Socrates Definition Of Justice In Plato's The Republic

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Plato’s The Republic: Book 1 opens with Socrates discussing the definition of justice with interlocutors: Cephalus, Polemarchus, and Thrasymachus. Cephalus sparks the debate by offering his definition of justice: And it is this consideration, I think, that makes riches chiefly valuable . . . for the decent and orderly person. Not to have cheated or lied to anyone against one’s will, not to leave for the other world in fear, owing sacrifices to a god or money to a man, to this wealth contributes a great deal (Plato 331 b). He implies that wealth gives an advantage for living a just life – to avoid the fear of being in debt to the gods or to man. The just pay back what is rightfully owned, while practicing honesty. Socrates admires this preaching, but presents…show more content…
For example, someone claims that priests remain infallible after becoming ordained, for the omniscient and omnipotent god they represent works through them. Circumstances in which priests abide by religious law agree with this notion. However, a single corrupt priest contradicts this statement, making it invalid. Similarly, Socrates presses for a definition of justice that always holds true without exception. He questions whether the two criteria given under Cephalus’ definition guarantee a just action. And so, he proposes a counter-event: a madman relinquishes his weapons to a friend, but then experiences a moment of relapse and demands the weapons back – those he rightfully owns. By following Cephalus’ formulation of justice, it demands the friend must return them, which consequently jeopardizes the lives of others. Ultimately, the friend would be carrying out an unjust act. Surely, justice is not limited to honoring legal obligations and honesty (Plato 331 c). Cephalus realizes the flaws in his definition and quickly excuses himself (Plato 331

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