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a law to appeal to, and the existence of law implies the existence of injustice; for the
administration of the law is the discrimination of what is just from what is unjust.
But injustice implies an act of injustice (though an act of injustice does not always
imply injustice) which is taking too much of the goods and too little of the evils of
life. And so we do not allow an individual to rule over us, but reason or law; for an
individual is apt thus to take more for himself, and to become a tyrant.
The magistrate s function, then, is to secure that which is just, and if that which is
just, then that which is equal or fair. But it seems that he gets no advantage from his
office, if he is just (for he does not take a larger share of the good things of life,
except when that larger share is proportionate to his worth; he works, therefore, in the
interests of others, which is the reason why justice is sometimes called  another s
good, as we remarked before).* Some salary, therefore, must be given him, and this
he receives in the shape of honours and privileges; and it is when magistrates are not
content with these that they make themselves tyrants.
That which is just as between master and slave, or between father and child, is not the
same as this, though like. We cannot speak (without qualification) of injustice towards
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what is part of one s self and a man s chattels and his children (until they are of a
certain age and are separated from their parent) are as it were a part of him for no
one deliberately chooses to injure himself; so that a man cannot be unjust towards
We cannot speak in this case, then, of that which is unjust, or of that which is just as
between citizens; for that, we found, is according to law, and subsists between those
whose situation implies law, i.e., as we found, those who participate equally or fairly
in governing and being governed.
The term just, therefore, is more appropriate to a man s relations to his wife than to
his relations to his children and his chattels, and we do speak in this sense of that
which is just in a family; but even this is not the same as that which is just between
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It Is In Part Natural, In Part Conventional.
Now, of that which is just as between citizens, part is natural, part is conventional.
That is natural which has the same validity everywhere, and does not depend on our
accepting or rejecting it; that is conventional which at the outset may be determined in
this way or in that indifferently, but which when once determined is no longer
indifferent; e.g. that a man s ransom be a mina, or that a sacrifice consist of a goat and
not of two sheep; and, again, those ordinances which are made for special occasions,
such as the sacrifice to Brasidas [at Amphipolis], and all ordinances that are of the
nature of a decree.
Now, there are people who think that what is just is always conventional, because that
which is natural is invariable, and has the same validity everywhere, as fire burns here
and in Persia, while that which is just is seen to be not invariable.
But this is not altogether true, though it is true in a way. Among the gods, indeed, we
may venture to say it is not true at all; but of that which is just among us part is
natural, though all is subject to change. Though all is subject to change, nevertheless,
I repeat, part is natural and part not.
Nor is it hard to distinguish, among things that may be other than they are, that which
is natural from that which is not natural but dependent on law or convention, though
both are alike variable. In other fields we can draw the same distinction; we say, for
instance, that the right hand is naturally the stronger, though in any man the left may
become equally strong.
And so, of that which is just, that part which is conventional and prescribed with a
view to a particular end* varies as measures vary; for the measures of wine and of
corn are not everywhere the same, but larger where the dealers buy, and smaller
where they sell. So I say that which is just not by nature but merely by human
ordinance is not the same everywhere, any more than constitutions are everywhere the
same, though there is but one constitution that is naturally the best everywhere.
The terms  just and  lawful in each of their several senses stand for universal
notions which embrace a number of particulars; i.e. the acts are many, but the notion
is one, for it is applied to all alike.
 That which is unjust, we must notice, is different from  an act of injustice, and
 that which is just from  an act of justice: for a thing is unjust either by nature or by
ordinance; but this same thing when done is called  an act of injustice, though before
it was done it could only be called unjust. And so with  an act of justice ();
though in the latter case we rather employ  as the generic term, and
restrict  to the correction of an act of injustice. But as to the several species
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of acts of justice and injustice, we must postpone for the present the inquiry into their
nature and number and the ground which they cover.
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The Internal Conditions Of A Just Or Unjust Action, And Of A
Just Or Unjust Agent.
Now that we have ascertained what is just and what is unjust, we may say that a man
acts unjustly or justly when he does these things voluntarily; but when he does them
involuntarily, he does not, strictly speaking, act either unjustly or justly, but only
 accidentally, i.e. he does a thing which happens to be just or unjust.* For whether
an act is or is not to be called an act of injustice (or of justice) depends upon whether
it is voluntary or involuntary; for if it be voluntary the agent is blamed, and at the
same time the act becomes an act of injustice: so something unjust may be done, and
yet it may not be an act of injustice, i.e. if this condition of voluntariness be absent.
By a voluntary act I mean, as I explained before, anything which, being within the
doer s control, is done knowingly (i.e. with knowledge of the person, the instrument,
and the result; e.g. the person whom and the instrument with which he is striking, and
the effect of the blow), without the intervention at any point of accident or constraint;
e.g. if another take your hand and with it strike a third person, that is not a voluntary
act of yours, for it was not within your control; again, the man you strike may be your [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]


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