Plato creates a seemingly invincible philosopher in The Republic. Socrates is able to refute all arguments presented before him with ease. The discussion on justice in Book I of The Republic is one such example. Socrates successfully refutes each different view of justice presented by Cephalus, Polemarchus, and Thrasymachus. Socrates has not given us a definitive definition of justice, nor has he refuted all views of justice, but as far as we are concerned in Book I, he is able to break down the arguments of his companions.
In Plato’s Republic, Thrasymachus asserts that justice is the interest of the ruling part in a political community. This is proven wrong in many ways in Book II. Socrates disassembles this theory using undisputed definitions of wisdom and virtue. These definitions of wisdom and virtue are rendered by a ruler’s personal biases. A ruler has a natural internal motivation to gain undisputed expertise of their craft. A ruler of a political community does act through personal motivations, but by doing so inherently considers the interest of the entirety of the community, as the community’s level of justice will prove a ruler’s competency in their own craft.
Justice and discussion as to what it actually is presents as one of the major themes in Plato’s Republic. Plato defines justice as the highest virtue in a state, built on principles of good. Just society is the one, in which everyone fully realizes abilities given to them by nature and rightly practices those abilities and nothing else. Justice is closely related to the person and the ideal state, tying them together. “Justice is a virtue of a soul” (R. 353e) and just like how there are three
Plato and Aristotle, arguably the most important philosophers of their time, both made attempts to define justice. Being that Aristotle was a student of Plato, their ideas share many similarities. Both viewed justice as the harmonious interaction of people in a society. However, Plato defined his ideal of justice with more usage of metaphysics, invoking his Form of the Good, while Aristotle took a more practical approach, speaking in terms of money and balance. Although Aristotle's ideal of justice may seem superior, upon further inspection, Plato's ideal of justice is the stronger.
“What is justice?” This is a question that men have struggled with answering for centuries. Justice should be defined for the sake of all people, especially by rulers who attempt to make fair laws so that their society functions in an orderly fashion. In Book 1 of The Republic, Plato attempts to define exactly what justice is. To help determine this definition, he speaks through the philosopher protagonist of Socrates. Justice is first brought up in The Republic during Socrates’ trip to Piraeus. While traveling Socrates ends up gathering with his interlocutors and together, they talk about justice and how one would define it. Socrates debates with the men about the definition of justice and is presented with a definition of
Beginning in Book I Socrates states clearly that injustice causes war and justice causes the opposite, but by Book V he seems to have a completely different perspective on whether war is just or not. His mind apparently begins to change in Book II when he introduces the second class of people, namely the guardians, with the purpose of defending the city. Throughout Books II, IV and V Socrates discusses the topic of war in light of justice and finally concludes that war is the outworking of the perfectly just city.
Plato’s interpretation of justice as seen in ‘The Republic’ is a vastly different one when compared to what we and even the philosophers of his own time are accustomed to. Plato would say justice is the act of carrying out one’s duties as he is fitted with. Moreover, if one’s duties require one to lie or commit something else that is not traditionally viewed along with justice; that too is considered just by Plato’s accounts in ‘The Republic.’ I believe Plato’s account of justice, and his likely defense against objections are both clear and logical, thus I will endeavor to argue his views as best as I can.
In Plato’s Republic, justice is often characterized as a just act resulting in a just outcome. Moderation is factored into this as well. Moderation allows for not just a being, but for a whole city to continue to function justly. The cardinal virtues that enable justice can also be the same for moderation. Justice and injustice are compared when running a city, but only the just city will cause perfect serenity between all three classes of people. Justice and moderation are distinctly similar but also exquisitely different. Plato distinctly outlines the makings for his just city. The blueprints left behind by Plato are crucial to understanding where justice and moderation factor in to cause a just city to function justly.
In Plato’s Republic he defines justice as “doing one’s own work and not meddling with what is not one’s own” (Plato 139, 433b). This definition begs the question what is one’s own work? Plato states that one’s own work is the work that one’s nature is best suited for, as each person is born with a different nature (Plato 101, 370b). To come to this definition Plato compares justice within the human soul to justice within a city. If Plato can find justice within the city and prove that the individual is only a smaller version of the city then he will have found the form of justice, the aspect by which we recognize justice in anything else.
Throughout human history, humans have sought perfection and the ideal most likely to compensate for the unfairness and defectiveness of their day to day lives. The history of human kind has witnessed many in different cultures. The famous Greek philosopher Socrates, who was born 469 BCE and died some forty years later standing for his ideas and ideals in a famous trial as reported by one of his students, Plato (428-347) BCE, is an example that never dies.
Book I of Plato's Republic could be a standalone piece based on all the important topics discussed between the characters in a mere chapter. One section of Book I stood out to me more than most, and that was Thrasymachus’s definition of justice. His observations on justice are often “seen as the first fundamental critique of moral values”. Thrasymachus describes justice as being in the interest of the stronger with an argument that ultimately holds more weaknesses than strengths.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote “One man’s justice is another’s injustice.” This statement quite adequately describes the relation between definitions of justice presented by Polemarchus and Thrasymachus in Book I of the Republic. Polemarchus initially asserts that justice is “to give to each what is owed” (Republic 331d), a definition he picked up from Simonides. Then, through the unrelenting questioning of Socrates, Polemarchus’ definition evolves into “doing good to friends and harm to enemies” (Republic 332d), but this definition proves insufficient to Socrates also. Eventually, the two agree “that it is never just to harm anyone” (Republic 335d). This definition is fundamental to the idea of a
What is justice? Who decides whether something is an injustice? How do they decide? Justice is a moral quality that involves treating someone fairly with respect to the law. In the United States of America, the Supreme Court is the highest court. Usually juries utilize the determination of if an action is a crime; however, there are times when the Chief Justices are called upon. The system used requires both parties to present arguments that include evidence; a party has to work their way through the courts in order to appeal for the Supreme Court. Because the Supreme Court is an appellate court who operates under the rule of four, the
Plato’s Republic proposes a number of intriguing theories, ranging from his contemporary view of ethics to political idealism. It is because of Plato’s emerging interpretations that philosophers still refer to Plato’s definitions of moral philosophy as a standard. Plato’s possibly most argued concept could be said to be the analogy between city and soul in Book IV, partially due to his expansive analysis of justice and the role justice plays in an “ideal city,” which has some key flaws. Despite these flawed assumptions that my essay will point out, Plato’s exposition on ethics is still relevant for scholars and academics to study, due to his interpretive view on morality and justice.
Plato's Republic is often read as a political work, as a statement of some sort on government, society, and law. This is certainly not a rash reading of the dialogue; it is called the Republic, and over half of it is devoted to the construction of a city through speech, a city complete with a government structure, a military, an economic system, and laws. However, I believe that to read the Republic as a political statement is inaccurate. Although Socrates and his companions construct a city out of speech as they attempt to define justice, the dialogue repeatedly frames justice as something that cannot be established through a fixed system of morality, let alone through a rigid