Study Guide

The Nicomachean Ethics Book 5, Chapter 2 (1130a14-1131a9)

By Aristotle

Book 5, Chapter 2 (1130a14-1131a9)

  • For now, Aristotle wants to focus on justice as a virtue—and injustice as a vice.
  • Injustice presents itself in two ways: 1) a particular type, that deals with the unequal distribution of goods; 2) a more general type, that involves lawbreaking and all other vices in general.
  • Here's an equation to help: unjust = unlawful + unequal; just = lawful + equal.
  • Aristotle reiterates that "unlawful" and "unequal" are two different categories. Again, "unlawful" is a general category of injustice.
  • "Unequal" is a specific type of unlawfulness. It's a grasping for more of the goods in life (honor, money, security, etc) than we deserve.
  • We can also think of justice in the particular (equality/fairness) or general (lawfulness) sense.
  • Ready for some more hair-splitting? Particular justice can be further split into two forms.
  • The first is distributive (i.e. the proper distribution of goods in a community); the second is corrective, concerning interactions between people.
  • But wait! There's more!
  • Corrective justice can be split into two further categories: voluntary and involuntary transactions/interactions.
  • Aristotle defines voluntary transactions as mostly business ones: buying, selling, lending, etc.
  • Involuntary involve violations, like theft, adultery, assault, rape, death.
  • You know, the really unpleasant stuff that at least one party does not want to be involved in.