Glaucon vs. Thrasymachus

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In this paper we will show that Glaucon and Thrasymachus' positions on justice are entirely different. We argue that Thrasymachus despite his slippage and confusion between a traditional and immoralist definition of justice, is really intending to illustrate a political system ruled by a rational-minded and exploitative tyrant. On the other hand Glaucon clearly presents justice as a necessary evil originating out of a social contract constructed by the weak of society. He then challenges Socrates to prove to him that the life of a just man is better than the life of an unjust man. In Book I of The Republic we are introduced to the character Thrasymachus who representing the Sophist school argues that Justice is nothing more than the "advantage of the stronger." What Thrasymachus means by this statement is confusing as while it seems he is asserting that the strong have justice he later contradicts himself by arguing that what gets called injustice is justice. Thrasymachus' slippage presents two different accounts of justice which conflict with each other. Although it appears that the immoralist position is what Thrasymachus intended to take due to his slippage, there exists some confusion as to whether the stronger doing justice will benefit the stronger or the weaker. In Book II Glaucon and his brother Adimantus restore Thrasymachus' delegitimization of justice claiming that "… Thrasymachus, like a snake, has been charmed more quickly than he should have been…" (358b). Glaucon defines justice as a necessary evil, and that justice is derived from human weakness and fear. Glaucon argues that justice is practiced not out of its own sake but a good that we only desire for its consequences. Let us map out Thrasymachus' first presentation of justice. Thrasymachus argues in 338e that "… each ruling group sets down laws for its own advantage… everywhere justice is the same thing, the advantage of the stronger." Thrasymachus seems to conclude that justice is everywhere the advantage of the stronger, where the stronger refers to the ruling part of society. He factors justice into this conclusion by asserting that the ruling party- whether it is an aristocracy, tyranny, or democracy, defines justice as obeying the law. Thrasymachus assumes that justice is defined by the ruling party, thus he concludes justice is obeying the law. Given that justice is obeying the law and that the ruling party writes laws that are to its own advantage. We can reasonably conclude that justice is everywhere the advantage of the ruling party or the stronger. The weakness in this argument can be seen in Thrasymachus' point that the means in which a ruling party defines justice is justice. Socrates points out that sometimes rulers completely mistake what is best for them, and so will enforce laws that will be disadvantageous for them- the stronger. At this point Thrasymachus then changes his position on justice arguing "… the just and justice are really someone else's good, the advantage of the man who is stronger and rules, and a personal harm to the man who obeys and serves. Injustice is the opposite, and it rules the truly simple and just; and those who are ruled do that which is advantageous for him who is stronger, and they make him whom they serve happy but themselves not at all…" (343c). Therefore he concludes that justice only prevents an individual's pursuit of his own interests, and thus injustice is more advantageous. From Thrasymachus we are provided with many conflicting ideas of justice: 1) to obey the laws enacted by the ruling party is just 2) to do what is to the ruler's advantage is just 3) sometimes ruler's enact laws that are not to their interest. It almost appears as if Thrasymachus is not attempting to define justice but instead is offering a cynical view on the consequences of justly behavior, and to expose the conflicting ideas within the commonly accepted notion of justice. It is important to note...
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