What would Aristotle have thought about a state lottery? This essay uses Aristotle's views on justice to evaluate the morality of a state lottery.

Essay by kamakaziUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, March 2003

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One aspect of justice, which Aristotle elaborated on, was that which was concerned with a fair distribution and proportionate equality. These aspects are directly related to the debate about whether a state lottery would be unjust toward those citizens of the state who are the least able to afford it. For the sake of argument we will assume that a lottery is a disproportionate tax on the poor, who are more inclined to play hoping of financial rescue. Aristotle would have agreed with the side of the argument thinking this is unjust, because he thought that what is harmful as well as choice worthy should be distributed proportionately. This applies to our debate in that the poor people who play the lottery more often than the rich would foot a large amount of tax money. This is harmful to the poor in that since they are poor they should not be throwing away money to such a high-risk endeavor.

It would be beneficial to the rich in that a large portion of the tax burden would be pushed onto someone else.

Justice, Aristotle said, "is the virtue in accord with which the just person is said to do what is just in accord with his decision, distributing good things and bad, both between himself and others and between others." (1134a 3-5) The lottery would clearly not fit into this description because the poor class would suffer the majority of the bad distribution. Aristotle would have argued that the advocates of the lottery are not just because "the just is in some way proportionate." (1131a 30) Aristotle also said, "he does not award too much of what is choice worthy to himself and too little to his neighbor (and the reverse what is harmful, but awards what is proportionately equal.)" (1134a...