Summa Th. II-II EN Qu.57 a.2
Objection: 1. It would seem that right is not fittingly divided into natural right and positive right. For that which is natural is unchangeable, and is the same for all. Now nothing of the kind is to be found in human affairs, since all the rules of human right fail in certain cases, nor do they obtain force everywhere. Therefore there is no such thing as natural right.
2. Further, a thing is called "positive" when it proceeds from the human will. But a thing is not just, simply because it proceeds from the human will, else a man's will could not be unjust. Since then the "just" and the "right" are the same, it seems that there is no positive right.
3. Further, Divine right is not natural right, since it transcends human nature. In like manner, neither is it positive right, since it is based not on human, but on Divine authority. Therefore right is unfittingly divided into natural and positive.
On the contrary The Philosopher says (Ethic. v, 7) that "political justice is partly natural and partly legal," i.e. established by law.
I answer that As stated above (Article ) the "right" or the "just" is a work that is adjusted to another person according to some kind of equality. Now a thing can be adjusted to a man in two ways: first by its very nature, as when a man gives so much that he may receive equal value in return, and this is called "natural right." In another way a thing is adjusted or commensurated to another person, by agreement, or by common consent, when, to wit, a man deems himself satisfied, if he receive so much. This can be done in two ways: first by private agreement, as that which is confirmed by an agreement between private individuals; secondly, by public agreement, as when the whole community agrees that something should be deemed as though it were adjusted and commensurated to another person, or when this is decreed by the prince who is placed over the people, and acts in its stead, and this is called "positive right."
Reply to Objection: 1. That which is natural to one whose nature is unchangeable, must needs be such always and everywhere. But man's nature is changeable, wherefore that which is natural to man may sometimes fail. Thus the restitution of a deposit to the depositor is in accordance with natural equality, and if human nature were always right, this would always have to be observed; but since it happens sometimes that man's will is unrighteous there are cases in which a deposit should not be restored, lest a man of unrighteous will make evil use of the thing deposited: as when a madman or an enemy of the common weal demands the return of his weapons.
2. The human will can, by common agreement, make a thing to be just provided it be not, of itself, contrary to natural justice, and it is in such matters that positive right has its place. Hence the Philosopher says (Ethic. v, 7) that "in the case of the legal just, it does not matter in the first instance whether it takes one form or another, it only matters when once it is laid down." If, however, a thing is, of itself, contrary to natural right, the human will cannot make it just, for instance by decreeing that it is lawful to steal or to commit adultery. Hence it is written (Is 10,1): "Woe to them that make wicked laws."
3. The Divine right is that which is promulgated by God. Such things are partly those that are naturally just, yet their justice is hidden to man, and partly are made just by God's decree. Hence also Divine right may be divided in respect of these two things, even as human right is. For the Divine law commands certain things because they are good, and forbids others, because they are evil, while others are good because they are prescribed, and others evil because they are forbidden.
Objection: 1. It would seem that the right of nations is the same as the natural right. For all men do not agree save in that which is natural to them. Now all men agree in the right of nations; since the jurist [*Ulpian: Digest. i, 1; De Just. et Jure i] "the right of nations is that which is in use among all nations." Therefore the right of nations is the natural right.
2. Further, slavery among men is natural, for some are naturally slaves according to the Philosopher (Polit. i, 2). Now "slavery belongs to the right of nations," as Isidore states (Etym. v, 4). Therefore the right of nations is a natural right.
3. Further, right as stated above (Article ) is divided into natural and positive. Now the right of nations is not a positive right, since all nations never agreed to decree anything by common agreement. Therefore the right of nations is a natural right.
On the contrary Isidore says (Etym. v, 4) that "right is either natural, or civil, or right of nations," and consequently the right of nations is distinct from natural right.
