Classic Texts in Political Science:
Lecture Three (Thrasymachus)
• Leaders define justice. They decide what is just (the justice system). It is
the advantage of the stronger. This is his initial argument, and is correct
on a certain level.
• Socrates gets Thrasymachus to accept that the rules that are laid down
might not always be the advantage of the stronger. He is saying that
Justice is a kind of knowledge, which is a kind of power. Rulers should be
focused on their own self-interest (when they always aren’t).
• Socrates says knowledge is the basis of rule, so a doctor or pilot is ruling
over you. If ruling is a kind of knowledge, then why doesn’t it operate the
same way as being a doctor? Thrasymachus says that Shepard’s lead
their sheep to the slaughter, and that is the true nature of political rule. He
also goes on to say the unjust are the better.
• The exercise of knowledge is something distinct from the self-interest of
say, the doctor. Thrasymachus says, are doctors guided by knowledge, or
their own self-interest (lie to you so you pay more money for pointless
• Socrates then says that there are three different kinds of stages to ruling:
honor, wealth, and the penalty for being ruled by the worse. He goes on to
talk about the wages of the best men, which is when the people are
indifferent to honor, and wealth, they just want to rule. Trasymachus still
believes that the unjust man is better than the just by this logic.
• Socrates makes three arguments why justices is preferable to injustice.
His arguments are:
o The Just Man: The just man claims no advantage of the just man
(similar), and claims to have an adva