St. Thomas Aquinas

The Summa Theologica

(Benziger Bros. edition, 1947)
Translated by
Fathers of the English Dominican Province

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Question: 59 [ << | >> ]

OF INJUSTICE (FOUR ARTICLES)

Deinde considerandum est de iniustitia. Et circa hoc quaeruntur quatuor. We must now consider injustice, under which head there are four points of inquiry:
Primo, utrum iniustitia sit speciale vitium. (1) Whether injustice is a special vice?
Secundo, utrum iniusta agere sit proprium iniusti. (2) Whether it is proper to the unjust man to do unjust deeds?
Tertio, utrum aliquis possit iniustum pati volens. (3) Whether one can suffer injustice willingly?
Quarto, utrum iniustitia ex suo genere sit peccatum mortale. (4) Whether injustice is a mortal sin according to its genus?

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Article: 1  [ << | >> ]

Whether injustice is a special virtue?

Ad primum sic proceditur. Videtur quod iniustitia non sit vitium speciale. Dicitur enim I Ioan. III, omne peccatum est iniquitas. Sed iniquitas videtur idem esse quod iniustitia, quia iustitia est aequalitas quaedam, unde iniustitia idem videtur esse quod inaequalitas, sive iniquitas. Ergo iniustitia non est speciale peccatum. Objection 1: It would seem that injustice is not a special vice. For it is written (1 Jn. 3:4): "All sin is iniquity [*Vulg.: 'Whosoever committeth sin, committeth also iniquity; and sin is iniquity']." Now iniquity would seem to be the same as injustice, because justice is a kind of equality, so that injustice is apparently the same as inequality or iniquity. Therefore injustice is not a special sin.
Praeterea, nullum speciale peccatum opponitur omnibus virtutibus. Sed iniustitia opponitur omnibus virtutibus, nam quantum ad adulterium, opponitur castitati; quantum ad homicidium, opponitur mansuetudini; et sic de aliis. Ergo iniustitia non est speciale peccatum. Objection 2: Further, no special sin is contrary to all the virtues. But injustice is contrary to all the virtues: for as regards adultery it is opposed to chastity, as regards murder it is opposed to meekness, and in like manner as regards the other sins. Therefore injustice is not a special sin.
Praeterea, iniustitia iustitiae opponitur, quae in voluntate est. Sed omne peccatum est in voluntate, ut Augustinus dicit. Ergo iniustitia non est speciale peccatum. Objection 3: Further, injustice is opposed to justice which is in the will. But every sin is in the will, as Augustine declares (De Duabus Anim. x). Therefore injustice is not a special sin.
Sed contra, iniustitia iustitiae opponitur. Sed iustitia est specialis virtus. Ergo iniustitia est speciale vitium. On the contrary, Injustice is contrary to justice. But justice is a special virtue. Therefore injustice is a special vice.
Respondeo dicendum quod iniustitia est duplex. Una quidem illegalis, quae opponitur legali iustitiae. Et haec quidem secundum essentiam est speciale vitium, inquantum respicit speciale obiectum, scilicet bonum commune, quod contemnit. Sed quantum ad intentionem est vitium generale, quia per contemptum boni communis potest homo ad omnia peccata deduci. Sicut etiam omnia vitia, inquantum repugnant bono communi, iniustitiae rationem habent, quasi ab iniustitia derivata, sicut et supra de iustitia dictum est. Alio modo dicitur iniustitia secundum inaequalitatem quandam ad alterum, prout scilicet homo vult habere plus de bonis, puta divitiis et honoribus; et minus de malis, puta laboribus et damnis. Et sic iniustitia habet materiam specialem, et est particulare vitium iustitiae particulari oppositum. I answer that, Injustice is twofold. First there is illegal injustice which is opposed to legal justice: and this is essentially a special vice, in so far as it regards a special object, namely the common good which it contemns; and yet it is a general vice, as regards the intention, since contempt of the common good may lead to all kinds of sin. Thus too all vices, as being repugnant to the common good, have the character of injustice, as though they arose from injustice, in accord with what has been said above about justice (Question [58], Articles [5],6). Secondly we speak of injustice in reference to an inequality between one person and another, when one man wishes to have more goods, riches for example, or honors, and less evils, such as toil and losses, and thus injustice has a special matter and is a particular vice opposed to particular justice.
Ad primum ergo dicendum quod sicut iustitia legalis dicitur per comparationem ad bonum commune humanum, ita iustitia divina dicitur per comparationem ad bonum divinum, cui repugnat omne peccatum. Et secundum hoc omne peccatum dicitur iniquitas. Reply to Objection 1: Even as legal justice is referred to human common good, so Divine justice is referred to the Divine good, to which all sin is repugnant, and in this sense all sin is said to be iniquity.
Ad secundum dicendum quod iniustitia etiam particularis opponitur indirecte omnibus virtutibus, inquantum scilicet exteriores etiam actus pertinent et ad iustitiam et ad alias virtutes morales, licet diversimode, sicut supra dictum est. Reply to Objection 2: Even particular justice is indirectly opposed to all the virtues; in so far, to wit, as even external acts pertain both to justice and to the other moral virtues, although in different ways as stated above (Question [58], Article [9], ad 2).
Ad tertium dicendum quod voluntas, sicut et ratio, se extendit ad materiam totam moralem, idest ad passiones et ad operationes exteriores quae sunt ad alterum. Sed iustitia perficit voluntatem solum secundum quod se extendit ad operationes quae sunt ad alterum. Et similiter iniustitia. Reply to Objection 3: The will, like the reason, extends to all moral matters, i.e. passions and those external operations that relate to another person. On the other hand justice perfects the will solely in the point of its extending to operations that relate to another: and the same applies to injustice.

