Justice in Aristotle’s Household and City

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Abstract
In Nicomachean Ethics V.6 Aristotle contrasts political justice with household justice, paternal justice, and despotic justice. My paper expands upon Aristotle’s sometimes enigmatic remarks about political justice through an examination of his account of justice within the oikia or ‘household’. Understanding political justice requires explicating the concepts of freedom and equality, but for Aristotle, the children and wife within the household are free people even if not citizens, and there exists proportionate equality between a husband and wife. Additionally, Aristotle’s articulation and defence of political justice arises out of his examination of despotic justice in the first book of the Politics. Not only are the polis and the oikia similar insofar as they are associations, but Nicomachean Ethics VIII.9–11 suggests they are even isomorphic with respect to justice and friendship. Thus, in this paper I explore the relationships between father and son, husband and wife, master and slave, and between siblings in order to see what they tell us about Aristotle’s understanding of freedom, equality, and justice.
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Archival date: 2021-03-20
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