Justice is the virtue that inclines us to well-ordered and harmonious relations, giving others their due in each situation. We practice it through the discipline of restitution in Steps 8 through 10, where we seek to make amends for the harms we have caused and to mend our relationships.
These Steps focus on the remedial form of justice (fair personal interchange), the other two forms being the commercial (fair exchange of goods) and the distributive (their fair distribution). And within the remedial, they stress the reparative, where we seek to repair and restore, rather than the retributive, which seeks to exact punishment.
As a personal virtue, justice is a character trait that we practice, not something that we demand from others. Where others have harmed us we seek to mend and repair by practicing another virtue, which is forgiveness.
In practicing justice, we make amends because we owe them to those we have harmed, not just to relieve our guilt, regret, or remorse. Though these emotions may initially move us to right action, and though we do wish to relieve them, that is not our primary purpose.
Justice is a cardinal virtue, and as such it is inherent in a number of other virtues, so that in giving thanks, telling the truth, being faithful, and showing courtesy and respect, for instance, we are being just and giving others what is rightly owed them in a particular situation or relationship.
[Image: Bill D., AA #3, also known as "The Man in the Bed." For iconic painting of Bill W. and Dr. Bob visiting him at the hospital, please click on link. His story, "Alcoholics Anonymous Number Three," was written by Bill W. For audio of it and Q&A about it, please click on links.]