Glaucon based his argument in an observation that people seem to believe that it is alright to do wrong, however it is not fine to be or to experience being wronged. Thus, in order to reach a compromise, it is better to avoid the things that would cause harm to others by making a law against it. Glaucon believes that it is in this moment that justice is recognized. In the above discussion, Glaucon challenged the goodness of Justice most especially, its intrinsic goodness.
He further asserts that in the discussion of Justice, its rewards must not be taken into consideration. It seems that Glaucon believes that the rewards would only blur the intrinsic goodness of Justice. Taking into account justice and injustice solely; apart from possibility of rewards and punishment, Glaucon concluded that man would profit more from injustice than from justice. He used this argument to support his claim that justice is not desired intrinsically. To illustrate this further, Glaucon relay the myth of the ring of Gyges.
In the short anecdote, Glaucon explains that if there are two rings of Gyges which both have the ability to make someone invisible–the unjust man would surely reap all the benefits that come with it. However, the just man would proceed in his normal life almost disregarding the power that the ring posses. Glaucon assert that the onlookers would surely think that the just man is an idiot. With this regard, Gluacon explained that the unjust has advantages over the just and thus, unfairness is more desirable, profitable and therefore preferable than acting in accordance to justice.
Justice is also not good in itself since it gives you nothing but being thought of as ‘an idiot’ by other people although he would be praised for his honesty. The primary reason that Galucon questioned the value of justice is due to his lack of satisfaction from the way that Thrasymachus’ idea of Justice was rejected. Another reason was to find out what kind of good Justice is. Also Glaucon emphasize that injustice is better than justice. To this end, Plato might respond that the goodness of things lie in its purpose.
Plato noted that it is through the achievement of excellence that one’s purpose will be satisfied. A good knife is good so far as it cuts. Justice is good so far as it kept everyone fair. A rational person, with respect to Plato’s idea would see justice as a governing virtue that would lead to moderation. Justice according to Plato is doing or fulfilling one’s duty. Gluacon’s idea seems to be logical but in the long run, if indeed it would be agreed upon by all men that injustice is better than justice, chaos will result.
The goodness of justice would only be blatant when its purpose is taken into consideration. Glaucon questioned if it is always better to do justice than injustice. With respect to Plato’s ideas, justice would always be better than injustice because an unjust person is not doing his/her duty. An unjust person in Plato’s discussion of Justice is someone who stray upon his/her duty. A murderer is acting justly with regards to his being a murderer but act unjustly with regards to his being a human being and a man in a society.
Reference: Plato. The Republic.