Concept of Iustitia

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Concept of Iustitia

Postby Lucius Aurelius Curio » Fri Jul 28, 2017 5:07 pm

Curio Sal.

Recently a very good friend of mine, Gaius Valerius Scipio, asked for a short statement on the concept of Iustitia and what it means to the modern Roman Republic. But the more I got to thinking on that, the more I realized that you can't really break that down to a short statement. Iustitia is too important of a concept, too broad of a virtue to summarize it up so shortly. Iustitia, or justice, is fighting for what is right and just. Even when you have no dog in that fight, sometimes you must do what you feel is virtuous and the correct course of action. One famous example of this is Appius Claudius Caecus, who was a Patrician. However, he took an interest in helping out the plebeian class have more say in the political affairs of Rome. Up until then, they were a virtually powerless group. However, he willingly helped them acquire more power, despite not being a plebeian himself.

Justice is intertwined heavily with the concept of fides, or acting in good faith. Fides, at it's core principle, is that the individual is expected to be loyal, reliable and be trustworthy. These are all concepts that should be adhered to as well when discussing just behavior. A person that you'd trust to deliver justice should be the same one you find to be capable of fides. Otherwise, it's more likely you'll find injustice rather than the justice you seek.

When applied to a legal sense, Iustitia must be carried out fairly and with equality. Justice, when applied to punishment for breaking laws and rules, should be done to fit the law or rule that was broken, no more and no less. In other words, justice must be carried out responsibly. This is often done by having empathy to the current situation. You must be willing to look not only into the reasons for the actions of the individual, but also self reflect on the situation and reflect on what course of action you would have done in their place. This will often help avoid unduly harsh scenarios, which can only lead to tyranny and injustice. However, too lenient of a punishment for the breaking of laws and rules can lead to a breakdown of order. In essence, justice is like a balancing act. If you go too far in any one direction, you risk tipping the scales to a way that is not virtuous. Justice should be used to promote virtuous behavior in all people, leaders and citizens alike.

I leave you with this quote on justice from Marcus Tullius Cicero:

"The foundation of justice is good faith."

Optime Valete!

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Re: Concept of Iustitia

Postby Gaius Florius Lupus » Fri Jul 28, 2017 5:52 pm

Salvete omnes!

The main point of Iustitia is that it is a logical necessity for agreeability. Nothing can be agreed upon in a community, if it is not just for all its members. I have outlined this already in thethread about logical pragmatism in the Collegium Philosophicum.
Every true virtue can be logically deducted, just as Plato did it with the concept of justice in the dialogue between Socrates and the sophist Thrasymachos in his Politeia (Republic).
For the Romans justice has always been extremely important, so that they made the concept into a goddess (Iustitia).

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Re: Concept of Iustitia

Postby Lucius Livius Seneca » Fri Jul 28, 2017 7:48 pm

L. Livius L. Aurelio cos. et omnibus Quiritibus sal.

Philosophia in Foro? Cave, consul, ne archontes in iudicium te vocent!

I find that, without a firm sense of what justice is, people develop the very dangerous habit of including anything about which they feel particularly strongly under it's sacred mantle. In this way all manner of zealotry and self-righteousness become championed as "just" causes. We see this problem acutely among the indignant student mobs ravaging American campuses of late.

The Roman jurist Cn. Annius Ulpianus gives us the ancient definition: "Justice is the constant and perpetual desire to give to every one that to which he is entitled" ("Iustitia est constans et perpetua voluntas ius suum cuique tribuendi," Digesta, 1.1.1.10).

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