Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Justice was a negative virtue

The rules of justice for a particular society could vary, particularly in cases of punishment for breaches. If the breach was proved to whatever standards were the norm, then punishment or chastisement followed. As society developed, laws became more numerous and punishments modified.
A person’s behaviour was not judged by the laws of Justice in the same sense as whether their action was justifiable. Justice, unlike the other virtues, was a negative virtue – they specified what you could not do, such as steal from, murder or harm people, for which punishments were prescribed (trial by combat, whipping, banishment, mutilation, hanging and such like, or their modern equivalents).
The other positive virtues are not enforceable. Breaches are regretted, but not punished by court processes. You could whip or hang someone in Smith’s time for stealing, but not do similar to someone who was benevolent.

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