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Question: 59 [ << | >> ]
Article: 2  [ << | >> ]

Whether a man is called unjust through doing an unjust thing?

Ad secundum sic proceditur. Videtur quod aliquis dicatur iniustus ex hoc quod facit iniustum. Habitus enim specificantur per obiecta, ut ex supradictis patet. Sed proprium obiectum iustitiae est iustum, et proprium obiectum iniustitiae est iniustum. Ergo et iustus dicendus est aliquis ex hoc quod facit iustum, et iniustus ex hoc quod facit iniustum. Objection 1: It would seem that a man is called unjust through doing an unjust thing. For habits are specified by their objects, as stated above (FS, Question [54], Article [2]). Now the proper object of justice is the just, and the proper object of injustice is the unjust. Therefore a man should be called just through doing a just thing, and unjust through doing an unjust thing.
Praeterea, philosophus dicit, in V Ethic., falsam esse opinionem quorundam qui aestimant in potestate hominis esse ut statim faciat iniustum, et quod iustus non minus possit facere iniustum quam iniustus. Hoc autem non esset nisi facere iniustum esset proprium iniusti. Ergo aliquis iudicandus est iniustus ex hoc quod facit iniustum. Objection 2: Further, the Philosopher declares (Ethic. v, 9) that they hold a false opinion who maintain that it is in a man's power to do suddenly an unjust thing, and that a just man is no less capable of doing what is unjust than an unjust man. But this opinion would not be false unless it were proper to the unjust man to do what is unjust. Therefore a man is to be deemed unjust from the fact that he does an unjust thing.
Praeterea, eodem modo se habet omnis virtus ad proprium actum, et eadem ratio est de vitiis oppositis. Sed quicumque facit aliquid intemperatum dicitur intemperatus. Ergo quicumque facit aliquid iniustum dicitur iniustus. Objection 3: Further, every virtue bears the same relation to its proper act, and the same applies to the contrary vices. But whoever does what is intemperate, is said to be intemperate. Therefore whoever does an unjust thing, is said to be unjust.
Sed contra est quod philosophus dicit, in V Ethic., quod aliquis facit iniustum et iniustus non est. On the contrary, The Philosopher says (Ethic. v, 6) that "a man may do an unjust thing without being unjust."
Respondeo dicendum quod sicut obiectum iustitiae est aliquid aequale in rebus exterioribus, ita etiam obiectum iniustitiae est aliquid inaequale, prout scilicet alicui attribuitur plus vel minus quam sibi competat. Ad hoc autem obiectum comparatur habitus iniustitiae mediante proprio actu, qui vocatur iniustificatio. Potest ergo contingere quod qui facit iniustum non est iniustus, dupliciter. Uno modo, propter defectum comparationis operationis ad proprium obiectum, quae quidem recipit speciem et nomen a per se obiecto, non autem ab obiecto per accidens. In his autem quae sunt propter finem, per se dicitur aliquid quod est intentum, per accidens autem quod est praeter intentionem. Et ideo si aliquis faciat aliquid quod est iniustum non intendens iniustum facere, puta cum hoc facit per ignorantiam, non existimans se iniustum facere; tunc non facit iniustum per se et formaliter loquendo, sed solum per accidens, et quasi materialiter faciens id quod est iniustum. Et talis operatio non denominatur iniustificatio. Alio modo potest contingere propter defectum comparationis ipsius operationis ad habitum. Potest enim iniustificatio procedere quandoque quidem ex aliqua passione, puta irae vel concupiscentiae, quandoque autem ex electione, quando scilicet ipsa iniustificatio per se placet; et tunc proprie procedit ab habitu, quia unicuique habenti aliquem habitum est secundum se acceptum quod convenit illi habitui. Facere ergo iniustum ex