I answer that As stated above (Article ), the natural right or just is that which by its very nature is adjusted to or commensurate with another person. Now this may happen in two ways; first, according as it is considered absolutely: thus a male by its very nature is commensurate with the female to beget offspring by her, and a parent is commensurate with the offspring to nourish it. Secondly a thing is naturally commensurate with another person, not according as it is considered absolutely, but according to something resultant from it, for instance the possession of property. For if a particular piece of land be considered absolutely, it contains no reason why it should belong to one man more than to another, but if it be considered in respect of its adaptability to cultivation, and the unmolested use of the land, it has a certain commensuration to be the property of one and not of another man, as the Philosopher shows (Polit. ii, 2).Now it belongs not only to man but also to other animals to apprehend a thing absolutely: wherefore the right which we call natural, is common to us and other animals according to the first kind of commensuration. But the right of nations falls short of natural right in this sense, as the jurist [*Digest. i, 1; De Just. et Jure i] says because "the latter is common to all animals, while the former is common to men only." On the other hand to consider a thing by comparing it with what results from it, is proper to reason, wherefore this same is natural to man in respect of natural reason which dictates it. Hence the jurist Gaius says (Digest. i, 1; De Just. et Jure i, 9): "whatever natural reason decrees among all men, is observed by all equally, and is called the right of nations."
Reply to Objection: 1. This suffices for the Reply to the First Objection.
2. Considered absolutely, the fact that this particular man should be a slave rather than another man, is based, not on natural reason, but on some resultant utility, in that it is useful to this man to be ruled by a wiser man, and to the latter to be helped by the former, as the Philosopher states (Polit. i, 2). Wherefore slavery which belongs to the right of nations is natural in the second way, but not in the first.
3. Since natural reason dictates matters which are according to the right of nations, as implying a proximate equality, it follows that they need no special institution, for they are instituted by natural reason itself, as stated by the authority quoted above
Objection: 1. It would seem that "paternal right" and "right of dominion" should not be distinguished as special species. For it belongs to justice to render to each one what is his, as Ambrose states (De Offic. i, 24). Now right is the object of justice, as stated above (Article ). Therefore right belongs to each one equally; and we ought not to distinguish the rights of fathers and masters as distinct species.
2. Further, the law is an expression of what is just, as stated above (Article , ad 2). Now a law looks to the common good of a city or kingdom, as stated above (I-II 90,2), but not to the private good of an individual or even of one household. Therefore there is no need for a special right of dominion or paternal right, since the master and the father pertain to a household, as stated in Polit. i, 2.
3. Further, there are many other differences of degrees among men, for instance some are soldiers, some are priests, some are princes. Therefore some special kind of right should be allotted to them.
On the contrary The Philosopher (Ethic. v, 6) distinguishes right of dominion, paternal right and so on as species distinct from civil right.
I answer that Right or just depends on commensuration with another person. Now "another" has a twofold signification. First, it may denote something that is other simply, as that which is altogether distinct; as, for example, two men neither of whom is subject to the other, and both of whom are subjects of the ruler of the state; and between these according to the Philosopher (Ethic. v, 6) there is the "just" simply. Secondly a thing is said to be other from something else, not simply, but as belonging in some way to that something else: and in this way, as regards human affairs, a son belongs to his father, since he is part of him somewhat, as stated in Ethic. viii, 12, and a slave belongs to his master, because he is his instrument, as stated in Polit. i, 2 [*Cf. Ethic. viii, 11]. Hence a father is not compared to his son as to another simply, and so between them there is not the just simply, but a kind of just, called "paternal." In like manner neither is there the just simply, between master and servant, but that which is called "dominative." A wife, though she is something belonging to the husband, since she stands related to him as to her own body, as the Apostle declares (Ep 5,28), is nevertheless more distinct from her husband, than a son from his father, or a slave from his master: for she is received into a kind of social life, that of matrimony, wherefore according to the Philosopher (Ethic. v, 6) there is more scope for justice between husband and wife than between father and son, or master and slave, because, as husband and wife have an immediate relation to the community of the household, as stated in Polit. i, 2,5, it follows that between them there is "domestic justice" rather than "civic."
