Capt Kirchhoff – M3
6 Feb 2015
Philos Paper The content of this paper is coming from the Republic written by Plato. This book can be found in the text Classics of Moral and Political Theory written by Micheal L. Morgan. I will be critiquing Glaucon’s argument for his definition of justice. The foundation of my analysis comes from Socrates definition of a soul and justice; being that justice is bitrinsic. I plan to prove this by analyzing Glaucon’s argument while also showing you what Socrates has to say on the matter. Then finally I will give my thoughts on what justice really is. Glaucon defined what justice is before he delivered his argument. He says 358a “That is not what the masses think. On the contrary, they think it is of the burdensome kind: the one that must be practiced for the sake of the rewards and the popularity that are the consequences of a good reputation but that is to be avoided as intrinsically burdensome.” I believe this definition is a good one in terms of its focus. Glaucon is saying that justice is extrinsic, being that people only practice justice for the sake of something else. That something else in this case is: money, rewards, good reputation, the hearts of others, etc. Glaucon set up his argument with three different points he wanted prove. The first point he deliberated on was what people considered justice to be and its origins. The second point he discussed was whether people actually practice justice willingly for the sake of good. The third point Glaucon talked about why people do not practice justice for the sake of the good but act like they do. Glaucon stated a few premises that ultimately led up to his conclusion of what people considered justice to be.
The first point Glaucon talks about is the base of his argument, 358c “People say, you see, that to do injustice is naturally good and to suffer injustice bad. But the badness of suffering it far exceeds the goodness of doing it. Hence those who have done and suffered injustice and who have tasted both—the ones who lack the power to do it and avoid suffering it—decide that it is profitable to come to an agreement with each other neither to do injustice nor to suffer it. As a result, they begin to make laws and covenants; and what the law commands, they call lawful and just.” The first set of premises for Glaucon’s conclusion of the origin of justice is very convincing to me. I only say this because this conclusion sounds exactly like law in America. We, as a society, make laws to protect the people from other people. Whether it is government versus the people or people versus other people, the laws in America were made to protect the people from the wrong doings of others. This is what Glaucon is getting at when he says 358c “the ones who lack the power to do it and avoid suffering it—decide that it is profitable to come to an agreement with each other…”
Glaucon began to make his greatest claim while trying to prove his second point. He stated the premise and conclusion that people only practice justice because they lack the power to do injustice (committing crimes without impunity). He then began to explain his first example. Glaucon explained 358c “suppose we grant to the just and the unjust person the freedom to do whatever they like. We can then follow both of them and see where their appetites would lead. And we will catch the just person red-handed, traveling the same road as the unjust one.” The reason for this conclusion he explains 358c “is the desire to do better than others.” He then brought up the Myth of Gyges of Lydia. This myth is a story about a man who acquired the power to become invisible. The man used this power to seduce a king’s wife and attack his kingdom with her help and take over the kingdom. This is where Glaucon proposed the situation of having two rings, one given to the just man and one to the unjust. Glaucon then preceded 360c “And in so behaving, he would do no differently than the…