Plato's Concept Of Democracy And Justice

835 words - 3 pages

Book one of Plato's Republic examines the concept of democracy and justice. Thrasymachus, the Sophist declares that justice is the advantage of the stronger, whereas Socrates argues that justice is wisdom, something good and desirable. According to this in Athenian times, a democracy could not survive with out a system of justice in place. This still holds true in the contemporary Western world.

Throughout the dialogue of book one, Socrates, Cephalus, Polemarchus and Thrasymachus are trying to reach a definition of justice. Cephalus defines justice as "speaking the truth and paying whatever debts one has incurred" From this, justice is nothing more then being honest and living up to your legal obligation. Socrates compares this with returning a weapon to a lunatic in some sense, you owe him his weapon because it belongs to him legally, but if you do not return it to him, it is an unjust act. Returning it would endanger lives of others; so justice cannot be living up to your legal obligation. Polemarchus give his definition of justice to "treat friends well and enemies badly." Socrates argues this by stating, "people often make mistakes about this, believing many people to be good and useful when they aren't and making the opposite mistake about enemies." pointing out that judgment concerning friends is fallible and could end up harming the good and hurting the bad. Thrasymachus defines justice as "nothing other than the advantage of the stronger ....A just man gets less that an unjust one." This shows how justice does not benefit people. Socrates opposes this, stating that justice is worthwhile. Thrasymachus and Socrates agree that "justice is virtue and wisdom and that injustice is vice and ignorance." In conclusion, Socrates comes to an understating of justice, rather then a definition of it. He states that "justice is a soul's virtue, and injustice is a vice." According to this, justice is moral rightness.

The Athenian Democracy principle was majority rule. The assembly of all male citizens in Athens voted on decisions directly. The elected officials did not determine decisions. Few checks on or limits to the power of the assembly existed. Only adult male Athenian citizens had the right to vote in Athens, which excluded slave workers, women and resident foreigners. In addition, there were no lawyers and everyone had to argue their own case. All decisions were final, no appeals.

The system of Justice in place in the Athenian Democracy was the masses opinion of what was...

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