Book V in Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics Essay

September 21, 2021 by Essay Writer


Aristotle’s writing in this document is a provocative economic analysis of the ancient period. The document discusses how justice was executed in distribution and exchange. It uses the reality of human inequality and diversity in providing some economic ideas. The document directly tries to identify commercial transactions with some types of justice. These types of justice are used to explain how individuals can exchange goods proportionately between them and how unequal exchanges can be solved. The document highlights how money is used in solving the problem as a common standard of measure (Johnson, 2014). This discussion on different types of justice and their execution implies society’s political theories and moral standing.

Challenging the assumption of the period in which the document was produced

The central discussion of the document revolves around justice to provide a scrutinized analysis of money and exchange. It shows how the rules of justice are applied to economic transactions. Firstly, a distinction between particular justice and universal justice has been provided. It helps to explain how particular justice will be applied in commercial transactions since it entails quantitative relationships.

Under this classification of justice, there is the rectification or distributive justice that is involved in making things right by eliminating unjust gain and reinstating unfair losses. It also gives other ways of compensating individuals for damages or losses suffered. On the other hand, reciprocity justice is a bit different since it entails the interchanging of goods and services to derive mutual benefits from specific characteristics of the exchanged things (Johnson, 2014).

Justice is hence used to determine the correct shares applicable in different relationships. By use of trading partners involved in various works of art, it analyzes their subjective interactions while seeking to have mutual benefits from an economic transaction. It comes up with the concept of mutual subjective utility as a basis of exchange as well as the notion that reciprocity should agree with proportions. By referencing justice as being just and injustice as performing the unjust, the document tries to prove that there should be an equivalent exchange received for every commercial exchange.

An explanation of just distribution, ratio, and proportion concepts are applied to show the treatment of justice. Lack of justifiable ratios that could be used in fair exchange presented a serious and authentic economic problem. A quantitative and precise way of measuring goods was not available. This is because the fair exchange of things is the reciprocity of proportion and not equality. This is only achievable by equalizing the proportion of products or services that are subject to exchange. In this case, there should be an establishment of proportionate equality between products to make products that are created with varying values equal (Johnson, 2014).

The problem of using a common standard to measure things is also analyzed. The manner of setting the right ratios to ensure there is a fair exchange of heterogeneous items is challenged. To solve this problem, the document suggests a principle that allows unequal and non-comparable items to be equated. The document highlights the fact that each thing has its value and naturally, all things are different from each other. The essential thing is coming up with a way of putting a price or exchange value to diverse products through a common standard (Johnson, 2014).

Identification and assessment of the argument about the nature of money

The nature of money in this discussion is seen in its ability to solve the equality problems experienced in an exchange. Money assists in making a variety of unrelated things to be commensurable for an equal exchange. This is because it acts as a common standard of measure with the ability to use proportion in expressing reciprocity. However, it is not a requirement that the items being exchanged are precisely in equal ratio.

Money conveniently ensures an acceptable expression of exchanging various goods and services. Money is the dimension through which non-comparable goods are compared and equalized during an exchange. It ensures that despite the diversity of people’s jobs and needs, they are still able to do commercial transactions to satisfy their individual needs (Johnson, 2014).

In every exchange, there can be no equality if commensurability does not exist. This means that money is essential in proving commensurability since it is applicable across all the lines of business. Money ensures that utilities and costs are equalized before the exchange takes place so that people associated with it are ensured that the transaction is fair. The unit value of products is also measured through their need or demand in the market.

In this case, money is the only thing that provides a unit of measure for this need. It covers the price of items or the exchanged ratio agreed by bargaining in the market. The nature of money, therefore, plays a crucial role in solving all problems associated with inequality in a commercial exchange (Johnson, 2014).

Evaluation of the political and moral implications of the argument

This argument has both political and moral implications. It provides a philosophical analysis of human ends and means. For instance, it explains that people who have good virtues and live a moral life are destined to be happy. Any exchanges also entail voluntary human actions that require people to make prior deliberations in their minds. These deliberations result in an action that either has an impact of lawful or lawless nature on an individual. Additionally, the discussion brings out that justice has many other virtues embedded therein that influence the moral aspect of individuals as well as their relations with other people (Johnson, 2014).

Justice involves maintaining and restoring the correct balance and an event that results in a disadvantage or unfair advantage is taken as a concern for justice. In a political community, everyone tends to agree that all persons should be treated equally. In turn, unequal parties should be treated unequally although there is no particular recognized standard used to determine the deserved treatment. An analysis of distributive justice suggests that individuals receive benefits in proportion to their merit.

This implies that some people are of the idea that those who have more wealth should be considered to have more rights and political power. Consequently, others believe that all persons are equal by birth and, therefore, they are entitled to equal benefits. This influences the outcome of political activities that are based on the natural law that differs from place to place (Johnson, 2014).

The document helps to highlight the challenges experienced in distribution and commercial exchanges. Rules found in different types of justice have been used to identify, analyze, and come up with a solution for commensurability problems experienced in exchange. Money as a common standard of measure is seen as a viable solution to ensure equality in exchange. Through natural justice that dictates the rule of law, the argument also shows some implications in a society’s political activities. Justice affects the moral state of individuals since it is comprised of other virtues and influences human relations.


Johnson, T. C. (2014). Reciprocity as a Foundation of Financial Economics. Journal of Business Ethics, 131(1), 43-67.

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