Man cannot possibly be good unless he stands in the right relation to the common good,

Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica

Henry de Bracton: What justice is

Since from justice, as from a fountain-head, all rights arise and what justice commands jus provides, let us see what justice is and whence it is so called. Also what jus is and whence it is so called and what its precepts are, and what law is and what custom, without which one cannot be just, so as to do justice and give just judgment between man and man.

‘Justice is the constant and unfailing will to give to each his right.’

This definition may be understood in two ways, according as justice is taken to be in the Creator or in the created. If in the Creator, that is, in God, the matter is clear, since justice is the disposition of God which in all things rightfully orders and justly disposes. God himself gives to each man in accordance with his deserts. He is neither variable nor inconstant in his dispositions and wills, but is constant and unfailing. For he had no beginning, nor has nor will have any end.

The definition may be understood in another way, that justice is in the created, that is, in the just man. The just man has the will to give to each his right, and thus that will is called justice. His will to give each his right refers to what is intended not to what is done, as the emperor is called Augustus not because he always augments his empire but because it is his intention to do so [and] as matrimony is said to be an inseparable conjoining because the parties intend never to be separated though they may afterwards be separated for just cause. Thus justice is said to be constant, in accord with the definition.

[Justice may also be understood in another way, according to the definition] which defines justice as in the created: by the word ‘will,’ ‘mind’ may be understood, and by ‘constant,’ ‘good,’ for constancy is always taken to be good; hence the saints are said to have been constant, and we say ‘O the constancy of the martyrs!’ By the word ‘unfailing,’ ‘habit’ may be understood [also by the word ‘constant’],  ‘Be ye constant,’ for constancy does not admit of variation, as though the definition read ‘justice is a good habit of mind’ or ‘the habit of a mind well constituted’ or ‘justice is a willed good,’ for it cannot properly be called good unless will plays a part. Remove will and every act will be indifferent. It is your intent that differentiates your acts, nor is a crime committed unless an intention to injure exists; it is will and purpose which distinguish maleficia.

As for the words ‘his right,’ they mean his merited right, for because of delict or a pact broken or the like one is [de jure] deprived of his right. Or say ‘to each’ means to him, that he live virtuously, and to God, that he love God, and to his neighbour, that he not harm him. Or say ‘suum jus&rquo; means ‘her right,’ that is, [to each what justice entitles him to]; she is called justice because in her all rights reside.

(English translation Copyright (c) 1968-1977 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College)

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