The Republic: The Plausibility of Thrasymachus’ Argument on Justice
Essay title: The Republic: The Plausibility of Thrasymachus’ Argument on Justice
The Plausibility of Thrasymachus Argument on Justice
It is my objective in this paper, to illustrate the claims made by Thrasymachus, in The Republic, as argument to Socrates views on what justice is. I will then evaluate the claims, “justice is nothing other than the advantage of the stronger” (338c), and that “a just man always gets less than an unjust one” (343d), in an effort to see how Thrasymachus uses these statements to provoke an argument. Despite the contradictory nature of these statements, I will attempt to show, through the analyzing of Thrasymachus speech, that they are actually related. Thrasymachus uses these statements to create an overall picture of his idea of justice to the people in an effort to get Socrates to retract his statements on what justice is. After analyzing these arguments, I will deduce that Thrasymachus argument is not plausible.
In the time of Socrates, those who were of the ruling class where considered the stronger. It was these people, who lived in the upper echelon of the societal pyramid that had the majority of the power. These upper-class citizens are the ones who make the rules. A ruler has the ability to create laws that are in accordance with his own needs, thus making it to his own advantage. These laws, or a physical form of justice, would then be advantageous to the ruler who created them. This would then make the act of justice an advantage of the stronger.
The people in rule are not always the just people. During the time of The Republic, incentives as well as honor were two attributes that hose who ruled would receive. To an unjust person, these things were desires in their own power-hungry world. To a just man, these things would be arbitrary. To a just man it isnt about outdoing other people, while to an unjust man outdoing everyone is a goal in order to achieve all the glory that would accompany him when he reached the peak.
Thrasymachus is only referring to justice as a set of rules governing a people. If the ruler says something is right, then the people must abide, and that is what is just. But the people in rule are not always just, therefore all the laws they make would not be a form of justice, but they would only be advantageous to that one person in rule. Is justice under the jurisdiction of only one ruler, or should justice expand over all peoples?
Those who are of the stronger may be advantageous to justice, but only as a controller of the rules. A ruler that makes a law for his own advantage is an act of justice that has become unjust. The ruler would then be an unjust ruler, because someone who is just never equates justice with rewards or power. To the people of the lower ranks in society, abiding by the laws is acting in accordance with justice. But because this justice was only invoke in the self-interest of the ruler, then it is unjust. Thrasymachus attempts to debunk the definition of justice as it is found within the society. He says that it is to the advantage of the stronger, but to those who are not of “the stronger” (338c), they are hampered by it. Justice is at the hands of those in power, and injustice is the reins at which they control the persons below them.
Following his argument about justice being the advantage of the stronger, Thrasymachus says that “a just man always gets less than an unjust man” (343d). At first glance, this statement seems contradictory to the statement that he previously upheld. If justice is advantageous to the stronger, than how is it possible that a just man would receive less than an unjust man?
In the case of the ruler, the act of making the laws, or justice was an advantage to him, because he was in a position to suit his own needs. This action then became unjust. The unjust are those who act in ways that account for self-interest and egotism. An unjust person would measure themselves as well as other people in the physical things to which they have esteemed themselves. A just person could also gain some of the physical rewards, but to the just man these things are capricious. Both the just and unjust men seek to move themselves up in life, but an unjust man would want to conquer everyone for their own self-satisfying reasons. The unjust man is power-hungry and will do anything to find himself ahead of everyone. The just man would be the one who studies all night for a test in order to prepare him, while the unjust man would be the one who cheats on the test for the reward of a high grade. If the man who holds justice is unjust, then the justice we live by is false.
Although it seems that the just man never wins, he wins in the moral aspects of self pride and self-achievement. These things, to a just person, are felt through simple achievements. To an unjust person, these things are only felt with the reception of rewards for