Reply to Objection: 1. It belongs to justice to render to each one his right, the distinction between individuals being presupposed: for if a man gives himself his due, this is not strictly called "just." And since what belongs to the son is his father's, and what belongs to the slave is his master's, it follows that properly speaking there is not justice of father to son, or of master to slave.
2. A son, as such, belongs to his father, and a slave, as such, belongs to his master; yet each, considered as a man, is something having separate existence and distinct from others. Hence in so far as each of them is a man, there is justice towards them in a way: and for this reason too there are certain laws regulating the relations of father to his son, and of a master to his slave; but in so far as each is something belonging to another, the perfect idea of "right" or "just" is wanting to them.
3. All other differences between one person and another in a state, have an immediate relation to the community of the state and to its ruler, wherefore there is just towards them in the perfect sense of justice. This "just" however is distinguished according to various offices, hence when we speak of "military," or "magisterial," or "priestly" right, it is not as though such rights fell short of the simply right, as when we speak of "paternal" right, or right of "dominion," but for the reason that something proper is due to each class of person in respect of his particular office.
We must now consider justice. Under this head there are twelve points of inquiry:
(1) What is justice?
(2) Whether justice is always towards another?
(3) Whether it is a virtue?
(4) Whether it is in the will as its subject?
(5) Whether it is a general virtue?
(6) Whether, as a general virtue, it is essentially the same as every virtue?
(7) Whether there is a particular justice?
(8) Whether particular justice has a matter of its own?
(9) Whether it is about passions, or about operations only?
(10) Whether the mean of justice is the real mean?
(11) Whether the act of justice is to render to everyone his own?
(12) Whether justice is the chief of the moral virtues?
Objection: 1. It would seem that lawyers have unfittingly defined justice as being "the perpetual and constant will to render to each one his right" [*Digest. i, 1; De Just. et Jure 10]. For, according to the Philosopher (Ethic. v, 1), justice is a habit which makes a man "capable of doing what is just, and of being just in action and in intention." Now "will" denotes a power, or also an act. Therefore justice is unfittingly defined as being a will.
2. Further, rectitude of the will is not the will; else if the will were its own rectitude, it would follow that no will is unrighteous. Yet, according to Anselm (De Veritate xii), justice is rectitude. Therefore justice is not the will.
3. Further, no will is perpetual save God's. If therefore justice is a perpetual will, in God alone will there be justice.
4. Further, whatever is perpetual is constant, since it is unchangeable. Therefore it is needless in defining justice, to say that it is both "perpetual" and "constant."
5. Further, it belongs to the sovereign to give each one his right. Therefore, if justice gives each one his right, it follows that it is in none but the sovereign: which is absurd.
6. Further, Augustine says (De Moribus Eccl. xv) that "justice is love serving God alone." Therefore it does not render to each one his right.
I answer that The aforesaid definition of justice is fitting if understood aright. For since every virtue is a habit that is the principle of a good act, a virtue must needs be defined by means of the good act bearing on the matter proper to that virtue. Now the proper matter of justice consists of those things that belong to our intercourse with other men, as shall be shown further on (Article ). Hence the act of justice in relation to its proper matter and object is indicated in the words, "Rendering to each one his right," since, as Isidore says (Etym. x), "a man is said to be just because he respects the rights [jus] of others."Now in order that an act bearing upon any matter whatever be virtuous, it requires to be voluntary, stable, and firm, because the Philosopher says (Ethic. ii, 4) that in order for an act to be virtuous it needs first of all to be done "knowingly," secondly to be done "by choice," and "for a due end," thirdly to be done "immovably." Now the first of these is included in the second, since "what is done through ignorance is involuntary" (Ethic. iii, 1). Hence the definition of justice mentions first the "will," in order to show that the act of justice must be voluntary; and mention is made afterwards of its "constancy" and "perpetuity" in order to indicate the firmness of the act.Accordingly, this is a complete definition of justice; save that the act is mentioned instead of the habit, which takes its species from that act, because habit implies relation to act. And if anyone would reduce it to the proper form of a definition, he might say that "justice is a habit whereby a man renders to each one his due by a constant and perpetual will": and this is about the same definition as that given by the Philosopher (Ethic. v, 5) who says that "justice is a habit whereby a man is said to be capable of doing just actions in accordance with his choice."
