Poli 100, Jan. 2005 – Lecture 2 & 3
Power, Justice, and Politics – Classical views
I. General points:
Theme of the course: the relationship between justice and power in
What is justice? How does it relate to other evaluative concepts in
II. Plato The Republic, Book I.
A. Brief background.
B. Socrates/ Thrasymachus debate – climax of Bk. I.
Socrates (Plato) & Simonides: “that it is just to give each what is owed
to him” (p. 6, 331e).
Surely, Socrates (Plato) is right, in a way….
The Greek terms: “dikaios” and “dikaioisune”
Plato conceives politics in terms of ruling and ruling well.
It’s a “techne.”
Thrasymachus (I): “justice is nothing other than the advantage of
the stronger” (p. 14, 338c)
Surely, Thrasymachus is not quite right:….
Thrasymachus says (quote):
1 “Don’t you know that some cities are ruled by a tyranny,
some by a democracy, and some by an aristocracy.”
“And each makes laws to its own advantage. Democracy
makes democratic laws, tyranny makes tyrannical laws, and
so on with the others. And they declare what they have made
– what is to their own advantage – to be just for their subjects,
and they punish anyone who goes against this as lawless and
unjust” (pp. 14-15, 338 d-e).
Perhaps both (Socrates/ Thrasymachus) are right, in part….
Thrasymachus (II): that injustice is more profitable than justice (pp.
23-24, 347-348) .
III. Confucius, The Analects.
Chinese philosopher and moralist, 551 BCE-479 BCE.
B. Basic points:
Similar to Plato (and different than Machiavelli) regarding virtue and
Confucius (Ch. I, quote):
“He who governs by his moral excellence may be compared to
the pole-star, which abides in its place, while all the stars bow
towards it” (p. 5).
Confucius (Ch. III, quote):
“1. … If you govern the people by laws, and keep them in order by
penalties, they will avoid penalties, yet lose their sense of shame. 2. But
2 if you govern them by your moral excellence, and keep them in order by
your dutiful conduct, they will retain their sense of shame, and also live
up to this standard” (p. 5).
IV. Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince
A. Backround: Machiavelli (1469-1527) was a republican civic humanist;
identified a distinctive morality for politics (princely rule in particular),
but actually favored republican rule.
B. Basic points:
“maintaining the state”:
Two kinds of p