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The Republic

by: Thomas nelson

The Republic PHL 2008

Thomas nelson

GPA 3.5

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About this Document

These notes cover the week of February 1, 2016.
Social Ethics
Thaddeus M. Ostrowski
Class Notes
Social Ethics
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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Thomas nelson on Friday February 5, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PHL 2008 at High Point University taught by Thaddeus M. Ostrowski in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 21 views. For similar materials see Social Ethics in PHIL-Philosophy at High Point University.


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Date Created: 02/05/16
Thomas Nelson  Cephalus’ son, Polemarchus, “inherits” argument just as he will Cephalus’ wealth and  power  Polemarchus first says it’s just to give people “what is owed”  Socrates wants him to be more specific about what’s “owed” or “appropriate”  So he says it is good/right to do good to our friends and harm our enemies  Socrates’ objections o Don’t we make errors in judgment about people? → We may think someone is  your friend, but they are not  Dependent upon relationship with someone, but relationship isn’t that  reliable o Polemarchus responds by revising definition so that just person benefits good/just  person and harms bad/unjust person  Give people what they deserve based on what they do or who they are  rather than our relationship to them o Socrates says the good/just person never harms anyone, so neither should we  Thrasymachus bursts in accusing them of “noble naiveté” or “high­minded innocence” o Essential says “might makes right” (tyranny, slavery, Jim Crow/segregation) o It appears he is describing reality whereas Socrates is imagining how things  should be  2 possible theories we might apply to Thrasymachus’ definition o Ethical Relativism – Belief that there is no objective right and wrong  To say something is relative is to say it is a function of something else  Moral Relativism asserts that morality is just a function of the  beliefs/opinions people have  o Ethical Egoism – Belief that one ought always to act in one’s best interests  “Ego” is Latin word for “I” or “self”  Is there a difference between being motivated by self­interest and doing  what is actually best for us?  Thrasymachus’ position is combo of ethical relativism and ethical egoism o There are no objective standards (ethical relativism) and therefore we would be  prudent to pursue our self­interest (ethical egoism) and chumps if we do not  Socrates’ objections o Don’t we make mistakes about what is in our self­interests? Are the weak always  supposed to obey the strong, even when the strong make mistakes? o The ruler rules for the advantage of the ruled (doctors, shepherds)  Moneymaking is distinct from practice of an art (it isn’t getting paid that  makes you a doctor, you are still a doctor if you give free care) Thomas Nelson o It isn’t truly in our interest to be unjust because unjust person does not live best  life  May seem like injustice comes out ahead of justice (they cheat the just,  they get more money than those who don’t cheat on their taxes)  Consider a gang of thieves; they get nowhere unless they cooperate (to be  perfectly unjust would create division and get you nowhere)  Book 1 ends in a deadlock (Aporia) o No definition of justice is agreed on  The brothers Glaucon and Adeimantus say they’d like to believe Socrates, but if they are  not truly persuaded that it’s worth being just for its own sake  They suggest that they remake best version of Thrasymachus’ argument they can (“the  case against justice”) and then Socrates persuaded them by refuting it  Established 2 important distinctions o Appearance (seeming) vs. Reality (being) o Intrinsic (in itself, done for its own sake) vs. Extrinsic (external, done for its  consequences)  Glaucon’s case against justice o People would rather commit injustice with impunity, but fear being victims of  injustice instead  Everyone is concerned with consequences, not interested in justice for its  own sake  All agree not to be unjust (social contract) o The Ring of Gyges is a ring of invisibility that allows its wearer to act with  impunity  Hides our actions but reveals our character (so we’re all egoists) → Power  corrupts  Glaucon says if we give ring to 2 people (one just and one unjust), they’d  act exactly the same o If we’re to determine which life is better (just or unjust person), we must look at  what it is to be just and unjust in itself  Compare just and unjust person in their purest form REALITY REPUTATION Person 1 Perfectly unjust Just Person 2 (Jesus, Socrates) Perfectly just Unjust  Adeimantus’ case against justice o When people praise justice, they never praise justice itself of for its own sake Thomas Nelson  Instead people praise benefits/advantages that come from a good  reputation (Extrinsic → Heaven and hell, The Boy Who Cried Wolf) o The priests have taught us even the gods are corrupt, they can be bribed or  placated  We can atone for our sins through prayer, sacrifice, rituals, etc.  Glaucon and Adeimantus argue that they have been taught to prefer o Seeming over being (appearance over reality) o Extrinsic motivations over intrinsic ones


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