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Philosopher-Kings: The Argument of Plato's Republic by C. D. C. Reeve

By C. D. C. Reeve

A reprint of the Princeton college Press variation of 1988.

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Sample text

And it reveals an important weakness in the elenchus. The latter can refute the man, but his theory, and even his rational commitment to his theory, may remain immune to it. This defect in the elenchus will be driven home more fully by Glaucon and Adeimantus. For they, too, will turn out to be unsuitable candidates for the elenchus. As in the case of Cephalus and Polemarchus, however, it would be wrong to conclude that the elenchus cuts no ice against Thrasymachus' account of justice. 2, it exposes, without adequately explaining, the characteristic defect in accounts of the virtues that identify them as being primarily properties of laws or political institutions.

For Thrasymachus holds that happiness actually consists in pleonectic satisfaction of one's desires. And surely nothing picked out by this specification of happiness can have justice as a homoiomerous essential extensional component. For pleonectic satisfaction of one's desires, which involves having more and more without limit, must, as Thrasymachus and Glaucon both recognize, be unjust satisfaction of them (359C3-5, 348b8-349c6). In this case, the stratagem we employed to solve our first problem is clearly useless.

It draws openly on the ethical judgements of the company, who must use their concept ofjustice both in judging that the tyrant acts unjustly (344a3-b6) and in assessing the evidence that Thrasymachus presents to support a key premise (343dI-q). Its perspective is conceptually internal to their ethical point of view. It reaches (A) by reflecting on the advantages that subjects gain by breaking the laws (being unjust) rather than obeying them (being just). Thrasymachus opens his second argument with an exhaustive list of the types of situations in which justice and injustice operate and in which their results can be compared-notice the generality of the conclusion stated at 343dI-3 (quoted below).

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