Reply to Objection: 1. Will here denotes the act, not the power: and it is customary among writers to define habits by their acts: thus Augustine says (Tract. in Joan. xl) that "faith is to believe what one sees not."
2. Justice is the same as rectitude, not essentially but causally; for it is a habit which rectifies the deed and the will.
3. The will may be called perpetual in two ways. First on the part of the will's act which endures for ever, and thus God's will alone is perpetual. Secondly on the part of the subject, because, to wit, a man wills to do a certain thing always. and this is a necessary condition of justice. For it does not satisfy the conditions of justice that one wish to observe justice in some particular matter for the time being, because one could scarcely find a man willing to act unjustly in every case; and it is requisite that one should have the will to observe justice at all times and in all cases.
4. Since "perpetual" does not imply perpetuity of the act of the will, it is not superfluous to add "constant": for while the "perpetual will" denotes the purpose of observing justice always, "constant" signifies a firm perseverance in this purpose.
5. A judge renders to each one what belongs to him, by way of command and direction, because a judge is the "personification of justice," and "the sovereign is its guardian" (Ethic. v, 4). On the other hand, the subjects render to each one what belongs to him, by way of execution.
6. Just as love of God includes love of our neighbor, as stated above (Question , Article ), so too the service of God includes rendering to each one his due.
Objection: 1. It would seem that justice is not always towards another. For the Apostle says (Rm 3,22) that "the justice of God is by faith of Jesus Christ." Now faith does not concern the dealings of one man with another. Neither therefore does justice.
2. Further, according to Augustine (De Moribus Eccl. xv), "it belongs to justice that man should direct to the service of God his authority over the things that are subject to him." Now the sensitive appetite is subject to man, according to Gn 4,7, where it is written: "The lust thereof," viz. of sin, "shall be under thee, and thou shalt have dominion over it." Therefore it belongs to justice to have dominion over one's own appetite: so that justice is towards oneself.
3. Further, the justice of God is eternal. But nothing else is co-eternal with God. Therefore justice is not essentially towards another.
4. Further, man's dealings with himself need to be rectified no less than his dealings with another. Now man's dealings are rectified by justice, according to Pr 11,5, "The justice of the upright shall make his way prosperous." Therefore justice is about our dealings not only with others, but also with ourselves.
On the contrary Tully says (De Officiis i, 7) that "the object of justice is to keep men together in society and mutual intercourse." Now this implies relationship of one man to another. Therefore justice is concerned only about our dealings with others.
I answer that As stated above (Question , Article ) since justice by its name implies equality, it denotes essentially relation to another, for a thing is equal, not to itself, but to another. And forasmuch as it belongs to justice to rectify human acts, as stated above (Question , Article ; I-II 113,1) this otherness which justice demands must needs be between beings capable of action. Now actions belong to supposits [*Cf. I 29,2] and wholes and, properly speaking, not to parts and forms or powers, for we do not say properly that the hand strikes, but a man with his hand, nor that heat makes a thing hot, but fire by heat, although such expressions may be employed metaphorically. Hence, justice properly speaking demands a distinction of supposits, and consequently is only in one man towards another. Nevertheless in one and the same man we may speak metaphorically of his various principles of action such as the reason, the irascible, and the concupiscible, as though they were so many agents: so that metaphorically in one and the same man there is said to be justice in so far as the reason commands the irascible and concupiscible, and these obey reason; and in general in so far as to each part of man is ascribed what is becoming to it. Hence the Philosopher (Ethic. v, 11) calls this "metaphorical justice."
