So, although the Epicurean wise man will, we are told, act in accordance with virtue, this has to be just because he is himself better off by doing so, and not because he recognises any reason to do so which is independent of his own well-being. In De Finibus I, Torquatus is duly at pains to show that the Epicurean will act virtously. So, we are told that vices such as rashness, lust, cowardice and injustice trouble the mind by their very presence. Moreover, if one acts unjustly, one can never know that this will not be discovered, and so one wil be troubled by the possibility of punishment. As Torquatus points out, reasonably enough, someone who has attenuated his desires in line with the Epicurean injuction to follow only those which are natural and necessary will in fact have little reason to act unjustly. Nevertheless, properly speaking, justice is not to be chosen for itself, but because it provides pleasure. It does so because if one treats other people properly, one will gain their affection, which is pleasant in itself, and one’s life will be made more secure. Thus, although Epicurus recognises that there are requirements of justice – requirements which he seems to have taken to be generated by social contracts – he does not allow that these do not provide reasons for action because justice is in itself a good thing (or injustice a bad thing) but rather because acting unjustly will produce more distress than acting justly: ‘The just life is most free from disturbance, but the unjust life is full of the greatest disturbance‘.
(Epicureanism în From Aristotle to Augustine (coord. D. Furley), Routledge History of Philosophy, vol. 2, 2003 (1997), la p. 216)