Aristotle, Friendships, Justice, and Work Relationships


Aristotle is well known as a Greek Philosopher who lived between 384 B.C and 322 B.C.Aristotle wrote about so many subjects, something that he is greatly acknowledged for. He is recognized as one of the founders of the western philosophy that is still being used in the contemporary world. Aristotle’s work has revolved around morality, science, and logic. His work has had great influence on the theological and the philosophical views in Christianity, Jewish traditions, and Islam.

The Aristotle philosophy has continued to remain the subject of academic study in the contemporary world, many years after the work was written. According to the philosophy, ethics are considered as practical science where one adopts something for doing it rather than just reasoning.

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In addition, Aristotle considered ethical knowledge as general knowledge. Aristotle’s views about ethics are well presented in his writings in the book, Nicomachean Ethics (Ostwald, M.1962). In this book, Aristotle discusses the virtue ethics. He discusses his ideas and understanding on various issues such as happiness, friendship, justice, and work relationships. Virtues are closely related to proper functioning and a good life, and balancing one’s life so that one avoids the excess leads to a good life. In this paper, Aristotle’s ideas and concepts about justice, friendship, happiness, and human relationships will be discussed.


Aristotle’s concept on Friendship

Based on the book Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle views friendship as something very important in the society. Friendship acts as a corner stone when it comes to the building of a society. It is through a good life that positive or good friendship can be developed in people. Aristotle describes friendship based on three categories; on the good, pleasure, and utility.

In the friendships of utility, people are able to enjoy a cordial relationship due to the benefit they derive from having each other as friends. For instance, a business partnership can be described as a friendship of utility because the business partners benefit from each other when it comes to the business matters.

In a working environment, two or more people may have a friendship of utility. When individuals seek each other in order to enjoy each other’s company, people feel great joy and when this occurs, friendships of pleasure are built. A good example of this category of friendship is whereby two people are involved in a passionate love affair. In the friendship of the good category, people develop friendship based on the desire to assist each other, mutual respect, as well as the admiration of each others’ virtues. The individuals who are involved in this kind of friendship tend to recognize the essential   goodness of each other.

Aristotle describes the friendships of utility and pleasure as fragile. These two categories of friendship are usually based on purpose. Individuals who are involved in the friendship usually maintain the friendship due to the benefits that they derive from the friendship. The friendships are not as long lasting as those of good because  they can only  last as long as the purpose of the friendship still exists.However,the friendships are likely to end when the purpose of having the relationship exist no more. This means that the individuals in the friendship cannot see the need to maintain a friendship that has no purpose.

On the other hand, Aristotle considers the friendships of good as the most long-lasting of the three categories of friendship. When friends continue relating in a virtuous manner, the way they relate to each other encourages them to maintain and grow in the friendship. Having several friends of good is described by Aristotle as a very fortunate thing to happen to a person. It is very rare for one to have a friendship of good since it requires people to invest in time and intimacy.

Those who are in this kind of friendship tend to know each other’s qualities. Furthermore, friends can then be able to share deep experiences and close connections with each other. Friendships are very crucial when it comes to the social network of a society and people understand themselves better and derive value in relating to each other. Human interaction in the society occurs when friendship is developed and maintained.

Aristotle on Justice

According to Aristotle, justice encourages equality in the human society. Justice is a virtue that needs to be upheld in the society so that all people live in peace and harmony with each other. As a virtue, justice advocates for fair treatment of all individuals, failure to which injustice may be said to occur. Equal distribution of resources amongst people can be viewed as justice.However, every time injustice is done towards a person, the wrong doing needs to be corrected in order to ensure that justice is done.

A just society advocates against actions and behavior that deny certain people what they deserve. When people live by the rule of reason and reasonability, they tend to respect each other and this promotes fair treatment and judgment towards all the people in the society. This in turn leads to justice.

In the society, people need to seek justice by reviewing their behavior and attitudes towards each other. People who strive to live a virtuous life appreciate justice and by embracing values that encourage self-promotion and respect, justice can be achieved. Like in all other virtues, justice can be obtained through practicing. Aristotle’s philosophy of justice advocates for a truly virtuous life, where seeking justice becomes a moral compass to an individual. Justice is a character trait .In order to look for virtues, Aristotle uses a mean. Aristotle sees justice as a mean that represents an intermediate act which exists between two extremes, with the virtues’ application when relating to the others becomes justice.

Justice is closely related to equality and government, where equal distribution amongst people is a representation of justice. In a just society, people get things based on the merit. In a morally upright society, justice is very vital when it comes to the personal transactions between people. Justice that exists in voluntary exchanges promotes proportional sharing. The restoration of equality between two groups or individuals promotes justice, and the development and implementation of law in the society is done as means of promoting justice. A person who is lawless is unjust.

Aristotle on Happiness

Happiness is the chief good for human beings according to Aristotle, and is also referred to as eudemonia. In the   book Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle describes happiness as something that is precious since it is the first principle. As human beings, we act in order to seek happiness and Aristotle sees happiness as an activity of the human soul which goes according to   the perfect virtue. By considering virtue, a person can be able to study happiness.

Happiness is connected to ethics, as well as virtues and the preservation of happiness in politics is produced by law. This is because people are encouraged to act based on the mean. Happiness is achieved when people are virtuous, with the self-sufficiency and prosperity playing an important role in achieving happiness. Happiness is considered by Aristotle as the final good in humans. The human soul is the place in which the human soul exists.

