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Ethics - Essay Example

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Ethics

A background of the text is first important in order for one to understand the different perspectives from which justice can be viewed. Glaucon argues that justice is pursued by man against his will - a matter of necessity rather than for the goodness of it1. He also thinks that the just man would pursue injustice were he to be immune to the consequences and besides, he ultimately ends up the happier of the two. Glaucon asks Socrates to defend the view that justice is better than injustice (358b-362d). Adeimantus also requires of Socrates to demonstrate that there is value to justice, not just a utility for man to gain certain advantages in society. To answer this, Socrates uses an analogy of justice in the city to portray justice in a person. He argues that a just man does not differ in any way from a just city (435b). Justice is the result of a soul that is well ordered, hence Plato creates three classes of people present in his model city Kallipolis; producers, guardians and rulers. In a just city, these three classes of people are required to display certain virtues that all come into action to ensure that justice prevails in the city: the rulers should create just laws, the soldiers carry out the orders of the rulers and the producers stay in obedience of this authority. The ruler class is supposed to have wisdom to ensure that the entire city operates on the same basis. This wisdom is supposed to trickle down from the governing (ruling) class onto the entire population of the city. It ensures that the city has good judgment (428d). The soldier’s role is to carry out the orders of the rulers and as such is supposed to be well educated to understand the laws as much as possible. Through this, their role in ensuring justice can not be eroded by such things as pleasure, pain, fear and desire (430a). They gain this kind of focus through the virtue of courage and thus help in maintaining justice within the city. The producers on the other hand are required to obey authority. For this to happen, the producers are supposed to possess the virtue of moderation which creates harmony, unanimity and agreement amongst all members of the city. The issue of who is to lead is settled this way and everybody works together thus ensuring justice. Moderation can not be divorced from justice as it enables everybody to play their particular role and “everyone must practice one of the occupations for which he is naturally suited.” (433a). The three classes of people that work harmoniously to ensure justice in the city now lead us to what justice should be in the human soul. The human soul has more than one single driving force; people are indecisive when making some choices, some part of their soul stops them from pursuing their desires and thus there is internal conflict. The part of the soul that is calculative and questions the other part is the rational part of the soul. Then there is the irrational part which is lustful and appetitive (439d). Emotions are created by the part of the soul that is spirited, which in times of internal conflict may ally the rational part against the irrational part of the soul thus the person ends up making a rational decision. The analogy between the city and the person is then clear; that the rational part ...Show more

Summary

Name Instructor Course Date Plato’s “Republic”: The Philosophical Tenets of Justice Justice is an issue that has continually attracted different philosophical inclinations and much often opposite perspectives. Is it merely a convention practiced by mankind in selfish pursuit of the benefits it accrues, or is it a reality that has a defining basis and should be adopted as a matter of principle regardless of the outcomes?…
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