Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

What kind of justice in a globalized world? The answer beforehand of Aristotle

Giampaolo Abbate


In the current debate about what kind of justice is possible for the new era of globalization, we have basically two views: the one particularistic (Richard Rorty), the other universalistic (Karl Otto Apel, John Rawls). But in truth this opposition between ‘universal’ and ‘particular’ in the reflection on justice is far older and deeper. We got important evidences of this right from Xenophanes, Heraclitus and Herodotus. But it was Aristotle who dramatically pointed out how this tension gets truly to the roots of any conception of ‘justice’. In my paper I have taken up the matter in three places only, wherein Aristotle’s remarks through Thomas Aquinas are conclusive: 1) the relationship between the abstractness of law and the case in point; 2) the so-called by Hegel ‘accidental nature of the universal’, that is, the inherent insufficiency of law insofar as its actual implementation; 3) the opposite accounts of the reduction of the universal and the multiplication of the universal. The solution proposed by Aristotle to solve this tension is searching for a composition, rather than fixing our attention on the opposition, between universal and particular in terms of a mutual being related. A theory of justice as an account of equity and reciprocity, which respectively establishes justice anywhere the universal is inappropriate and when the foundation of social life is concerned on the grounds of need. An idea of justice still relevant today in that it is very responsive to the problems of globalization, on how to participate in the justice found in the interchange of duties and rights amongst people who do not belong to the same State any longer.

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