Front Page Titles (by Subject) QUESTION CXX.: OF EQUITY. - Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas, vol. 2 (Summa Theologica - Secunda Secundae Pt.2)
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QUESTION CXX.: OF EQUITY. - St. Thomas Aquinas, Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas, vol. 2 (Summa Theologica - Secunda Secundae Pt.2) 
Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas. A Translation of the Principal Portions of the Second part of the Summa Theologica, with Notes by Joseph Rickaby, S.J. (London: Burns and Oates, 1892).
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Article I.—Is equity a virtue?
R. Human acts, about which laws are framed, are so many singular occurrences of infinite possible variety. Hence it was found impossible for any rule of law to be established that should in no case fall short of what was desirable; but legislators have their eye on what commonly occurs, and frame their law for that: yet in some cases the observance of that law is against the equality of justice and against the public good. In such cases it is evil to abide by the law as it stands, and good to overlook the words of the law, and follow the course that is dictated by regard to justice and public expediency. And this is the end of equity: hence clearly equity is a virtue.1
§ 1. Equity does not abandon justice absolutely, but only justice as fixed by law. Nor is it opposed to that severity, which abides by the words of the law in cases where it is proper to abide by them: to abide by them otherwise is an error. Hence it is said in the Codex: “Beyond doubt he offends against the law, who holds fast to the words of the law, while striving against the will of the legislator.”1
§ 2. To Augustine’s words: “Once laws are established and sanctioned, it must not be allowed to the judge to judge of them, but to judge according to them,” it is to be said that he judges of the law, who says that it is not a good enactment; but he who says that the terms of the law are not to be observed in this case, does not judge of the law, but of a particular business that has occurred.
§ 3. Interpretation has place in doubtful cases, and in them it is not allowable to depart from the terms of the law without the decision of the ruler; but in clear cases the need is, not of interpretation, but of execution.
Article II.—Is equity a part of justice?
R. As said above, q. 48, a virtue has three sorts of parts, subjective, integral, and potential. Equity is a subjective part of justice. Legal justice is directed according to equity. Hence equity is a kind of higher rule of human acts.
§ 1. Equity in some sort is contained under legal justice, and in some sort goes beyond it. For if legal justice is said to be that which obeys the law, whether as to the terms of the law or as to the intention of the legislator—a weightier consideration; in that view, equity is the weightier part of legal justice. But if by legal justice is meant only that which obeys the law according to the terms of the law, at that rate equity is not a part of legal justice, but a part of justice in the widest sense of the term, marked off from legal justice as going beyond it.
[1 ]Cf. I-II. q. 96. art. 6. (Trl.)
[1 ]Aristotle, Rhetoric, I. 15. nn. 1—12. gives these and other stock arguments for counsel to use when the letter of the law is against his client; and a set of counter-arguments to produce when the letter makes in his favour. (Trl.)