University of Tasmania
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The Nature of Justice: A critical evaluation of the nature of Socratic justice in Books I and II of Plato's The Republic

posted on 2023-05-26, 01:57 authored by Dale, PH
In Books I and II of The Republic, Plato raises the arguments on the nature of intrinsic justice and its manifestations for those that are inherently just. Socrates argues that justice is good in itself, rather than for its consequences. He alludes to a series of analogies to demonstrate that justice is exclusive from its methods. (ibid pp. 332c-333e) He also asserts that justice is good for others and benefits them, by arguing that justice entails the maintenance of others and fundamentally creates unity with all those that participate. (ibid pp. 335d; 339e; 342c; 333c; 351a-352b) Yet, Socrates‚ÄövÑvº detractors object to the Socratic doctrine, and argue that justice is instrumental. (i) Justice is constructed under ‚ÄövÑvªnatural right‚ÄövÑvº and the will of the stronger; (ibid p. 338c) (ii) Justice is merely an appearance. (ibid pp. 359a-b) This is illustrated with the analogy of the moral contract and the intrinsic nature of the unjust; (ibid pp. 359a-b; 366c-d) (iii) Both the just and the unjust would act with injustice where there was no detection of wrong-doing. (ibid pp. 360b-c) This is illustrated by the myth of Gyges of Lydia and a ring that enabled the ring-bearer to become invisible; (ibid pp. 360a-b) (iv) Instrumental justice offers greater happiness than intrinsic justice, due to the freedom of action it entails. (Plato op cit pp. 361a-b) This thesis addresses the question of instrumental justice versus Socratic intrinsic justice. Furthermore, it is argued that justice is instrumental and that Socrates‚ÄövÑvº argument does not demonstrate that intrinsic justice is an actuality.


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