Reply to Objection: 1. The justice which faith works in us, is that whereby the ungodly is justified it consists in the due coordination of the parts of the soul, as stated above (I-II 113,1) where we were treating of the justification of the ungodly. Now this belongs to metaphorical justice, which may be found even in a man who lives all by himself.
2. This suffices for the Reply to the Second Objection.
3. God's justice is from eternity in respect of the eternal will and purpose (and it is chiefly in this that justice consists); although it is not eternal as regards its effect, since nothing is co-eternal with God.
4. Man's dealings with himself are sufficiently rectified by the rectification of the passions by the other moral virtues. But his dealings with others need a special rectification, not only in relation to the agent, but also in relation to the person to whom they are directed. Hence about such dealings there is a special virtue, and this is justice.
Objection: 1. It would seem that justice is not a virtue. For it is written (Lc 17,10): "When you shall have done all these things that are commanded you, say: We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which we ought to do." Now it is not unprofitable to do a virtuous deed: for Ambrose says (De Officiis ii, 6): "We look to a profit that is estimated not by pecuniary gain but by the acquisition of godliness." Therefore to do what one ought to do, is not a virtuous deed. And yet it is an act of justice. Therefore justice is not a virtue.
2. Further, that which is done of necessity, is not meritorious. But to render to a man what belongs to him, as justice requires, is of necessity. Therefore it is not meritorious. Yet it is by virtuous actions that we gain merit. Therefore justice is not a virtue.
3. Further, every moral virtue is about matters of action. Now those things which are wrought externally are not things concerning behavior but concerning handicraft, according to the Philosopher (Metaph. ix) [*Didot ed., viii, 8]. Therefore since it belongs to justice to produce externally a deed that is just in itself, it seems that justice is not a moral virtue.
On the contrary Gregory says (Moral. ii, 49) that "the entire structure of good works is built on four virtues," viz. temperance, prudence, fortitude and justice
I answer that A human virtue is one "which renders a human act and man himself good" [*Ethic. ii, 6], and this can be applied to justice. For a man's act is made good through attaining the rule of reason, which is the rule whereby human acts are regulated. Hence, since justice regulates human operations, it is evident that it renders man's operations good, and, as Tully declares (De Officiis i, 7), good men are so called chiefly from their justice, wherefore, as he says again (De Officiis i, 7) "the luster of virtue appears above all in justice."
Reply to Objection: 1. When a man does what he ought, he brings no gain to the person to whom he does what he ought, but only abstains from doing him a harm. He does however profit himself, in so far as he does what he ought, spontaneously and readily, and this is to act virtuously. Hence it is written (Sg 8,7) that Divine wisdom "teacheth temperance, and prudence, and justice, and fortitude, which are such things as men (i.e. virtuous men) can have nothing more profitable in life."
2. Necessity is twofold. One arises from "constraint," and this removes merit, since it runs counter to the will. The other arises from the obligation of a "command," or from the necessity of obtaining an end, when, to wit, a man is unable to achieve the end of virtue without doing some particular thing. The latter necessity does not remove merit, when a man does voluntarily that which is necessary in this way. It does however exclude the credit of supererogation, according to 1Co 9,16, "If I preach the Gospel, it is no glory to me, for a necessity lieth upon me."
3. Justice is concerned about external things, not by making them, which pertains to art, but by using them in our dealings with other men.
Objection: 1. It would seem that justice is not in the will as its subject. For justice is sometimes called truth. But truth is not in the will, but in the intellect. Therefore justice is not in the will as its subject.
2. Further, justice is about our dealings with others. Now it belongs to the reason to direct one thing in relation to another. Therefore justice is not in the will as its subject but in the reason.
3. Further, justice is not an intellectual virtue, since it is not directed to knowledge; wherefore it follows that it is a moral virtue. Now the subject of moral virtue is the faculty which is "rational by participation," viz. the irascible and the concupiscible, as the Philosopher declares (Ethic. i, 13). Therefore justice is not in the will as its subject, but in the irascible and concupiscible.