intentione et electione est proprium iniusti, secundum quod iniustus dicitur qui habet iniustitiae habitum. Sed facere iniustum praeter intentionem, vel ex passione, potest aliquis absque habitu iniustitiae. I answer that, Even as the object of justice is something equal in external things, so too the object of injustice is something unequal, through more or less being assigned to some person than is due to him. To this object the habit of injustice is compared by means of its proper act which is called an injustice. Accordingly it may happen in two ways that a man who does an unjust thing, is not unjust: first, on account of a lack of correspondence between the operation and its proper object. For the operation takes its species and name from its direct and not from its indirect object: and in things directed to an end the direct is that which is intended, and the indirect is what is beside the intention. Hence if a man do that which is unjust, without intending to do an unjust thing, for instance if he do it through ignorance, being unaware that it is unjust, properly speaking he does an unjust thing, not directly, but only indirectly, and, as it were, doing materially that which is unjust: hence such an operation is not called an injustice. Secondly, this may happen on account of a lack of proportion between the operation and the habit. For an injustice may sometimes arise from a passion, for instance, anger or desire, and sometimes from choice, for instance when the injustice itself is the direct object of one's complacency. In the latter case properly speaking it arises from a habit, because whenever a man has a habit, whatever befits that habit is, of itself, pleasant to him. Accordingly, to do what is unjust intentionally and by choice is proper to the unjust man, in which sense the unjust man is one who has the habit of injustice: but a man may do what is unjust, unintentionally or through passion, without having the habit of injustice.
Ad primum ergo dicendum quod obiectum per se et formaliter acceptum specificat habitum, non autem prout accipitur materialiter et per accidens. Reply to Objection 1: A habit is specified by its object in its direct and formal acceptation, not in its material and indirect acceptation.
Ad secundum dicendum quod non est facile cuicumque facere iniustum ex electione, quasi aliquid per se placens et non propter aliud, sed hoc proprium est habentis habitum, ut ibidem philosophus dicit. Reply to Objection 2: It is not easy for any man to do an unjust thing from choice, as though it were pleasing for its own sake and not for the sake of something else: this is proper to one who has the habit, as the Philosopher declares (Ethic. v, 9).
Ad tertium dicendum quod obiectum temperantiae non est aliquid exterius constitutum, sicut obiectum iustitiae, sed obiectum temperantiae, idest temperatum, accipitur solum in comparatione ad ipsum hominem. Et ideo quod est per accidens et praeter intentionem non potest dici temperatum nec materialiter nec formaliter, et similiter neque intemperatum. Et quantum ad hoc est dissimile in iustitia et in aliis virtutibus moralibus. Sed quantum ad comparationem operationis ad habitum, in omnibus similiter se habet. Reply to Objection 3: The object of temperance is not something established externally, as is the object of justice: the object of temperance, i.e. the temperate thing, depends entirely on proportion to the man himself. Consequently what is accidental and unintentional cannot be said to be temperate either materially or formally. In like manner neither can it be called intemperate: and in this respect there is dissimilarity between justice and the other moral virtues; but as regards the proportion between operation and habit, there is similarity in all respects.

