Aristotle: Reciprocity in Exchange is Not Equity (Presentation Slides)
12 Pages Posted: 7 Aug 2018
Date Written: June 30, 2018
Among some scholars of Aristotelian justice there is the conviction that in the Nicomachean Ethics (NE V,5) Aristotle propagated reciprocity as “true justice in exchange”. But in fact Aristotle wrote there explicitly: in many cases “reciprocity is at variance with Justice”. The paper deals with this contradiction. It builds on Ambrosi’s recent article on “Aristotle’s geometrical accounting” ( https://ssrn.com/abstract=2419927). It explains Aristotle’s seemingly strange statement: “[As] builder is to a shoemaker, so must such and such a number of shoes be to a house”. This expresses a formal economic relation, not an ethical postulate. When this formalism is enhanced by considerations of equity, only then do ethical considerations come in. Conclusion: Reciprocity is not justice in exchange if it lacks equity.
Keywords: Aristotle, equity, justice, ancient geometry, Euclid's Elements
JEL Classification: B4, B31, M490
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation