Plato’s Republic generally illustrates Plato’s ideas in the person of Socrates. The Republic was written and structured in such a way that resembles Socrates’ teaching styles. Nonetheless, the philosophical underpinnings of the work were Plato’s philosophical thoughts. The Republic begins with a discussion of Justice raised by Thrasymachus. However, the other characters, most specifically, Glaucon, contends that the way that Socrates resolve the problem and definition of justice put forward by Thrasymachus does not entail an answer.
To this end, Glaucon challenged Socrates to better explain his idea of Justice by critically analysing Justice in itself and not merely through its effects. Glaucon served as a devil’s advocate in the discussion through pointing out possible errors in reasoning through examples and/or stories. He tried to dissect justice in reference to the things that most people believed as justice. He also asked Socrates to try to show where Justice originated. Next he posited the question about the necessity of justice.
He believed that those who practice ‘justice-often do so unwillingly’. He further elaborated that justice is a necessity and not something that is a good in itself. Lastly, Glaucon asserted that the life of the unjust was better than the just one. To start the discussion of Justice, Glaucon first ask Socrates to identify what kind of good does justice belongs. He presented three main categories of goodness. The first classification involves instrumental goods. As the name implies, instrumental goods are composed of those that are seek because of its consequence.
Example of Instrumental goods is wealth. The second was classified as Intrinsic good. This good is valuable regardless of its consequences but because of its own such as harmless pleasure. Lastly, Glaucon specified a type of good that is a combination of instrumental and intrinsic good. It is a goodness that was sought for not only because of its consequences but also because it is good in itself. Justice with regards to the above categories was noted by Socrates in the book, to exhibit both intrinsic and instrumental good.
Justice is good in itself and at the same time produce good consequences. Possessing both intrinsic and instrumental good is designated as the highest kind of good as discussed by Socrates. Glaucon see justice as something that exists due to its necessity. He argues in favour of unfairness over justice. Thus, when he tries to prove his point, he shows that justice is mainly a mean between doing harm/wrong and being wronged/harmed. This concept was elaborated when he established a connection that makes use of the Social contract.
Glaucon emphasized that in the actual world, the acts that are labelled as unjust are mostly those which causes person harm and/or evil. In such case since men need to survive, they enter into a compact and create a covenant that shall prevent hurting and being hurt. In such case, the only things that must be done are those which are deemed lawful. This would serve to control a person’s inclination to harm others while at the same time protecting the individuals from being hurt.