equality also. Therefore a reward must be given him, and this is honour and privilege; but those for whom such things are not enough become tyrants. Reason must rule in law. Beware of magistrates who may become tyrants.
[JT] There are two sorts of political justice, one natural and the other legal. The natural is that which has the same validity
everywhere and does not depend upon acceptance; the legal is that which in the first place can take one form or another indifferently, but which, once laid down, is decisive.
One kind of political justice is like natural law -- it is universal. The other is made by men and takes precedence over the natural one.
[DR] The things which are just not by nature but by human enactment are not everywhere the same, since constitutions also are not the same, though there is but one which is everywhere by nature the best. Positive (man-made) law differs from country to country, but the universal natural law is the best.
[DR] A man acts unjustly or justly whenever he does such acts voluntarily. By the voluntary I mean any of the things in a man's own power which he does with knowledge, i.e. not in ignorance either of the person acted on or of the instrument used or of the end that will be attained. A man is guilty of an unjust act if he understands that he is committing one.
[DR] There are three kinds of injury in transactions between man and man; those done in ignorance are mistakes when the person acted on, the act, the instrument, or the end that will be attained is other than the agent supposed. When the injury takes place contrary to reasonable expectation, it is a misadventure. When it is not contrary to reasonable expectation but does not imply vice, it is a mistake. When [a man] acts with knowledge but not after due deliberation, it is an act of injustice - e.g. the acts due to anger or to other passions necessary or natural to man. When a man acts from choice, he is an unjust man and a vicious man. Understanding of the three ways of
incurring injury is the very same today: by misadventure, by mistake, in a moment of passion, by premeditation. Deliberate, premeditated harm is done by the unjust and vicious person.
[JT] Involuntary acts are either pardonable or unpardonable. Mistakes committed not only in ignorance but as a result of ignorance are pardonable; those that are committed in ignorance but are due not to ignorance but to an unnatural and sub-human reaction are unpardonable. Judging of involuntary acts.
[JT] Just acts take place between persons who have a share of things generally good, and for whom that share may be too large or too small. Persons who are content with their
lot can reach equitable agreement.
[JT, DR] Justice and equity are neither absolutely identical nor generically different. It seems strange if the equitable, being
something different from the just, is yet praiseworthy; for either the just or the equitable is no good, if they are different; or, if both are good, they are the same.
The dilemma of the just and the equitable.
[JT, TI, DR] Justice and equity coincide, and although both are good, equity is superior. What causes the difficulty is the fact
that what is decent is just, but is not what is legally just, but a rectification of it. The reason is that all law is universal, but in some areas no universal rule can be correct. The law is none the less right; because the error lies not in the law nor in the
legislator, but in the nature of the case. Hence the equitable is just, and better than one kind of justice -- not better than absolute justice, but better than the error that arises from the absoluteness of the statement. And this is the nature of the equitable, a correction of law where it is defective owing to universality.
Exceptional cases always arise where the decision by legislated law goes contrary to what is equitable. The equitable decision is then the just one to uphold.
[JT] This also makes it plain what the equitable man is. He is one who chooses and does equitable acts, and is not unduly insistent upon his rights, but accepts less than his share, although he has the law on his side. The equitable man does not always insist on the letter of the law being followed, if doing so causes natural injustice to others.

_________________

INSERT a pithy quotation or credo that attempts to illustrate my superior intellect and profound ethical character, and seeks to encourage you to explore new ideas, understand the inexplicable, reject the nonsensical, and appreciate my scathing wit HERE (c) kjb

My Photos
http://s225.photobucket.com/albums/dd69/jaebaeli/
My Blogs http://SynapticCircus.blogspot.com
http://usedbythemuse.blogspot.com
My Books, http://jaebaeli.com
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