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The Dilemma In Defining Good Judgement, And Justice, In Socrates' Definition For Justice.

701 words - 3 pages

In book four of Plato's “The Republic” Socrates defines justice in the individual as analogous to justice in the state. I will explain Socrates' definition of justice in the individual, and then show that Socrates cannot certify that his definition of justice is correct, without asking further questions about justice. I will argue that if we act according to this definition of justice, then we do not know when we are acting just. Since neither the meaning of justice, nor the meaning of good judgement, is contained in the definition, then one can act unjustly while obeying to the definition of justice. If one can act unjustly while obeying this definition, then Socrates' definition of justice is uncertifiable.
Socrates defines justice in the individual as the three parts of the soul doing their job and only their job (433b). The parts of the soul are reason, appetite, and spirit (435c). Reason is the part that thinks and makes judgements. Appetite is the part that is impulsive and acts on bodily desires. Spirit is the part that is emotional, and acts on feelings, such as courage (437a-e). These parts are separated by the principle of opposites, because they conflict with one another, they must be distinct (437b). For example, the appetite to indulge in profane movies, conflicts with the emotion of anger towards succumbing to 'gross' desires (440a, analogous to the Leontius example). Socrates concludes that each part of the soul has a distinct role, and justice is when these parts do their job and only their job (443d). He then proposes that rationality is a part of the soul that governs the other parts, like temperance in the state, it is in charge of the final decision after each part achieves their role. (444b).
This definition fails because it does not tell us how a just person would act in different situations. Socrates' definition fails to give a clear description of justice that is practically applicable to all moral situations. 'Each part doing its job and only its job' does not show us what justice is because it...

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