Plato’s Republic Books I-IV: An Analysis Essay

*This is for educational purposes only. All who plagiarise or otherwise attempt to reproduce this content will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. *

This is an essay with multiple prompts which will be separated onto different pages. This was written for a PHIL2010 class and I didn’t get a 100% on it so if in doubt, please refer back to the original material. 

Glaucon’s Account of Justice

Discuss what kind of a good justice is according to Glaucon’s account of its genesis through social contract.

In the Republic, three types of good are described; the good practised for its own sake, the good practised for its consequences and the ultimate good that is practised both for its own sake and for its consequences (Book 1, 357b-d). The discussion of justice starts off with Glaucon’s account of justice where he explains why justice is a necessary good that people only practice begrudgingly for its consequences. First, he establishes that to suffer injustice at the hands of others is an evil that no one is willing to suffer while to commit injustice benefits the unjust. He argues that justice came from the recognition that the gains of committing injustice are far outweighed by the potential losses sustained from being the recipient of others’ unjust acts. Those who’ve been wronged or who fear being wronged then band together to create a compromise that prevents its participants from committing injustices against others but at the same time keeps them safe from receiving injustice (Book 2, 358e). To achieve this end, they make laws and separate those who follow the laws into the just and unjust, thus he concludes that justice is a manmade construct that leads to the least unhappiness for those involved at the cost of maximum happiness (Book 2, 359a). Therefore, no one would willingly bind themselves to such a construct if not for its effects (Book 2, 359b). He follows up by proposing two thought experiments to show that the natural inclination of man is towards injustice. One of the examples he came up with looked at how both the just and unjust would act if consequences were removed for their actions. Both of them would end up committing injustice but while the unjust man would be able to get away with his injustices, the just man would be caught. This shows that humans are naturally inclined to do what is best for themselves and the laws prevent us from carrying out our natural urges so no one will practice justice willingly (Book 2, 359c). Furthermore, a completely just man who is just for its own sake must endure all injustice directed towards him but cannot avenge himself or commit injustices and appear unjust while a completely unjust man will take every plausible opportunity to benefit himself at the expense of others while appearing to be just. Therefore, the completely just man would be deprived of reward while the completely unjust man would appear just while reaping all the rewards. So, according to Glaucon, there is no intrinsic value to practising justice because to lead a just life is always an unhappier life than to have one of injustice so justice is a good that is practised only for its benefits (Book 2, 360e-362c).