Natural Justice: An Aretaic Account of the Virtue of Lawfulness

  • Lawrence B. Solum


Let me start with the heart of the matter. Justice is a natural virtue. Well-functioning humans are just, as are well-ordered human societies. Roughly, this means that in a well-ordered society, just humans internalize the laws and social norms (the nomoi)—they internalize lawfulness as a disposition that guides the way they relate to other humans. In societies that are mostly well ordered, with isolated zones of substantial dysfunction, the nomoi are limited to those norms that are not clearly inconsistent with the function of law—to create the conditions for human flourishing. In a radically dysfunctional society, humans are thrown back on their own resources—doing the best they can in circumstances that may require great practical wisdom to avoid evil and achieve good. Justice is naturally good for humans—it is part and partial of human flourishing. All of these are natural ethical facts.


Social Norm Virtue Ethic Legal Norm Practical Wisdom Natural Goodness 
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© Colin Farrelly & Lawrence B. Solum 2008

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  • Lawrence B. Solum

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