7 - Remodeling the Moral Edifice (II): Aquinas and Aristotelian Legal Justice  pp. 173-200

By Mary M. Keys

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For most contemporary political theory, the preeminent or focal meaning of justice is on the macro level: its primary subject is the political community and its regime or basic structure. Justice is above all, in Rawls's famous phrase, “the first virtue of social institutions” (Rawls 1971, 3; 1999, 3), and as such he later specifies it as “free-standing” and “political, not metaphysical” (Rawls 1985, 1993). In recent years, scholars have challenged this reigning paradigm from various vantage points, arguing for a renewed appreciation of the links among political science, ethics, and philosophic anthropology, and hence for the importance to political theory of also investigating personal virtue (cf. inter alia Bartlett 1994; Berkowitz 1999; Budziszewski 1988; Collins 2004; Galston 1991, 2002; Macedo 1990; Manent 1998; Sandel 1998). Aristotle's works have appropriately loomed large in the revival of the political study of personal virtue, while by comparison the contribution of Thomas Aquinas has been largely overlooked. Susan Collins has recently observed that justice itself has been given short shrift among the virtues, even in neo-Aristotelian scholarship (Collins 2004, 53; cf. O'Connor 1988, 417).

This chapter seeks to continue the reconsideration in political theory of justice as a personal virtue, focusing on Aquinas's dialectical account of justice as a preeminent ethical virtue and a character trait of persons who care about and work for the well-being of their political communities.


Reference Title: Works Cited

Reference Type: bibliography

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