Aristotle, Law and Justice: The Tragic Hero
Humboldt University of Berlin - Faculty of Law
Northern Kentucky Law Review, Vol. 35, pp. 1-18, 2008
Aristotle was the greatest scientist in western history. He established the scientific paradigm and the instruments thereof (materialism and logic). His work covered all basic sciences: Astronomy, Botany, Logic, Mathematics, Meteorology Philosophy, Psychology and Political Science. Aristotle's conception of justice pervades the law and heavily influenced the Anglo-Saxon court system to this day. Yet, the mark of a hero in Greek tragedy is his tragic flaw. Aristotle was not only a great scientist. He was also racist, sexist and homophobic - he thought slavery was natural and good. This tragic flaw in Aristotle's work has distorted all of western thought since. In order to cure the disease we must understand its origin. This essay describes Aristotle's theory of justice and law in order to explain just how pervasively his thought influenced the common law. We can and should reject the dark shadow of this great scientist whilst enjoying the greater and better part of his work.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 164
Keywords: Aristotle, legal theory, philosophy of law, jurisprudence, justice, theory, theory of justice, distributive justice, geometric justice, arithmetic justice, transactional justice, social justice, ratio
JEL Classification: B3, B30, B31, D63Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: April 30, 2008 ; Last revised: November 13, 2009
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