PHL275H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Thrasymachus, Glaucon
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Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Introduction to Ethics – Lecture 2
What is morality?
How does it fit in society?
What does it do? What is its function?
In the reading “What is Right Conduct?” (Plato, p. 2-17), Socrates uses the terms
“morality” and “justice” interchangeably as he discusses the issue of “what is
justice?” with a number of thinkers. Thrasymachus, a Sophist finally enters the
dialogue on page 6, boldly stating his views on justice.
•Says “Justice is the advantage of the stronger”
•Thinks the function of morality is to manipulate people
•Announces this as if it is fact
•Didn’t provide evidence
•Felt this was really self-evident
•He is not talking about petty crooks but major manipulators
•Although Thrasymachus did not give evidence when stating his claim, Socrates
is willing to see if there is evidence to support Thrasymachus’ claim
•If justice is the advantage of the strong, how do we know what is to the
advantage of the strong?
•The strong person is someone acting in their strength
•When a person is not acting in his/her strength, he/she is not a strong person
•This is a very technical definition
•The role of the strong is to look out for the weak
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