The Relationship Between Justice And Friendship In Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics

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In his Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle works to foster a more precise understanding of complex ideas including justice and friendship. Of course, he assigns varying levels of importance to qualities depending on how necessary they are to becoming a happy and self-sufficient individual, which he sees as the ultimate aim for human beings. As such, he seems to create a hierarchical structure in which aspects that push an individual closer to happiness are effectively superior to those which do not. Yet, as he develops the ideas of friendship and justice more, dividing them into their constituent categories, the hierarchy between them begins to become more obscured, suggesting that, rather than the two existing in service of one or the other, the…show more content…
This is particularly interesting with reference to the aforementioned passage, as there is no reference to which form of justice Aristotle is referring when he says “when men are friends they have no need of justice” (Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 1155a). Earlier in the text, Aristotle delineates two forms of justice: a justice that is “a part of virtue”, or “particular justice”, and a justice “that is not part of virtue but the whole of virtue [...] but their essence is not the same” (Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 1130a-b). The second form of justice is a more universal form of justice, differentiated from virtue as the exterior consequence of an interior quality of being virtuous. When Aristotle says that “when men are friends they have no need of justice”, he is likely referring to the first form of justice, the particular justice, which is itself broken down into four other types: distributive, rectificatory, reciprocal and equity. All four of these types of justices explain how it is that people should engage in transactions with one another, and how these transactions and engagements should be corrected. When people are friends, the idea that they have no need for justice simply means there is no need for a corrective form of justice, as all transactions made between friends—individuals who share concern and wish well-being for one another—should innately be done in a just fashion. Aristotle does not suggest that “when men are friends they have no need for [universal] justice”, nor does he suggest that abiding by the particular form of justice is unnecessary in the basest forms of

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