Plato on Justice and Injustice

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In The Republic, Plato attempts to demonstrate through the character and discourse of Socrates that justice is better than justice is the good which men must strive for, regardless of whether they could be unjust and still be rewarded. His method is to use dialectic, the asking and answering of questions which led the hearer from one point to another, supposedly with irrefutable logic by obtaining agreement to each point before going on to the next, and so building an argument.Early on, his two young listeners pose the question of whether justice is stronger than injustice, what each does to a man, and what makes the first good and the second bad. In answering this question, Socrates deals directly with the philosophy of the individual's goodness and virtue, but also ties it to his concept of the perfect state, which is a republic of three classes of people with a rigid social structure and little in the way of amusement.Although Socrates returns time and again to the concept of justice in his discourse on the perfect city-state, much of it seems off the original subject. One of his main points, however, is that goodness is doing what is best for the common, greater good rather than for individual happiness. There is a real sense in which his philosophy turns on the concepts of virtue, and his belief that ultimately virtue is its own reward.His first major point is that justice is an excellence of character. He then seeks agreement that no excellence is achieved through destructive means. The function of justice is to improve human nature, which is inherently constructive. Therefore, at a minimum, justice is a form of goodness that cannot be involved in injuring someone's character. Justice, in short, is a virtue, a human excellence.His next point is that acting in accordance with excellence brings happiness. Then he ties excellence to one's function. His examples are those of the senses -- each sensory organ is excellent if it...
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