Encyclopedia of Renaissance Philosophy

Living Edition
| Editors: Marco Sgarbi


  • Thomas J. KuehnEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-02848-4_201-1


The classical ideal of justice remained vibrant in the Middle Ages because it was embodied in the surviving texts of Roman law, the Corpus Iuris Civilis. From there, it entered canon law, where it gained strength from its association with the divine giver of justice. Justice in the classical tradition was an ideal of distributive justice, a socially fair allocation of things, rendering to each his due. It was an ideal ostensibly linked to outcomes, independent of process. Ideal and practice were never necessarily coincident, however, and it was along that fissure that humanist critiques of law and its practitioners, beginning with Petrarch (20 July 1304–19 July 1374), launched largely ethical arguments. Justice, itself an ethical construct, was being lost, said humanists, in procedural delays and cascades of citations and references, and in bad Latin, that seemingly served only to line the pockets of lawyers, judges, and notaries.


Distributive Justice Terra Firma Transcendent Principle Textual Gloss Roman Court 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Clemson UniversityClemsonUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • David A. Lines
    • 1
  1. 1.Italian Studies, School of Modern Languages and CulturesUniversity of WarwickCoventryUnited Kingdom