The Republic Essay

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UNIVERSIY OF CALGARY | JUST PERSON: ACCORDING TO PLATO | | | | | PHIL 249: LECT 02 WALTER GLANNON | | | | | | JIMMY TIMAN | 2/16/2011 | The question of why people act justly has been tossed around for centuries. Some Philosophers have suggested that people act justly because they are afraid to act otherwise. The possibility of negative consequences keeps them on the right path. Others Philosophers have argued that people act justly because of one’s cultural moral believe systems and that they want to reap the positive consequences of their actions. Neither of these views however, necessarily regards the value of justness itself as reason to act in a particular way. They each in fact, contend that justness is pursued for the purpose of self-gain, whether that self-gain is pleasing others by one's actions or deterring others from behaving negatively towards you because they have discovered your wayward ways. Plato's "Republic" provides a particularly interesting debate on the topic of justice and what makes an action just. In “The Republic” Plato elucidated his belief that all human actions have a metaphysical basis. He believed the human soul to be central to this basis. He recognized, however, that even the soul has two components, the components of reason and desire. To him reason comprised the higher part of the soul and it must rule over the lower part comprised by desire if the “rule of the best” (the literal definition of aristocracy) was to be achieved. This scenario, by its very nature, assured the manifestation of orderliness and moderation rather than the less appropriate desires which could gain prominence in the absence of the constraint of reason. In effect, to Plato, the optimum

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