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Lecture 10

PHL200Y1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 10: Thrasymachus, Cephalus, Tyrant

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Lloyd Gerson

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November 2, 2015 Plato’s Republic (1)
Yildiz 1
The Republic is a book about the virtue of justice as it exist in the human soul, and it is an
attempts to answer whether justice has a certain property is it beneficial to the possessor
Book II the ideal state is only brought in as an analogy to the soul the only reason he does this
is so we can see justice in a big picture in the macrocosm and having understood what it is, then
we can turn back to the microcosm in order to see where justice is, and how it functions in relation
to other virtues
Socrates ask Cephalus about the benefit of being rich, and he says (1) you can pay your debt, and
not have to cheat anybody, (2) you can be a just person (a fair person)
Cephalus definition of justice: “Justice consists of speaking the truth, and paying ones debt.”
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o In reply, Socrates says aren’t there cases where giving somebody back what is his really
is not justice
o The example Socrates gives is if somebody gives you a weapon for safe keeping, and
then comes back to reclaim their property because they are angry with X and wants to kill
X … if you refrain from giving back the weapon (because the person is acting out of
anger) that would not count as being unjust
o It is not the case that giving somebody back their property is always a case of justice
Polemarchus definition of justice: Justice is helping your friends and harming your enemies
o Socrates response to helping your friendsif justice is helping your friends, then
somebody who is in need might need, say a doctor or a sailor or some other craftsmen,
and if that craftsmen were to help him, this is a case of justice … but, availing yourself to
the service of the doctor does not make the doctor just, medicine is not the same as justice
and if it were it would not help in our case of justice because justice is more than what
medicine is
o Socrates response to harming your enemiesif justice is a technē (a craft) a technē has
objective rules and typically for a technē when it is practiced on somebody else, the result
is that they are improved… If a doctor works on you, he is only a good doctor if he cures
you … or not harms you. If justice is a technē and technē is practiced by harming or
hurting people, then it is not a technē
Thrasymachus definition of justice: “Justice is what is advantageous for the stronger” (335d)
o Who is the stronger? First response might be a Tyrant who might be able to exert power
over other people and make them do whatever they want
o Justice as the advantage of the stronger does not pertain to an individual (like a tyrant) for
example, if a group of people who is stronger, the definition would still hold for them
o In Book X Plato has no regard for democracy, Plato thinks it is not possible for that,
ruled by the people, if they all pursue their own interest could be other than a case of
Thrasymachus definition being put into practice (justice is the interest of the stronger)
! Don’t we have in a refined democracy safe guards to protect the minority, but
though safe guards are determined by the stronger, and if the stronger decided to
remove, decrease or interpret the safe guards differently, nothing would change
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