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Natural Justice: An Aretaic Account of the Virtue of Lawfulness

  • Lawrence B. Solum
Chapter

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Social Norm Virtue Ethic Legal Norm Practical Wisdom Natural Goodness 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    J. L. Mackie, Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1977), ch. 1, sec. 9.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    See William D. Casebeer, Natural Ethical Facts (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2003).Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    See David Brink, Moral Realism and the Foundations of Ethics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 14.
    John Locke, Two Treatises of Government (Peter Laslett ed., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), p. 276.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 21.
    Michael Thompson, The Representation of Life in Virtues and Reasons (Rosalind Hursthouse, Gavin Lawrence, and Warren Quinn eds, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995), corrected version available at http://www.pitt.edu/∿mthompso/1LIFE.doc; The Living Individual and its Kind, 21 Behavioral and Brain Sciences 591–592 (1998); Apprehending Human Formin Modern Moral Philosophy (A. O’Hear ed., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), pp. 47–74, available at http://www.pitt.edu/∿mthompso/ansco652.doc; Michael Thompson, Three Degrees of Natural Goodness, http://www.pitt.edu/∿mthompso/three.doc.Google Scholar
  6. 26.
    Bernard Williams, Justice as a Virtue in Essays on Aristotle’s Ethics (Amélie Oksenberg Rorty ed., Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1980), pp. 196–197.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Colin Farrelly & Lawrence B. Solum 2008

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  • Lawrence B. Solum

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