Volume 6, 2017
Ethics and Justice / Éthique et justice
Ricœur, Personalism and Personal Justice
This essay explores the personalism underlying the ethical dimension of Ricceur’s discussion of the institutional justice. According to Ricoeur, “public justice” refers to civil society’s critical response to the judicial acts of justice, with reference to ethical values as negotiating or mediating between the principles of justice and concrete practices, i.e., how things are done in the world, the existing state of affairs. Public justice can force institutional justice to function when it is not functioning well because of political interference and manipulation. In case the public justice is obstructed, for instance in a totalitarian regime, which intimidates the public debate, all we are left with is “personal justice,” a virtue in the Aristotelian sense that exceeds justice in the institutional sense. If institutional justice collapses and public discussion is silenced, personal justice is the only remaining relation to the third, which is irreducible to friendship.