Justice as a Virtue

When we speak of justice as a virtue, we are usually referring to a trait of individuals, even if we conceive the justice of individuals as having some (grounding) reference to social justice. But Rawls and others regard justice as "the first virtue of social institutions" so "justice as a virtue" is actually ambiguous as between individual and social applications. I think man, by his very nature, is a social being. In living out his life he tends to be in contact with and dependent on other fellow humans. This contact and dependence will involve many relationships with others which necessitate the recognition of rights and obligations that must be protected and regulated, if man is to live in peace and harmony with his fellow men. The virtue that controls and regulates man's dealing with others in this regard is the virtue of justice. This virtue is as wide in its scope as the extent of human activities, and as varied in its application as human life itself. Adequate treatment of this virtue would fill huge volumes, so this can be but the briefest summary. St. Thomas Aquinas defines the virtue of justice as a constant and perpetual will to render to everyone his due. From that definition you can see that it is a virtue that resides in the will and regulate we are strictly bound to discharge towards out neighbor. For this reason the habitual practice of justice - the constant rendering to others their due is an excellent training of the will, for it brings the will under the guidance of reason enlightened by faith instead of our self-seeking inclinations. And on the contrary, on who is dominated by egoism and self-will will often fail to render to others their due. I think that this sums up the article i read about justice as a virtue.

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