The Republic by Plato

1645 Words 7 Pages
In Plato’s Republic Book 1, Thrasymachus argues that morality is the advantage of the stronger. To support his view, Thrasymachus first claims that the governments, which are the stronger parties, always pass laws based on their own interest, and then argues that subjects must always obey these laws, therefore morality is the advantage of the stronger. Socrates gives two sets of counter arguments. First, by differentiating apparent advantage and actual advantage to the stronger, Socrates argues that the obedience to the laws by the subjects can be occasionally not in the actual interest of the rulers. Second, by claiming that all craftsmen only consider the welfare of the recipients of expertise instead of their own interest, …show more content…
Next, he brings in another premise that each form of government proclaims that justice is obeying these laws and injustice is breaking these laws. From these three premises, Thrasymachus concludes that justice is everywhere the same, the advantage of the stronger. Thrasymachus’ definition of justice represents the doctrine of “Might makes right” in an extreme form. By this, he means that justice is nothing but a tool for the stronger parties to promote personal interest and take advantage of the weaker. Here, Thrasymachus treats the ruler as someone who imposes his “rights” by sheer force, and believes that the ruler-subject relation is a zero-sum game. As he states later in Republic Book 1, “ ‘just’ means serving the interest of the stronger who rules, at the cost of the subject who obeys” (Plato, 1941, 25). A perfect example of such a ruler is the tyrant, who has the will and the power to do good to himself and his friends and to harm his enemies. This is not a theory of social contract: it is not suggested that the subjects have ever made a bargain with the ruler, sacrificing some of his liberty to gain the benefits of a social order. Socrates begins refuting Thrasymachus by examining the precision of definitions in Thrasymachus’ premises. As Socrates quickly points out that there is a difference between what rulers believe to be their interest and what is actually their
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