The Republic, By Plato Essay

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In one of his most widely read texts, the Republic, Plato sets out to explore the very nature of the concept of Justice, the various forms it takes in the world, and its relevance to the lives of men. As Socrates states, it is about “the way we ought to live” (I 352d). The dialogue begins by introducing the commonly held view of justice, via Thrasymachus, Glaucon and Adeimantus, as the non-performance of certain types of unlawful or antisocial acts. However, the entire treatise quickly moves on to concentrate on a different meaning of justice, as a form of moral virtue. He wishes to demonstrate that justice and morality are interconnected because humans can only achieve a good life – which he claims is the best way to live – if they have those things that are desirable in themselves (II 357b). Therefore Plato’s argument, as it sets out to prove the intrinsic value of living a just life, is neither deontological, nor consequentialist. In the Republic, Plato is arguing for the transcendent value of justice as a human good, or virtue, which informs and guides moral conduct. Plato bases his argument on a new and unique understanding of what justice is and how morally sensitive people are able to learn about the real nature of justice, morality and other virtues. He believes that it is necessary to grasp the true or intrinsic nature of certain virtues in order to make accurate judgements about the appropriate way to act in relation to others, justice and the collective good.

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