Socrates Definition Of Justice Essay

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“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
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The Republic presents two very different views of justice as argued by two skilled thinkers. The beginning of the discussion starts off with Thrasymachus explaining what exactly he believes justice is; “justice is nothing other than the advantage of the stronger.” (338c) Although Thrasymachus’ definition is clear, Socrates attempts to spite him by using a wild comparison, by saying “If Polydamamas, the pancratiast, is stronger than we are and beef is advantageous for his body, then this food is also advantageous and just for us who are weaker than he is.” (338c) This statement from Socrates disgusts Thrasymachus because Thrasymachus was simply referring to “stronger” in the sense of being a ruler, not strong in the sense of being physically larger. To counter Socrates, Thrasymachus explains how different societies are ruled throughout the world whether it be tyrannically, democratically, or otherwise, and how the rulers, those who are strongest, are the ones who make the laws and they do so to their advantage. Thrasymachus establishes this by saying how, “A democracy sets down democratic laws; a tyranny, tyrannic laws; and the others do the same.” (338e) It is clear from this line of reasoning that Thrasymachus has a solid position that justice is, rightly or wrongly, the enforcement of the rule of law as dictated by the “strong leaders” that make the law.

Socrates attempts to disprove Thrasymachus’ definition of
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