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St. Thomas Aquinas
Summa Theologica

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  • SECOND PART
    • Aquin.: SMT SS Q[1] Out. Para. 1/4 - SECOND PART OF THE SECOND PART (SS) (QQ[1]-189)
      • Aquin.: SMT SS Q[120] Out. Para. 1/1 - OF "EPIKEIA" OR EQUITY (TWO ARTICLES)
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Aquin.: SMT SS Q[120] Out. Para. 1/1 - OF "EPIKEIA" OR EQUITY (TWO ARTICLES)

We must now consider "epikeia," under which head there are two points of
inquiry:

(1) Whether "epikeia" is a virtue?

(2) Whether it is a part of justice?


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[120] A[1] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether "epikeia" [*{epieikeia}] is a virtue?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[120] A[1] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It seems that "epikeia" is not a virtue. For no virtue does away
with another virtue. Yet "epikeia" does away with another virtue, since
it sets aside that which is just according to law, and seemingly is
opposed to severity. Therefore "epikeia" is not a virtue.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[120] A[1] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, Augustine says (De Vera Relig. xxxi): "With regard to
these earthly laws, although men pass judgment on them when they make
them, yet, when once they are made and established, the judge must
pronounce judgment not on them but according to them." But seemingly
"epikeia" pronounces judgment on the law, when it deems that the law
should not be observed in some particular case. Therefore "epikeia" is a
vice rather than a virtue.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[120] A[1] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, apparently it belongs to "epikeia" to consider the
intention of the lawgiver, as the Philosopher states (Ethic. v, 10). But
it belongs to the sovereign alone to interpret the intention of the
lawgiver, wherefore the Emperor says in the Codex of Laws and
Constitutions, under Law i: "It is fitting and lawful that We alone
should interpret between equity and law." Therefore the act of "epikeia"
is unlawful: and consequently "epikeia" is not a virtue.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[120] A[1] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, The Philosopher (Ethic. v, 10) states it to be a virtue.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[120] A[1] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, As stated above (FS, Q[96], A[6]), when we were treating
of laws, since human actions, with which laws are concerned, are composed
of contingent singulars and are innumerable in their diversity, it was
not possible to lay down rules of law that would apply to every single
case. Legislators in framing laws attend to what commonly happens:
although if the law be applied to certain cases it will frustrate the
equality of justice and be injurious to the common good, which the law
has in view. Thus the law requires deposits to be restored, because in
the majority of cases this is just. Yet it happens sometimes to be
injurious - for instance, if a madman were to put his sword in deposit,
and demand its delivery while in a state of madness, or if a man were to
seek the return of his deposit in order to fight against his country. In
these and like cases it is bad to follow the law, and it is good to set
aside the letter of the law and to follow the dictates of justice and the
common good. This is the object of "epikeia" which we call equity.
Therefore it is evident that "epikeia" is a virtue.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[120] A[1] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: "Epikeia" does not set aside that which is just in itself
but that which is just as by law established. Nor is it opposed to
severity, which follows the letter of the law when it ought to be
followed. To follow the letter of the law when it ought not to be
followed is sinful. Hence it is written in the Codex of Laws and
Constitutions under Law v: "Without doubt he transgresses the law who by
adhering to the letter of the law strives to defeat the intention of the
lawgiver."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[120] A[1] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: It would be passing judgment on a law to say that it was
not well made; but to say that the letter of the law is not to be
observed in some particular case is passing judgment not on the law, but
on some particular contingency.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[120] A[1] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Interpretation is admissible in doubtful cases where it is
not allowed to set aside the letter of the law without the interpretation
of the sovereign. But when the case is manifest there is need, not of
interpretation, but of execution.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[120] A[2] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether "epikeia" is a part of justice?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[120] A[2] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It seems that "epikeia" is not a part of justice. For, as stated
above (Q[58], A[7]), justice is twofold, particular and legal. Now
"epikeia" is not a part of particular justice, since it extends to all
virtues, even as legal justice does. In like manner, neither is it a part
of legal justice, since its operation is beside that which is established
by law. Therefore it seems that "epikeia" is not a part of justice.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[120] A[2] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, a more principal virtue is not assigned as the part of a
less principal virtue: for it is to the cardinal virtue, as being
principal, that secondary virtues are assigned as parts. Now "epikeia"
seems to be a more principal virtue than justice, as implied by its name:
for it is derived from {epi}, i.e. "above," and {dikaion}, i.e. "just."
Therefore "epikeia" is not a part of justice.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[120] A[2] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, it seems that "epikeia" is the same as modesty. For
where the Apostle says (Phil. 4:5), "Let your modesty be known to all
men," the Greek has {epieikeia} [*{to epieikes}]. Now, according to Tully
(De Invent. Rhet. ii), modesty is a part of temperance. Therefore
"epikeia" is not a part of justice.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[120] A[2] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, The Philosopher says (Ethic. v, 10) that "epikeia is a
kind of justice."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[120] A[2] Body Para. 1/2

I answer that, As stated above (Q[48]), a virtue has three kinds of
parts, subjective, integral, and potential. A subjective part is one of
which the whole is predicated essentially, and it is less than the whole.
This may happen in two ways. For sometimes one thing is predicated of
many in one common ratio, as animal of horse and ox: and sometimes one
thing is predicated of many according to priority and posteriority, as
"being" of substance and accident.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[120] A[2] Body Para. 2/2

Accordingly, "epikeia" is a part of justice taken in a general sense,
for it is a kind of justice, as the Philosopher states (Ethic. v, 10).
Wherefore it is evident that "epikeia" is a subjective part of justice;
and justice is predicated of it with priority to being predicated of
legal justice, since legal justice is subject to the direction of
"epikeia." Hence "epikeia" is by way of being a higher rule of human
actions.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[120] A[2] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Epikeia corresponds properly to legal justice, and in one
way is contained under it, and in another way exceeds it. For if legal
justice denotes that which complies with the law, whether as regards the
letter of the law, or as regards the intention of the lawgiver, which is
of more account, then "epikeia" is the more important part of legal
justice. But if legal justice denote merely that which complies with the
law with regard to the letter, then "epikeia" is a part not of legal
justice but of justice in its general acceptation, and is condivided with
legal justice, as exceeding it.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[120] A[2] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: As the Philosopher states (Ethic. v, 10), "epikeia is
better than a certain," namely, legal, "justice," which observes the
letter of the law: yet since it is itself a kind of justice, it is not
better than all justice.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[120] A[2] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: It belongs to "epikeia" to moderate something, namely, the
observance of the letter of the law. But modesty, which is reckoned a
part of temperance, moderates man's outward life - for instance, in his
deportment, dress or the like. Possibly also the term {epieikeia} is
applied in Greek by a similitude to all kinds of moderation.





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