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University of Toronto St. George
Aboriginal Studies

In the Republic, Glaucon and Socrates propose contrasting definitions of the real meaning of justice. Glaucon along with Adeimantus refute Socrates point that states that justice is desired for it own sake. Glaucon declares that justice stems from human 1 weakness, fear, and vulnerability. Since humans have experienced the bad and good side to justice and still lack the power to practice and avoid it, a social contract is created in order to maintain equilibrium between the two extremes. Socrates rejects his theory and proposes his central argument. In this paper, I will prove that Plato’s reply to Glaucon’s version of a social contract is successfully backed up by his ideal city and the unification of the soul through justice. I will also prove that Glaucon’s appeal can be in harmony with the social contract evident in the Crito. Glaucon starts by categorizing justice into three classes: (1) for their own sake, (2) for their consequences, and (3) for their own sake and consequences. Socrates believed that justice belonged in the first category and in return, his argument was attacked by the famous story of the ring of Gyges. The use of this story helps Glaucon demonstrate that humans choose to be just because they fear punishment. The rules that arise in order to maintain justice derives from an agreement made by members of society. He is interested in finding the essence of justice and to him; this is where it all began. The idea that justice is only a compromise serves as the central and most important argument in aiding Glaucon to prove that justice is only desirable for its consequences. It is clear and reasonable for Socrates to classify justice as an intrinsic good but it is questionable when he turns down Glaucon’s version of a social contract that is similar to that present in the 1 Republic (356b-358a) 2 Republic (380a-382b) 3 Crito (79b-83b) Crito. He attacks Glaucon’s view and proposes that through specialization; a principle of justice holds together society in harmony. Socrates suggests that in order to look for 5 political justice, one has to build a city from scratch. This point can be paralleled to Glaucon’s discovery of the beginnings of justice that is found in the covenants that people make with each other. Socrates believes that in order to look for true justice, a city has to be built and one has to examine when justice first enters. Although the two hold contrasting opinions, both have interest in finding the origins of justice, even though they are derived from two separate locations. In Plato’s ideal city, no one is self-sufficient and therefore specialization in one craft would create an efficient society made up of skillful farmers, merchants, carpenters, and other artisans. In this case, it is deeply unfair for Plato’s society to put up with second-rate products and force people to do what they are not best at. He tries to build the city on the grounds of justice, but it is in fact rooted in pure self-interest. He leaves out individual choice because even though a person might be good at what they do, they might not like their job because it may be boring such as: tax collectors. Socrates dismisses this as a “selfish attitude”. At this point, Socrates theory of the so-called just society has various loopholes. He does not appreciate free will and acts in the interest of the greatest number, which leaves out individual opinion. His ideal city is minimal and obviously unrealistic 8 and is attacked by Glaucon who believes that it is more fit for pigs than people. He makes an emphasis on society catering to basic necessities of life, but the need of 4 Republic (358 a-360d) 5 Republic (280c-283 e) 6 R
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