Plato #1 — Is It Just to Harm Someone? (Rep. 1.

Phil 201 – Dr. T. Hoffmann

“Is it, then, the role of a just man to harm anyone?” (335b) * Socrates wants to establish that justice does not consist in harming anyone. (335e)  First subordinate question: Does harm make people more just or more unjust? (Argument from analogy — the point of departure is what is more apparent in order to illumine that which is less obvious) harm to horses ⇔ harm to dogs ⇔ harm to humans ‘horse virtue’ ‘dog virtue’ human virtue (335b–c)  (Spelling out this analogy in terms of an increase or decrease in virtue) ⇒ Just as horses and dogs become worse in ‘horse virtue’ or ‘dog virtue’ when they are harmed, so men become worse in human virtue when they are harmed. (335b)  (Application of this analogy to justice) Now justice is human virtue (335c)  (Conclusion from  – ) When men are harmed, they become more unjust. (335c)  Second subordinate question: Can just persons make others unjust by exercising justice in their regard? Can good persons make others bad through virtue? (335c–d) (A new analogy) musicians horsemen justice ⇔ ⇔ make people musical make people horsemenlike make people just (335c)  (A similar analogy) the opposite of heat ⇔ the opposite of dryness ⇔ the opposite of goodness (335d) cools things makes things wet harms people  (Conclusion from  & ) The function of a just person [i. e. a good person] is not to harm anybody; only unjust persons harm people. (335d)  (General conclusion) ⇒ “[I]t is never just to harm anyone.” (335e) Note that “to harm people” is understood as “to make someone a worse human being.”

* All quotations are taken from: Plato, Republic, trans. G. M. A. Grube, revised by C. D. C. Reeve (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1992).

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