The Ethical Egoist in Plato's Republic Essay

Decent Essays
The ethical egoist is one who believes that it is morally right to act strictly in one's own self-interest. Understandably, this belief poses a threat to social cooperation and, therefore, clearly introduces a significant political problem. I believe that the best example of ethical egoism is displayed in Book I of Plato's The Republic. In this Book, Plato introduces the idea of ethical egoism, explains the political problem posed by it, and addresses the problem through the words of Socrates. I will use this paper to explain and clarify the arguments for and against the concept of ethical egoism, with specific focus on the political problem it poses and the proper approach to addressing that problem, in terms of Plato's social…show more content…
Thrasymachus represents and argues for the ideas of the ethical egoist, which are founded on the concept of pursuing self-interest alone while simply disregarding the interests of others. Thus, ethical egoists wish to completely do away with justice and other similar concepts of moral standards. Thrasymachus believes that "justice is simply the advantage of the stronger" (The Republic, Book I, 338c). He believes that the entire idea of justice is a convention created by powerful men and used as an excuse to exercise power and force weaker men to obey their laws. When men are forced to obey laws, they are then obeying the wishes of the powerful. Therefore, the ethical egoist does not believe that being just is worthwhile because it only works toward the advantage of other people―those people that are most powerful―and thus adhering to justice is not beneficial to us. He believes that a ration and good man will ignore justice entirely. Clearly, the ideals of the ethical egoist pose extreme political problems. Frankly, the entire foundation of a political system is the understanding of justice. The existence and cooperation of a political body relies on justice to provide a common ground from which practical political deliberations can take place. With the understanding that there is no natural moral authority, humans find it necessary to put together and establish the social rules necessary for social cooperation. That
Get Access