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Shvoong Home>Social Sciences>Political Science>Plato's Concept of Justice Summary

Plato's Concept of Justice

Article Summary   by:sunita2409     Original Author: IGNOU
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Plato does not conceive of justice as a mere abiding by the laws, seeing that the intrinsic nature of the human essence. It too is not the victory of the powerful over the powerless society seeing that it defends the powerless against the powerful. An equitable state, Plato contends, is attained considering the welfare of the whole. In a fair society, the rulers, the military, the artisan, all behave in a specified way, as they ought to behave. In such a society, then rulers are prudent, the soldiers are courageous, and all the producers perform self-control or moderation. ‘Justice’ is the essential subject of Plato’s Republic: its sub-title entitled ‘Concerning Justice.’ Justice in Plato’s opinion is a moral notion. Barker says, “Justice is, for Plato, at once a part of human virtue and the bond which joins men together in the states. It makes man good and makes him social.” A more or less identical perception has been mentioned by Sabine. He states, “Justice (for Plato) is a bond which holds a society together.” Justice provides the similarity of what is spoken in the Greek language as ‘Dikaiosyne’, a term which has a wider all-inclusive implication than the word ‘justice’. ‘Dikaiosyne’ means ‘just’, ‘righteousness’. The reasoning Plato’s idea of justice is not regarded legal or judicial, nor is conjoined to the domains of ‘rights’ and ‘duties’, it does not come within the confines of law; it is, as such, related to ‘social ethics’.
The important features of Plato’s conception can be mentioned thus: (i) Justice is another name of righteousness; (ii) It is more the performance of duties than the enjoyment of rights. (iii) It is individual’s contributing to the society in accordance with his abilities, capacities, and capabilities, (iv) It is a social morality; man’s obligation, (v) It is the strength of the social fabric as it involves a web of social system. Prior to suggesting these prospects through Socrates, Plato rejected the then concurrent theories of justice. He condemned the father –son’s (Cephalus – Polemarchus ) theory of justice of traditional morality – justice donating every man his due, to say it differently, ‘doing to others what is proper’ (Cephalus) or ‘doing good to friends and harming enemies (Polemarchus). Plato realized the utility of the traditional theory of justice, which restricts men to do what they are, alleged to do or justice a s phenomena-creating unity. However he did not approve of justice to be good to some and worse for others. Justice is, for Plato good for all – irrespective of the giver or receiver, friends or foes.
Published: February 22, 2008   
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