An Interview: Human Relationships at Work

The following is an Interview with Mr.Johnson, a Human Resource Manager at Textile Manufacturing Company about Human relationships in the company. The interview focuses on the employee management in the company, and the relationships that exist. In the interview, I will use the name Mary.

  • Mary: Good morning, Mr. Johnson.
  • Mr. Johnson: Good morning.
  • Mary: Thank you for putting aside sometime in your busy schedule to talk to me. Mr. Johnson, you are the human resource manager in the company. This means that you deal directly with issues that relate to the employees in the company. Could you mention briefly the responsibility of your department when it comes to human relationships?
  • Mr. Johnson: Thank you. I would like to  start by saying that dealing with people and their well being as  they work for the company has been both a learning and challenging experience for me. This is because, there is need to balance the company’s interest and the employee’s wellbeing so as to encourage good working relationships at the place of work. As a manager, my responsibility is  to ensure  that the  employees who are the  company’s most valued  assets maximize their potential in relation to the company’s productivity while  at the same time having  their  needs well taken care of. Employees have their different needs and goals. The human resource department has a duty to develop effective ways of attracting, as well as maintaining the employees. This includes recruiting employees, managing their skills, payment of the employee salaries, evaluating employees’ performance, and training. The department is also concerned with other issues that influence employees’ performance.
  • Mary: Mr. Johnson, I realize that managing any human workforce requires a manager like you to promote healthy relationships between the employees. What are some of the practices and   techniques that your company and to be more specific your department has devised to ensure that healthy and positive relationships are formed and maintained amongst in your employees?
  • Mr. Johnson: One of the things that my department has done to encourage good relationship in employees is by developing and putting into place the company’s code of ethics. This acts as a guide to the employee behavior, which dictates how they should relate with each other. Only good   behavior is acceptable in the company, according to the code of ethics. The department educates and encourages employees to embrace good values and virtues in their work. When this is done, factors that may promote conflicts, disagreements, and bad relationship between the employees are eliminated.
  • Mary: Some employees may fail to observe the code of ethics. How do you handle such cases?
  • Mr. Johnson:   Bad relationship between employees undermines the productivity of the company. In cases where employees go against the code of   ethics, a disciplinary action is taken against them. The severity of the penalty depends on what an employee has done. Some offences demand for dismissal.
  • Mary: Can you highlight some of the challenges that you face as a manager or a department in connection with the relationship between employees.
  • Mr. Johnson: One of the greatest challenges when it comes to managing employee relationships is how to balance between the company’s interest and the wellbeing of the employees.However, the company conducts monitoring and evaluation processes on the company’s productivity and performance of the employees. Based on the findings of the evaluation process, the company is able to develop ways through which the wellbeing of the company and that of the employees is balanced. Ensuring that all the employees fully embrace the company’s code of ethics is a challenge to the human resource department. This is because, though some employees are aware of what to do or not to do, external forces and selfish interests may encourage them to fail in observing the work ethics. The employees may get involved in criminal or immoral activities so as to satisfy their selfish needs. Despite this, training and educating the employees on the need to observe ethics when working has been very instrumental in curbing unethical behavior in employees. As a company, we have been involved in establishing positive employee relationship programs between our employees and those of the other companies. This has aimed at assisting the employees to interact and learn from each other.
  • Mary: Thank you very much Mr. Johnson for your time and willingness to talk to me. I appreciate having talked to you. All the best in your work.

    How Aristotle’s Ideas would respond to the raised Issues

According to Aristotle, human relationships have great social importance in the society. In addition, good human behavior at the place of work is very important .The kind of human behavior that employees display determine whether they are able to develop and practice good morals. Having good working relationships promotes positive friendship between workers and it is this kind of friendship that acts as one of the cornerstones in the formation of the human society.

In this case, virtues become a base upon which people develop a certain behaviour.Aristotle considers friendship as a way through which people can become themselves (Jori, A.2003) where people sometimes enjoy being in each other’ company. Based on this, a company‘s employees enjoy working together if they relate well and the human resource department in the company promotes a society’s social network when it promotes good relationships between its employees.

Taking care of the employees’ needs promote healthy relationships between the employees and the company’s management. When people have their needs taken care of, they get what they deserve. This promotes a just society, where human relationship is maintained by just treatment as Aristotle states. This eliminates any feelings of discomfort, discontent, and of being exploited. When employees develop positive attitude towards their work, they also develop healthy relationships between each other. This acts an ingredient to a flourishing (happy) community life, which Aristotle sees as being very important.

Aristotle sees virtues, good values, and morals as being very important in a human society and in order for something to function properly, virtues must be present. The company’s code of ethics is one way through which the company attempts to ensure that the employees cultivate virtues. The employees are then encouraged to act in an ethical manner. The workers are also encouraged to embrace good morals as they work so that virtues dictate the employee behavior. A morally upright society can then be formed and maintained, just like Aristotle advocates for.


Aristotle is recognized for his work in promoting morality, science, and logic in the human society. His work has continued to play a very important role, many years after it was documented. Communication in the society assists people to understand who they are, as well as their self-worth. By understanding that people are part of the community, workers are able to derive their sense of value. The integrity of people is achieved when people live in harmony and   consider virtues as important in life.


  1. Jori, A. (2003).Aristotle’s First Principles. Oxford: Clarendon Press
  2. Ostwald, M. (1962). Nicomachean Ethics: Aristotle. Prentice Hall

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Aristotle, Friendships, Justice, and Work Relationships. (2016, Jul 21). Retrieved from