Epicurean Justice

Phronesis, Vol. 42, pp. 324–334, 1997

15 Pages Posted: 18 Jul 2010 Last revised: 6 Dec 2015

Date Written: 1997


Epicurus (341–270 B.C.) is one of the first social contract theorists, holding that justice is an agreement neither to harm nor be harmed. He also says that living justly is necessary and sufficient for living pleasantly, which is the Epicurean goal. Some say that there are two accounts of justice in Epicurus — one as a personal virtue, the other as a virtue of institutions. I argue that the personal virtue derives from compliance with just social institutions, and so we need to attribute only one account of justice to Epicurus. I show how this interpretation makes sense of claims about justice by Epicurus and his followers, including Hermarchus, Lucretius, and Diogenes of Oinoanda.

Keywords: social contract, contractarianism, Epicurus, Epicureanism, Lucretius, Hermarchus, Diogenes of Oinoanda, Diogenes of Oenoanda, justice

Suggested Citation

Armstrong, John M., Epicurean Justice (1997). Phronesis, Vol. 42, pp. 324–334, 1997, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1641176

John M. Armstrong (Contact Author)

Southern Virginia University ( email )

One University Hill Drive
Buena Vista, VA 24416
United States

HOME PAGE: http://svu.academia.edu/JohnArmstrong

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