The Definition of Justice - Row with Thrasymachus

Note by , created almost 6 years ago

Plato & the Presocratics (Plato) Note on The Definition of Justice - Row with Thrasymachus, created by S H on 05/05/2013.

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Created by S H almost 6 years ago
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Page 1

1. Polemarchus' Definition of Justice

Cephalus claim: Dikasune - Truthfulness, returning borrowed items. Problems arise when particular instances are inquired into e.g. giving a madman back his gun. 

Polemarchus' claim:Justice is giving to someone what is owed to them

Socrates' four objections: Definition trivial - relies on Tekne yet does not over which object the skill is. A Tekne involves opposites, a skilled runner can also run slow.  It follows that Polemarchus is defining the just man as a theif. Polemarchus states that justice is helping your friends and harming enemies.  How can you determine who is your friend for sure? Punishing a dog makes it more vicious, harmed men only become more unjust. Justness producing injustice. Justness must therefore only involve doing good.

2. Thrasymachus First Definition of Justice: The interest of the Stronger

336d - Thrasymachus questions Socrates' method and asks for his definition of justice

338c -Thrasymachus: ''Justice or right is simply what is in the interest of the stronger party.''

Thrasymachus' definition is Political - the laws of the government are correct to follow.It makes sense that the strong make the laws as they can defend the citizens.It is therefore in the individuals' interest to follow the rulers.

Thrasymachus also states that if you can get away with it, act in your own interest regardless, it being illogical not to. This produces a divide between doing what is right and acting out of self interest.  Thrasymachus argues that it is best to be unjust.

3. Knowledge versus Power in Interest

339b Difference between real and supposed interests of the strong. e.g. is it right for the slave to pass his master the water even if he knows it is poisoned?

Power alone therefore does not satisfy the serving of an interest, it also requires knowledge. Socrates: only knowledge will produce the good.

340c Thrasymachus' response: A ruler cannot make a mistake and be a ruler. A mis-prescribing doctor is not acting under the definition of doctor at that time.

4. The Arguments from Skill (Tekne): Skills as other regarding and without self interest

341c 342e A counter to rulers ruling out of self interest Skills are bettered in the interest of the skill, not the practitioner. e.g. The doctor is not selfish but helps her patients. The ruler must not act in the interest of the stronger therefore, but look after the weaker (the ruled)

Thrasymachus counters with shepherd example:Shepered looks after sheep but in his own interest, eventually killing them for money.  If he solely looked after the sheep, he would not kill them

All Actions for Thrasymachus are out of self-interest or selfishness

5. Skills as Showing Ultimate Self-Interest: The Just Life is worse that the Unjust Life; Self-Interested Behavior Produces a Better Life than Altruistic Behaviour

343d-344d''The Unjust man will pay less tax and when there is anything to be got he will get more than the just man.''

Thrasymachus: From the perspective of the rulers: establish laws in self-interest From the perspective of the ruled: break those laws. There is no benefit from acting morally and it is therefore illogical to do so.

345aSocrates' response: Injustice does not pay better than justice in any case. People are paid to be in public office, being there alone does not reap any benefits. Rulers have to be paid or threatened with punishment to rule.

Polemarchus' Definition of Justice

Thrasymachus' First Definition of Justice

Knowledge Versus Power in Interest

The Arguments from Skill (Tekne)

Skills as Showing Ultimate Self-Interest