What is Justice?

Justice is the quality of being just or fair and in other words, a reference to the fairness and legality in the way people are treated by others. Several philosophers tried to find the definition of justice and approached different answers. Likewise, St. Thomas Aquinas had tried to explain what justice is and whether it is about passions, or about operations. He considered justice as a virtue, moreover, it is a general virtue and chief of the moral virtues. This essay discusses whether justice is concerned with actions or emotions and is it different from other virtues.

Justice is concerned with actions, not passions and it is the most important virtue. I am going to prove it with refer to Aquinas' "Summa Theologica" 's Articulus 1, 3, 5, 9, 12 and give some actual examples to support his ideas. Justice is rendering to each one his right. Aquinas claims that "justice is a habit according to which someone has a constant and perpetual will to render to each his rights" (p. 170) formed through actions and experience. He supports his ideas with Aristotle's words "justice is a habit whereby a man is said to be capable of doing just actions in accordance with his choice. "(Ethic.

v , 5). Telemez 2 A human virtue is one which renders a human act and man himself good, and this can applied to justice. A human virtue is what we produce good and we attain a good through "reason". Aquinas claims that, "justice [is a rule of reason] regulates human acts , it is clear that it renders a man's work good"(p. 174). For him, justice is done out of necessity and there is two kinds of necessity(p. 174) one is from constraint, forced by unnatural thing and the other one is from an obligation of a command but it do not remove the merit. "Particular justice excels the other moral virtues for two reasons.

The first reason may be taken from the subject, because justice is in the more excellent part of the soul, viz. the rational appetite or will, Where as the other moral virtues are in the sensitive appetite, whereunto appertain the passions which are matter of the other moral virtues. The second reason is taken from the object, because the other virtues commendable in respect of the sole good of the virtuous person himself, whereas justice is praiseworthy in respect of the virtuous person being well disposed towards another. "(p. 191). So, he considers justice as a chief of the moral virtues.

Aquinas thinks that justice is a general virtue. He claims that, "justice can direct his relations with others as individuals; on the other, it can direct his relations with others considered as members of a community, inasmuch, that is, as he who serves a community serves all the men who are included in that community. "(p. 177) In this sense justice is called a general virtue. Since it belongs to the law to direct to the common good, it follows that the justice which in this way styled general, is called 'legal justice' because Telemez 3 thereby man is in harmony with the law which directs the acts of all the virtues to the common good.

Justice is concerned with actions. For Aquinas, justice is not about the passions. There are two sources to answer this question. First is from the subject of justice. "For it only the sensitive apetite whose movements are called passions. Justice is not about the passions, as are temperance and fortitude, which are in the irascible and concupiscible. "(p. 185) Secondly, from its field of concern, "justice is about man's relations with another, and we are not directed immediately to another by the internal passions that we are immediately directedin our relations with another"(p.185)

Therefore, it is not about the passions. Pleasure and pain are the principle end in respect of which we say that is good and that is evil. In Objection 1, Aquinas comments on Aristotle's ideas that " moral virtue is about pleasure and pains". (p. 185) For him, not every moral virtue is about pleasure and pain as its proper matter, since fortitude is about fear and daring; but every moral virtue is directed to pleasure and pain, as to end to be acquired like Aristotle says "pleasure and pain are the principle end in respect of which we say that this is evil, and that a good",(p.185 – 186) and in this way too, thay belong to justice.

He also mentions that " a man is not just unless he rejoice in just actions". (p. 186)For example, when you are walking on the street, you found a wallet and in that wallet you find the owner's adress and such money can pay your credit card bills. You need that money because it is near the end of the month and you do not have money to pay your cards. Will you think that Telemez 4 the good fortune comes in front of you or will you think the owner of the wallet is in the same position as you and in need of money?

If you think that you will suffer when you bring back the wallet to the owner of the wallet, you are not a just person because you intend to bring that money. Aquinas agrees Aristotle in some extend, he accept that pleasure and pain are the principle end in respect of which we say that this is evil and this is good. We do something and then we decide the action is good or not, and this desicion gives us pleasure or pain. For example you are a business-man whose firm is in a bad position and in this position you enter an awarding with a low price.

After the results will be declared, you may feel pleasure if your low price is accepted, but you may feel pain, if your price is not accepted and you go bankrupt. After the results, you consider the action to enter to the awarding whether good or evil. The directing of operations in so far as they tend towards external things belongs to justice, but in so far as they arise from the passions, it belong to the other moral virues which are about the passions. In Objection 2, Aquinas comments on the argument which writes "justice is the means of rectifying a man's operations in relation to another.

Now such like operations cannot be rectified unless the passions be rectified, because it's owing to disorder of passions that there is disorder in the aforesaid operations: thus sexual lust leads to and overmuch love of money leads to theft. "(p. 185) He thinks that, external operations are as it were between external things, which are their matter, and internal passions, which are their origin. It happens sometimes that there is a defect in one Telemez 5 of these, without there being a defect in the other. A man may covet another's property without wishing to steal it.

Then he summarizes his argument that "Accordingly the directing of operations in so far as they tend towards external things, belongs to justice, but in so far as they arise from the passions, it belong to the other moral virtues which are about passions"(p. 186) In example, consider that you are the business-man 'A' and you don't like the business-man 'B'. 'B' tends to start a job, and when you heard it you covet this job too and start this job earlier than 'B'. You don't need this job, but the reason is hurting 'B'. Another example is also related with business life.

Your firm is in a good position which is different from your opponent. Your opponent has a quality employee and he is the only one who keep your opponent's firm existing. You offered this employee a high wage to transfer it but you do not need him to make things better. You only consider your opponent go bankrupt. I think, these two examples are not moral because hurting someone just do not loving him is injustice action. Legal justice is directed to the common good and particular justice is directed to the good of another individual. According to St.

Thomas Aquinas in Objection 3, it says that " Even as particular justice is towards another person so is legal justice. Now legal justice is about the passions, else it would not extend to all virtues, some of which are evidently about the passions. "(p. 185) He replies that "The common good is the end of each individual of a community. On the other hand, the good of one individual is not the end of another individual. Therefore legal justice is directed to the common good, is more capable of extending to the internal passions whereby man is disposed in someway or Telemez 6

other in himself, than particular justice which is directed to the good of another individual. "(p. 186) For example, your teacher gives you a group work and you will get your final degree by this work. You work hard as much as you can and force your friend to work because your degree is also depends on this work. But your teacher gives your mark depends on your own work, you do not worry about your friends work. So, your passion of getting a high degree will affect the common good more than your friend and we can accept that legal justice is about the common good.

It is not a just action too because you do not think the common good, just your personal interest. In another example, you are soccer player whose team is near to be the champion of the league. You board of directors offer your team incentive payement your forthcoming match because if you win this game, you will guarantee your championship. While the match started, if you play a egoistic game in order to be a 'hero' at the end of the season, and not give respect to style of formation, you do not think and not give importance of common good, just your passion of being the 'man of the year'.

Both actions are no relevant to the common good and it is against the legal justice. These examples prove that actions are important in order to be a just person. In conclusion, St. Thomas Aquinas states that justice is concerned with actions not passions, and it is the most important moral virtue at all.