On the contrary Anselm says (De Verit. xii) that "justice is rectitude of the will observed for its own sake."
I answer that The subject of a virtue is the power whose act that virtue aims at rectifying. Now justice does not aim at directing an act of the cognitive power, for we are not said to be just through knowing something aright. Hence the subject of justice is not the intellect or reason which is a cognitive power. But since we are said to be just through doing something aright, and because the proximate principle of action is the appetitive power, justice must needs be in some appetitive power as its subject.Now the appetite is twofold; namely, the will which is in the reason and the sensitive appetite which follows on sensitive apprehension, and is divided into the irascible and the concupiscible, as stated in the I 81,2. Again the act of rendering his due to each man cannot proceed from the sensitive appetite, because sensitive apprehension does not go so far as to be able to consider the relation of one thing to another; but this is proper to the reason. Therefore justice cannot be in the irascible or concupiscible as its subject, but only in the will: hence the Philosopher (Ethic. v, 1) defines justice by an act of the will, as may be seen above (Article ).
Reply to Objection: 1. Since the will is the rational appetite, when the rectitude of the reason which is called truth is imprinted on the will on account of its nighness to the reason, this imprint retains the name of truth; and hence it is that justice sometimes goes by the name of truth.
2. The will is borne towards its object consequently on the apprehension of reason: wherefore, since the reason directs one thing in relation to another, the will can will one thing in relation to another, and this belongs to justice.
3. Not only the irascible and concupiscible parts are "rational by participation," but the entire "appetitive" faculty, as stated in Ethic. i, 13, because all appetite is subject to reason. Now the will is contained in the appetitive faculty, wherefore it can be the subject of moral virtue.
Objection: 1. It would seem that justice is not a general virtue. For justice is specified with the other virtues, according to Sg 8,7, "She teacheth temperance and prudence, and justice, and fortitude." Now the "general" is not specified or reckoned together with the species contained under the same "general." Therefore justice is not a general virtue.
2. Further, as justice is accounted a cardinal virtue, so are temperance and fortitude. Now neither temperance nor fortitude is reckoned to be a general virtue. Therefore neither should justice in any way be reckoned a general virtue.
3. Further, justice is always towards others, as stated above (Article ). But a sin committed against one's neighbor cannot be a general sin, because it is condivided with sin committed against oneself. Therefore neither is justice a general virtue.
On the contrary The Philosopher says (Ethic. v, 1) that "justice is every virtue."
I answer that Justice, as stated above (Article ) directs man in his relations with other men. Now this may happen in two ways: first as regards his relation with individuals, secondly as regards his relations with others in general, in so far as a man who serves a community, serves all those who are included in that community. Accordingly justice in its proper acceptation can be directed to another in both these senses. Now it is evident that all who are included in a community, stand in relation to that community as parts to a whole; while a part, as such, belongs to a whole, so that whatever is the good of a part can be directed to the good of the whole. It follows therefore that the good of any virtue, whether such virtue direct man in relation to himself, or in relation to certain other individual persons, is referable to the common good, to which justice directs: so that all acts of virtue can pertain to justice, in so far as it directs man to the common good. It is in this sense that justice is called a general virtue. And since it belongs to the law to direct to the common good, as stated above (I-II 90,2), it follows that the justice which is in this way styled general, is called "legal justice," because thereby man is in harmony with the law which directs the acts of all the virtues to the common good.
Reply to Objection: 1. Justice is specified or enumerated with the other virtues, not as a general but as a special virtue, as we shall state further on (Articles ,12).
2. Temperance and fortitude are in the sensitive appetite, viz. in the concupiscible and irascible. Now these powers are appetitive of certain particular goods, even as the senses are cognitive of particulars. On the other hand justice is in the intellective appetite as its subject, which can have the universal good as its object, knowledge whereof belongs to the intellect. Hence justice can be a general virtue rather than temperance or fortitude.
