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Socratic Justice

I need to answer this question in 3 pages:

At what point do you think Socrates really starts to take control of the argument?

What is justice? This meta-ethical question, that is, a question asking about a moral concept, is the centerpiece of Plato's most famous dialogue, The Republic. Unlike many of Plato's short dialogues, this is a long book. We cannot even begin to attack it properly. However, we can carve out a nice piece that will help us to not only understand more about justice per se, but also about the nature of the Socratic style of argument.

Socrates had a particular type of question and answer method of getting at Truth which came to be known, not surprisingly, as the Socratic method. Teachers today, particularly in the United States, pride themselves on using the Socratic method. However, simply asking questions is not enough. Many think that if they don't lecture, if they don't just tell students what is what, and they ask questions, they are using the Socratic method. Not so. There is much more to it than that. Getting a better understanding of the Socratic method, the method that all philosophers use and the one thing that binds all philosophers together, will be our task in this case.

In The Republic we will be looking at the passage where Thrasymachus argues that Justice is whatever is in the interest of the stronger at section 336b.

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Don't give me a play by play statement, but rather try to find the point where the tide turns in Socrates' favor. This is a judgment call. There is no right answer. I am not going to say, "No, the argument turned two sentences earlier." However, I do want you to give me solid reasons why you think the argument works the way it works.

Please write a three page paper answering these questions and upload your work to Coursenet by the end of the module

Solution Preview

The question here seems to be asking you to do two things; first analyze the argument that Socrates uses to refute the position that Thrasymachus states, which is that justice is always in the interest of the stronger; and second, to use this passage to explain Socratic method in some depth-and it is, in fact, a passage that does illustrate the Socratic method very well.

The first thing you need to do is to figure out Thrasymachus's argument-why does he say that justice is what is in the interest of the stronger? The passage at 339 is where he presents his argument clearly. "The Stronger" in this case is clearly the "established government' which, can be various types of government, but all have in common the control of the society (hence 'the stronger") and the ability to impose punishment on those who transgress against the rules. You can elaborate on this by reading the passage carefully.

Socrates begins his refutation of this position by pointing out something obvious; rulers of a society make mistakes. And when they make mistakes they can act in a way that is not in their self interest. And this presents Thrasymachus with a problem. For he also argues that is correct for people to obey their rulers. But Rulers can make rules that are not in their self interest.

So ultimately, Thrasymachus has twisted himself into a contradictory position, for it impossible to say at the same time, that rulers are the stronger ones in a ...

Solution Summary

The solution provides guidance and advice in putting together a paper on the topic of Socratic Justice (see above for full detail of the original task).