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Question: 59 [ << | >> ]
Article: 3  [ << | >> ]

Whether we can suffer injustice willingly?

Ad tertium sic proceditur. Videtur quod aliquis possit pati iniustum volens. Iniustum enim est inaequale, ut dictum est. Sed aliquis laedendo seipsum recedit ab aequalitate, sicut et laedendo alium. Ergo aliquis potest sibi ipsi facere iniustum, sicut et alteri. Sed quicumque facit iniustum volens facit. Ergo aliquis volens potest pati iniustum, maxime a seipso. Objection 1: It would seem that one can suffer injustice willingly. For injustice is inequality, as stated above (Article [2]). Now a man by injuring himself, departs from equality, even as by injuring another. Therefore a man can do an injustice to himself, even as to another. But whoever does himself an injustice, does so involuntarily. Therefore a man can voluntarily suffer injustice especially if it be inflicted by himself.
Praeterea, nullus secundum legem civilem punitur nisi propter hoc quod facit aliquam iniustitiam. Sed illi qui interimunt seipsos puniuntur secundum leges civitatum, in hoc quod privabantur antiquitus honore sepulturae; ut patet per philosophum, in V Ethic. Ergo aliquis potest sibi ipsi facere iniustum. Et ita contingit quod aliquis iniustum patiatur volens. Objection 2: Further, no man is punished by the civil law, except for having committed some injustice. Now suicides were formerly punished according to the law of the state by being deprived of an honorable burial, as the Philosopher declares (Ethic. v, 11). Therefore a man can do himself an injustice, and consequently it may happen that a man suffers injustice voluntarily.
Praeterea, nullus facit iniustum nisi alicui patienti iniustum. Sed contingit quod aliquis faciat iniustum alicui hoc volenti, puta si vendat ei rem carius quam valeat. Ergo contingit aliquem volentem iniustum pati. Objection 3: Further, no man does an injustice save to one who suffers that injustice. But it may happen that a man does an injustice to one who wishes it, for instance if he sell him a thing for more than it is worth. Therefore a man may happen to suffer an injustice voluntarily.
Sed contra est quod iniustum pati oppositum est ei quod est iniustum facere. Sed nullus facit iniustum nisi volens. Ergo, per oppositum, nullus patitur iniustum nisi nolens. On the contrary, To suffer an injustice and to do an injustice are contraries. Now no man does an injustice against his will. Therefore on the other hand no man suffers an injustice except against his will.
Respondeo dicendum quod actio, de sui ratione, procedit ab agente; passio autem, secundum propriam rationem, est ab alio, unde non potest esse idem, secundum idem, agens et patiens, ut dicitur in III et VIII Physic. Principium autem proprium agendi in hominibus est voluntas. Et ideo illud proprie et per se homo facit quod volens facit, et e contrario illud proprie homo patitur quod praeter voluntatem suam patitur; quia inquantum est volens, principium est ex ipso, et ideo, inquantum est huiusmodi, magis est agens quam patiens. Dicendum est ergo quod iniustum, per se et formaliter loquendo, nullus potest facere nisi volens, nec pati nisi nolens. Per accidens autem et quasi materialiter loquendo, potest aliquis id quod est de se iniustum vel facere nolens, sicut cum quis praeter intentionem operatur; vel pati volens, sicut cum quis plus alteri dat sua voluntate quam debeat. I answer that, Action by its very nature proceeds from an agent, whereas passion as such is from another: wherefore the same thing in the same respect cannot be both agent and patient, as stated in Phys. iii, 1; viii, 5. Now the proper principle of action in man is the will, wherefore man does properly and essentially what he does voluntarily, and on the other hand a man suffers properly what he suffers against his will, since in so far as he is willing, he is a principle in himself, and so, considered thus, he is active rather than passive. Accordingly we must conclude that properly and strictly speaking no man can do an injustice except voluntarily, nor suffer an injustice save involuntarily; but that accidentally and materially so to speak, it is possible for that which is unjust in itself either to be done involuntarily (as when a man does anything unintentionally), or to be suffered voluntarily (as when a man voluntarily gives to another more than he owes him).
