Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Justice, Theories of
Justice, on the classical view, is a virtue; specifically, it is a disposition to give each person his or her due. Naturally, there has always been some difference of opinion as to what, exactly, is due to whom under which conditions. The most influential account has probably been that offered by Aristotle in his Nicomachean Ethics. Distinguishing justice in distribution from justice in rectification, he argues that in the former case, goods are justly distributed according to the proportionate merit of the recipients, and that in the latter case, just punishments and compensations are proportionate to injuries caused. The virtue of justice can thus be understood as a state of character that disposes people to act justly and wish for what is just, so defined. It is important to observe that this duty of justice (as it is now often called) does not cover the whole range of our practical ...