3. Things referable to oneself are referable to another, especially in regard to the common good. Wherefore legal justice, in so far as it directs to the common good, may be called a general virtue: and in like manner injustice may be called a general sin; hence it is written (1Jn 3,4) that all "sin is iniquity."
Objection: 1. It would seem that justice, as a general virtue, is essentially the same as all virtue. For the Philosopher says (Ethic. v, 1) that "virtue and legal justice are the same as all virtue, but differ in their mode of being." Now things that differ merely in their mode of being or logically do not differ essentially. Therefore justice is essentially the same as every virtue.
2. Further, every virtue that is not essentially the same as all virtue is a part of virtue. Now the aforesaid justice, according to the Philosopher (Ethic. v. 1) "is not a part but the whole of virtue." Therefore the aforesaid justice is essentially the same as all virtue.
3. Further, the essence of a virtue does not change through that virtue directing its act to some higher end even as the habit of temperance remains essentially the same even though its act be directed to a Divine good. Now it belongs to legal justice that the acts of all the virtues are directed to a higher end, namely the common good of the multitude, which transcends the good of one single individual. Therefore it seems that legal justice is essentially all virtue.
4. Further, every good of a part can be directed to the good of the whole, so that if it be not thus directed it would seem without use or purpose. But that which is in accordance with virtue cannot be so. Therefore it seems that there can be no act of any virtue, that does not belong to general justice, which directs to the common good; and so it seems that general justice is essentially the same as all virtue.
On the contrary The Philosopher says (Ethic. v, 1) that "many are able to be virtuous in matters affecting themselves, but are unable to be virtuous in matters relating to others," and (Polit. iii, 2) that "the virtue of the good man is not strictly the same as the virtue of the good citizen." Now the virtue of a good citizen is general justice, whereby a man Is directed to the common good. Therefore general justice is not the same as virtue in general, and it is possible to have one without the other.
I answer that A thing is said to be "general" in two ways. First, by "predication": thus "animal" is general in relation to man and horse and the like: and in this sense that which is general must needs be essentially the same as the things in relation to which it is general, for the reason that the genus belongs to the essence of the species, and forms part of its definition. Secondly a thing is said to be general "virtually"; thus a universal cause is general in relation to all its effects, the sun, for instance, in relation to all bodies that are illumined, or transmuted by its power; and in this sense there is no need for that which is "general" to be essentially the same as those things in relation to which it is general, since cause and effect are not essentially the same. Now it is in the latter sense that, according to what has been said (Article ), legal justice is said to be a general virtue, in as much, to wit, as it directs the acts of the other virtues to its own end, and this is to move all the other virtues by its command; for just as charity may be called a general virtue in so far as it directs the acts of all the virtues to the Divine good, so too is legal justice, in so far as it directs the acts of all the virtues to the common good. Accordingly, just as charity which regards the Divine good as its proper object, is a special virtue in respect of its essence, so too legal justice is a special virtue in respect of its essence, in so far as it regards the common good as its proper object. And thus it is in the sovereign principally and by way of a mastercraft, while it is secondarily and administratively in his subjects.However the name of legal justice can be given to every virtue, in so far as every virtue is directed to the common good by the aforesaid legal justice, which though special essentially is nevertheless virtually general. Speaking in this way, legal justice is essentially the same as all virtue, but differs therefrom logically: and it is in this sense that the Philosopher speaks.
Reply to Objection: 1. 2. Wherefore the Replies to the First and Second Objections are manifest.
3. This argument again takes legal justice for the virtue commanded by legal justice.
4. Every virtue strictly speaking directs its act to that virtue's proper end: that it should happen to be directed to a further end either always or sometimes, does not belong to that virtue considered strictly, for it needs some higher virtue to direct it to that end. Consequently there must be one supreme virtue essentially distinct from every other virtue, which directs all the virtues to the common good; and this virtue is legal justice.
Summa Th. II-II EN Qu.57 a.2