Would a Community of Wise Epicureans Be Just?

Ancient Philosophy 21 (1):133-146 (2001)
I begin by considering an argument for why there would not be justice in a community of wise Epicureans: justice only exists where there is an agreement "neither to harm nor be harmed," and such an agreement would be superfluous in a community of wise Epicureans, since they would have no vain desires which would lead them to wish to harm one another. I argue that, if the 'justice contract' prohibits only direct harm of one person by another, then it would be superfluous among Epicureans. However, Lucretius and Hermarchus make it clear that people enter into communities in order to protect themselves from harm from animals and from starvation, and that regulations needed in order for the community to protect the members from these dangers also fall under the purview of justice. Given this more expansive reading of the content of the 'justice contract,' such agreements would be needed in any community, even ones which had only wise Epicureans as members.
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DOI 10.5840/ancientphil20012118
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