Ad primum ergo dicendum quod cum aliquis sua voluntate dat alicui id quod ei non debet, non facit nec iniustitiam nec inaequalitatem. Homo enim per suam voluntatem possidet res, et ita non est praeter proportionem si aliquid ei subtrahatur secundum propriam voluntatem, vel a seipso vel ab alio. Reply to Objection 1: When one man gives voluntarily to another that which he does not owe him, he causes neither injustice nor inequality. For a man's ownership depends on his will, so there is no disproportion if he forfeit something of his own free-will, either by his own or by another's action.
Ad secundum dicendum quod aliqua persona singularis dupliciter potest considerari. Uno modo, secundum se. Et sic, si sibi aliquod nocumentum inferat, potest quidem habere rationem alterius peccati, puta intemperantiae vel imprudentiae, non tamen rationem iniustitiae, quia sicut iustitia semper est ad alterum, ita et iniustitia. Alio modo potest considerari aliquis homo inquantum est aliquid civitatis, scilicet pars; vel inquantum est aliquid Dei, scilicet creatura et imago. Et sic qui occidit seipsum iniuriam quidem facit non sibi, sed civitati et Deo. Et ideo punitur tam secundum legem divinam quam secundum legem humanam, sicut et de fornicatore apostolus dicit, si quis templum Dei violaverit, disperdet ipsum Deus. Reply to Objection 2: An individual person may be considered in two ways. First, with regard to himself; and thus, if he inflict an injury on himself, it may come under the head of some other kind of sin, intemperance for instance or imprudence, but not injustice; because injustice no less than justice, is always referred to another person. Secondly, this or that man may be considered as belonging to the State as part thereof, or as belonging to God, as His creature and image; and thus a man who kills himself, does an injury not indeed to himself, but to the State and to God. Wherefore he is punished in accordance with both Divine and human law, even as the Apostle declares in respect of the fornicator (1 Cor. 3:17): "If any man violate the temple of God, him shall God destroy."
Ad tertium dicendum quod passio est effectus actionis exterioris. In hoc autem quod est facere et pati iniustum, id quod materialiter est attenditur secundum id quod exterius agitur, prout in se consideratur, ut dictum est, id autem quod est ibi formale et per se, attenditur secundum voluntatem agentis et patientis, ut ex dictis patet. Dicendum est ergo quod aliquem facere iniustum, et alium pati iniustum, materialiter loquendo, semper se concomitantur. Sed si formaliter loquamur, potest aliquis facere iniustum, intendens iniustum facere, tamen alius non patietur iniustum, quia volens patietur. Et e converso potest aliquis pati iniustum, si nolens id quod est iniustum patiatur, et tamen ille qui hoc facit ignorans, non faciet iniustum formaliter, sed materialiter tantum. Reply to Objection 3: Suffering is the effect of external action. Now in the point of doing and suffering injustice, the material element is that which is done externally, considered in itself, as stated above (Article [2]), and the formal and essential element is on the part of the will of agent and patient, as stated above (Article [2]). Accordingly we must reply that injustice suffered by one man and injustice done by another man always accompany one another, in the material sense. But if we speak in the formal sense a man can do an injustice with the intention of doing an injustice, and yet the other man does not suffer an injustice, because he suffers voluntarily; and on the other hand a man can suffer an injustice if he suffer an injustice against his will, while the man who does the injury unknowingly, does an injustice, not formally but only materially.

