Philosophy Dictionary of Arguments

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Höffe I 58
Equity/Right/Aristotle/Höffe: [Aristotle distinguishes] (...) justice from equity (epieikeia)(1), and it concerns a correction of what is legally required. Where the literal application of a law does not do justice to a specific individual case, equity is to protect from a petty, yet merciless precision. For the man who acts in an equitable way is ready to give way even where he has the law on his side. Kant rightly considers such a waiver to be unenforceable (2). Aristotle anticipates this, since he calls the instance authorized to make compulsive decisions, the judge, animated justice, but does not combine it with equity.
In the rhetoric (3) he expressly obligates the judge to the law; only an independent institution, that of the arbitrator, is allowed to look at equity.
Individual case justice: Since legal rules restrict individual case justice in principle, they could be dispensed with altogether. However, Aristotle grants neither the regularity of laws nor the individual case justice of equity an exclusive right.
Law/Aristotle: He considers laws better inasmuch as, unlike humans, they are free from passions; the human, on the other hand, knows better how to give advice for the individual. As today's speech of "all those who think cheaply and justly" suggests, law, because of its responsibility for equal treatment, needs a general norm, and must nevertheless appreciate the individual case in its unmistakable peculiarity.

1. Nikomachische Ethik V 14
2. I. Kant, Rechtslehre, «Anhang zur Einleitung in die Rechtslehre».
3. I 13, 1374b 19-22

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Höffe I
Otfried Höffe
Geschichte des politischen Denkens München 2016

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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2020-09-19
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