n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Aristotle's approach on justice and friendship : food for modern criminological thought

Volume 13, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



One of the great virtues of Aristotle's discussion of justice was his attempt to distinguish the more important meanings of the word. As Aristotle saw it, a person can be said to be just in two quite different senses. The first of these, universal justice, is coextensive with the whole of righteousness, with the whole of virtue. A person is just in the universal sense if he possesses all the proper virtues, if he is moral, if he keeps the laws, which Aristotle thought should agree with virtuous behaviour. But Aristotle recognized that "justice" may also be used in the sense of particular justice. In this particular sense, a man is just if he treats other people fairly, if he does not grasp after more than he is due. Aristotle distinguishes three kinds of particular justice namely (a) commercial justice, (eg. Interpersonal relations involving economic exchanges raise questions of this particular type of justice) (b) remedial justice (eg. Instances where some wrong must be made right under either criminal or civil law are occasions for remedial justice) and (c) distributive justice (eg. questions about this type of justice arise in situations where some good or some burden is apportioned among human beings).

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