Plato In Class Essay Question Answers

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5 Apr 2011
PHL200 in-class essay exam on Dec 2 nd
5 possible questions, be prepared to answer all of
1.Socrates is searching for the definition of virtue: in which case he seeks a
definition of piety
How does he understand definition and what sort of thing does he take the object
of definition to be?
- there is a distinction between 2 ways of defining something: giving affections to the object,
and giving the nature of an object (what it is like vs what it is)
- he takes the object of definition to be giving the nature of an object
What role (if any) does Socrates conception of definition play in his refutation of
- it does play a role because Euthyphro is attempting to define piety by claiming that what is
pious is what is loved by all the Gods
- however this definition does not suggest the nature of what is pious, and only the affections
(that it is loved by the Gods)
- he proves Euthyphro wrong by getting him to admit that the pious is loved because it is
pious and not pious because it is loved
Would a different conception of definition allow Euthyphro to defend his account
of piety as what is loved by all the Gods? If so, what sort of conception of
definition would that be and how would it differ from Socrates conception?
- It could be possible however the conception would need to change to giving affections to the
object and not the nature of the object. This is different from Socrates who believes in giving
the nature of an object because being loved by the gods would be an affection of the pious
(telling what the pious is like and not what it is)
2.Discuss Socrates claim that is it always worse to do than to suffer injustice. How
does Socrates argue for this claim?
- Socrates emphasizes the care for ones soul, committing injustice would be like disease to a
body, both are forms of corruption
- Socrates claims that justice is necessary and sufficient for happiness
- if x is more shameful than y, then x surpasses y either in pain or in some badness or in
both, doing what is unjust does not surpass suffering injustice in pain, so doing injustice does
not surpass suffering it in both pain and badness, so doing injustice must surpass suffering
injustice in badness, so doing injustice is worse than suffering it
- committing injustice is more shameful than suffering it (therefore worse)
- it is worse to commit injustice because it affects the surrounding community, whereas
suffering it only affects yourself
- He maintains that one should never harm others, not even our enemies
- he denies that there are 3 distinct catagories of avoidance (shameful, bad, painful),
shameful is the only one that matters to him (although badness and pain are included in the
affections of shamefulness)
- there are different ways for things to be bad (in either pain or shame)
What do his arguments suggest about how the claim is best understood? Do his
arguments suggest that it is a claim about what is worse by nomos (law)? Or by
what is worse by nature?
- His claim is best understood by what it worse for others and not just ourselves, because
Polus would argue that no one would ever choose suffering injustice over committing an act of
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