Socrates

4719 Words Oct 14th, 2013 19 Pages
In Book II of the Plato’s Republic, Glaucon and Adeimantus challenge Socrates’ claim that justice belongs in the class of goods which are valued for their own sake as well as for the sake of what comes from them (Rep. 357 b- 358 a). Unconvinced by Socrates’ refutation of Thrasymachus, Glaucon renews Thrasymachus’ argument that the life of the unjust person is better than that of the just person. As part of his case, Glaucon states what he claims most people consider the nature of justice to be and what its origins are. He proceeds to present a version of the social contract theory:

They say that to do injustice is naturally good and to suffer injustice bad, but that the badness of suffering it so far exceeds the goodness of doing it
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5. Real men, who can commit injustice with impunity, would not submit to this convention.

Glaucon apparently presupposes that the human good is some combination of power, pleasure, and wealth, and that because these goods are limited, humans compete with one another over them. For when Glaucon develops his position, he claims that “what anyone’s nature naturally pursues as good” is to “outdo others and get more and more (pleonexian)” (Rep. 359 c) of “other people’s property,”and to “take whatever he wanted from the marketplace with impunity, go into people’s houses and have sex with anyone he wished, kill or release from prison anyone he wished, and do all the other things that would make him a god among humans” (Rep. 360 b-c) . Humans, on Glaucon’s picture, are naturally competitive, and willing to go to whatever lengths necessary to secure their own private advantage. However, since most people are not potent enough to secure for themselves the lion’s share of these limited goods, and are afraid of losing what little of these goods they have, they agree to the compromise which is the social contract. Thus, their “nature is forced by law into the perversion of treating fairness with respect” (Rep. 359 c). Those rare individuals who can make

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