Volume 40, Issue 3/4, Summer/Fall 2016
In Honor of Raphael Demos
The Problem of Justice in Plato’s Republic
Plato’s account of justice in the Republic has been questioned by David Sachs, who charges Plato for committing a fallacy of irrelevance. Sachs’ objection is built on the assumption that Plato has employed two accounts of justice: a vulgar one, and a Platonic one. Insofar as Socrates’ interlocutors hold a vulgar conception, then Socrates should prove to them that being vulgarly just will be benefi cial to them. But Socrates, according to Sachs, never does that. Through emphasizing the dialogues of Socrates with his interlocutors, this essay shows incorrect the assumption that Plato is holding two accounts of justice. The dialogues in the Republic demonstrate that there are vulgar confusions, rather than a vulgar ideology. Furthermore, through defi ning justice as the dominance of reason over humans and politics, and through relating reason to the Good, Plato leaves open the possibility that some vulgar actions conform to his account of justice.