Justice: Plato vs. Aristotle Essay

1024 Words5 Pages
Plato and Aristotle, arguably the most important philosophers of their time, both made attempts to define justice. Being that Aristotle was a student of Plato, their ideas share many similarities. Both viewed justice as the harmonious interaction of people in a society. However, Plato defined his ideal of justice with more usage of metaphysics, invoking his Form of the Good, while Aristotle took a more practical approach, speaking in terms of money and balance. Although Aristotle's ideal of justice may seem superior, upon further inspection, Plato's ideal of justice is the stronger.
Plato defines justice in terms of two types, group and individual. Group justice is a type of political justice and Plato identifies political justice as
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It follows that Plato's ideal of justice be exemplified in the philosopher-king, since it is only the philosopher that would have the requisite justice in his soul that would make him a just ruler of a just society. Aristotle presents a more practical definition of justice. Relying less on metaphysics, Aristotle defines justice as the restoration of maintenance of balance. Aristotle breaks down justice into two types, distributive and rectificatory, both dealing with some measure of balance. Distributive justice deals with the distribution of some good, such as wealth, among members of a community. Distribution is done according to what a person deserves, a good person receiving more than a bad person. Rectificatory justice is the restoration of balance when an unequal distribution has occurred. For Aristotle, justice is a virtue but unlike the other virtues he discusses in his Ethics. Whereas each virtue was defined as the mean between two vices, justice is not the mean of two vices since injustice, the opposite of justice, is but only one extreme. Justice is the mean state of people having what they deserve. Injustice occurs when people have either too much or too little. Following Aristotle's definition of justice, a theft of one hundred dollars would result in the thief's gain of one hundred dollars and the victim's equal and unjust loss of one hundred dollars. Looking at a

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