Thrasymachus Definition Of Justice Analysis

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In the Republic, Thrasymachus has rather compelling definition of justice. He says that it is “...nothing other than the advantage of the stronger.” From this definition Thrasymachus constructs a corollary: the stronger use injustice so injustice itself is more powerful than justice. Is justice simply whatever the current rulers decide it should be, whether in a democratic, tyrannical or oligarchical system? Or is there something more to it, as Socrates argues? One of the potentially faulty arguments Socrates uses to ponder Thrasymachus’ definition of justice involves considering injustice within a single person. In other words, this means thinking about conflict within an individual’s “soul”. In his treatment of Thrasymachus’ position that…show more content…
In effect, Thrasymachus tries to invalidate the entire notion that justice should be a guiding moral principle: a strict or universal definition within these terms is not only unnecessary but also factually incorrect. This view presents an pessimistic position on the nature of humanity, and seems to suggest that there are no intrinsically good ways to live one’s life or structure a society. One could characterize these beliefs as a kind of nihilism. The idea of justice, from this point of view, is purely used under pragmatic…show more content…
Throughout this interaction, Thrasymachus agrees out of annoyance in order to placate Socrates. When asked if “injustice causes factions [and] hatreds” among a group while “justice brings friendship and a sense of common purpose,” Thrasymachus says “I will say it is, in order to not disagree with you” (Plato 351d). This suggests that Thrasymachus has doubts about this position. Socrates’ underlying argument is that even within groups with unjust goals, such as thieves, there must be some kind of internal justice among members or cooperation will be impossible. Without cooperation, all attempts to “act” or accomplish anything will be futile. This may be true; if all members of a group only serve themselves, there will be chaos. However, the claim that Socrates is trying to refute is that injustice is stronger or more profitable than justice. This does not imply anarchical injustice or chaos. Thus, Socrates is not arguing against the situations where injustice is most likely to succeed, but rather where it is least likely to succeed. That is not sufficient to show injustice is weaker than justice. The circumstance that Socrates should actually try to disprove should not presuppose that all members are equal. If there are established hierarchies, chains of command and systems of enforcement, injustice can arise and harmony can remain. In fact, since it would

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