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Article: 4  [ << | >> ]

Whether whoever does an injustice sins mortally?

Ad quartum sic proceditur. Videtur quod non quicumque facit iniustum peccet mortaliter. Peccatum enim veniale mortali opponitur. Sed quandoque veniale peccatum est quod aliquis faciat iniustum, dicit enim philosophus, in V Ethic., de iniusta agentibus loquens, quaecumque non solum ignorantes, sed et propter ignorantiam peccant, venialia sunt. Ergo non quicumque facit iniustum mortaliter peccat. Objection 1: It would seem that not everyone who does an injustice sins mortally. For venial sin is opposed to mortal sin. Now it is sometimes a venial sin to do an injury: for the Philosopher says (Ethic. v, 8) in reference to those who act unjustly: "Whatever they do not merely in ignorance but through ignorance is a venial matter." Therefore not everyone that does an injustice sins mortally.
Praeterea, qui in aliquo parvo iniustitiam facit, parum a medio declinat. Sed hoc videtur esse tolerabile, et inter minima malorum computandum, ut patet per philosophum, in II Ethic. Non ergo quicumque facit iniustum peccat mortaliter. Objection 2: Further, he who does an injustice in a small matter, departs but slightly from the mean. Now this seems to be insignificant and should be accounted among the least of evils, as the Philosopher declares (Ethic. ii, 9). Therefore not everyone that does an injustice sins mortally.
Praeterea, caritas est mater omnium virtutum, ex cuius contrarietate aliquod peccatum dicitur mortale. Sed non omnia peccata opposita aliis virtutibus sunt mortalia. Ergo etiam neque facere iniustum semper est peccatum mortale. Objection 3: Further, charity is the "mother of all the virtues" [*Peter Lombard, Sent. iii, D. 23], and it is through being contrary thereto that a sin is called mortal. But not all the sins contrary to the other virtues are mortal. Therefore neither is it always a mortal sin to do an injustice.
Sed contra, quidquid est contra legem Dei est peccatum mortale. Sed quicumque facit iniustum facit contra praeceptum legis Dei, quia vel reducitur ad furtum, vel ad adulterium, vel ad homicidium; vel ad aliquid huiusmodi, ut ex sequentibus patebit. Ergo quicumque facit iniustum peccat mortaliter. On the contrary, Whatever is contrary to the law of God is a mortal sin. Now whoever does an injustice does that which is contrary to the law of God, since it amounts either to theft, or to adultery, or to murder, or to something of the kind, as will be shown further on (Question [64], seqq.). Therefore whoever does an injustice sins mortally.
Respondeo dicendum quod, sicut supra dictum est cum de differentia peccatorum ageretur, peccatum mortale est quod contrariatur caritati, per quam est animae vita. Omne autem nocumentum alteri illatum ex se caritati repugnat, quae movet ad volendum bonum alterius. Et ideo, cum iniustitia semper consistat in nocumento alterius, manifestum est quod facere iniustum ex genere suo est peccatum mortale. I answer that, As stated above (FS, Question [12], Article [5]), when we were treating of the distinction of sins, a mortal sin is one that is contrary to charity which gives life to the soul. Now every injury inflicted on another person is of itself contrary to charity, which moves us to will the good of another. And so since injustice always consists in an injury inflicted on another person, it is evident that to do an injustice is a mortal sin according to its genus.
Ad primum ergo dicendum quod verbum philosophi intelligitur de ignorantia facti, quam ipse vocat ignorantiam particularium circumstantiarum, quae meretur veniam, non autem de ignorantia iuris, quae non excusat. Qui autem ignorans facit iniustum, non facit iniustum nisi per accidens, ut supra dictum est. Reply to Objection 1: This saying of the Philosopher is to be understood as referring to ignorance of fact, which he calls "ignorance of particular circumstances" [*Ethic. iii, 1], and which deserves pardon, and not to ignorance of the law which does not excuse: and he who does an injustice through ignorance, does no injustice except accidentally, as stated above (Article [2])
Ad secundum dicendum quod ille qui in parvis facit iniustitiam, deficit a perfecta ratione eius quod est iniustum facere, inquantum potest reputari non esse omnino contra voluntatem eius qui hoc patitur, puta si auferat aliquis alicui unum pomum vel aliquid tale, de quo probabile sit quod ille inde non laedatur, nec ei displiceat. Reply to Objection 2: He who does an injustice in small matters falls short of the perfection on an unjust deed, in so far as what he does may be deemed not altogether contrary to the will of the person who suffers therefrom: for instance, if a man take an apple or some such thing from another man, in which case it is probable that the latter is not hurt or displeased.
Ad tertium dicendum quod peccata quae sunt contra alias virtutes non semper sunt in nocumentum alterius, sed important inordinationem quandam circa passiones humanas. Unde non est similis ratio. Reply to Objection 3: The sins which are contrary to the other virtues are not always hurtful to another person, but imply a disorder affecting human passions; hence there is no comparison.

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