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Greeks and Justice

Write about topics below and write approx. 800-1000 words on each of them. This is a more standard approach to take. The drawback is, you have to have the discipline to stick to a topic, get to your point, and make a good argument in a smaller space. On the other hand, there is more room for error here and there.

Aristotle says in Nicomachean Ethics (1129b), "Both the lawless person and the greedy and unfair person seem to be unjust; and so, clearly, both the lawful and the fair person will be just. Hence what is just will be both what is lawful and what is fair." Compare this with, and make sense of this in terms of, his claim that "justice is complete virtue" (1129b).

"Justice is a mean," says Aristotle, "because it is about an intermediate condition, whereas injustice is about the extremes." The just person "does not award too much of what is choice worthy to himself and too little to his neighbor, but awards what is proportionately equal; and he does the same in distributing between others" (NE 1134a). Thus, justice is a kind of harmony. How is this related to, and an advance upon, Plato's idea in the Republic (433a) that justice is social harmony, that is, "doing one's own work, and not meddling in what isn't one's own"? In other words, even though he is similar here, Aristotle does a better job. How and why?

2. Are the virtues egoistic (not egotistic, that's a different word); that is, do we become virtuous in order to benefit ourselves? Or are we naturally inclined to virtue? This is related to the quest for justice, of course - do we seek justice to benefit ourselves, or for larger reasons? What might those reasons be? (Hint: arguing against Thrasymachus here might be a good strategy; or you could bring in Aquinas's ideas about natural law. Or maybe Plato - it's your discussion. Sophocles would also be good to use here. Try to use one deeply, not several in a shallow way.)


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Greeks & Justice

Hi there! Thanks so much for letting me respond to your post and offer you the best I can. I hope you find the content of this response most helpful for engaging the subject and recognizing your questions and opinions are worth sharing!

Firstly, as far as the directions go, it's pretty clear that your teacher expects 2-3 pages on each question. That to me suggests mini essays on each topic, so I'll be including a way to structure things at the end just in case you need that. Otherwise, I'll be able to give you some ideas to think about and how you should approach each question. The notes you have do not really address anything specific to the questions themselves, just so you are aware.

Secondly, as far as content ideas go, in order of the topics you listed:
A) You'll want to focus on the fact that Aristotle using something called chiasmus in order to prove his conclusion: because X is not true, the opposite of X must also be true. That may sound like a little bit of a fallacy, or a short-sighted argument, which is probably a good idea to pursue when it comes to evaluating his position. However, the real point is that Aristotle does this to support his view that justice is really "complete": instead of having just lawful behavior or just fair behavior, the just person has both - thereby being complete in character. He resolves false dichotomies to support his position, which is admirable - however, it might be the case that he's creating the false dichotomies in the first place, which is a horrible mistake. In any case, you have a lot of topics to write about: what his position is, why he believes justice is "complete," whether or not his conclusion about it being complete is consistent with his views (is it a valid argument), how well he makes his argument (fallacies he includes), and whether or not his views are ...

Solution Summary

Plato's Republic is a huge piece of work, so we might be able to forgive his kind of one-sided treatment of justice as social balance. The main thing to realize about the question is that Aristotle is stating something positive that Plato lacks, namely, taking the "stay out of others' business" and making it positive: "do what is good for others, too." I am not entirely sure what all of the text you have been using to evaluate his argumentation, but I can tell you that if you focus on ways that he takes negatives and makes it positive, you will be answering...