Justice in Friendship (NE VIII–IX)

Howard J. Curzer

in Aristotle and the Virtues

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199693726
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738890 | DOI:
Justice in Friendship (NE VIII–IX)

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Aristotle defines justice only within friendships. Thus, Aristotle does not recognize human rights to a fair share of resources, or a fair compensation for injury, or a fair price for goods. People’s deserts do not derive from their bare humanity, but only from their participation in friendships. The good news is that Aristotle’s account of friendship fleshes out what is meant by “equals” and “unequals” in his principles of distributive, rectificatory, and reciprocal justice. Each friendship is a relationship of mutual cooperation aimed at a common goal which generates common values. Goods are valuable insofar as they are part of, or promote the goal. Friends who make equal contributions with respect to the values of a friendship are equal people, and are entitled to equal amounts of what is valuable within that friendship. Unequal contributors are unequal people, and are entitled to proportionately unequal benefits.

Keywords: justice; friendship; equal contribution; equals; unequals

Chapter.  7326 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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