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Two Theories of Natural Justice in Plato’s Gorgias

Two Theories of Natural Justice in Plato’s Gorgias AbstractIn Plato’s Gorgias 482c4–484c3, Callicles advances a concept of natural justice: the laws of the polis must agree with nature, that is, human nature. Since human nature is characterised by its desire to get a greater share (pleon echein), nature itself makes it legitimate that stronger human beings get a greater share than weaker ones. Socrates objects: Callicles’ theoretical approach to civic life poses a threat to the polis’ community, its citizens, and to the friendship amongst its citizens. However, Socrates accepts Callicles’ premise, that the laws of the polis must agree with nature (again, human nature). Still, he disagrees with Callicles about the nature of human nature and proposes an alternative theory of human nature, eventually leading to his alternative concept of natural justice. The article explains the arguments underpinning these two concepts of natural justice, including the conflicting understandings of human nature. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Elenchos de Gruyter

Two Theories of Natural Justice in Plato’s Gorgias

Elenchos , Volume 42 (2): 20 – Dec 20, 2021

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Publisher
de Gruyter
Copyright
© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston
ISSN
0392-7342
eISSN
2037-7177
DOI
10.1515/elen-2021-0013
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

AbstractIn Plato’s Gorgias 482c4–484c3, Callicles advances a concept of natural justice: the laws of the polis must agree with nature, that is, human nature. Since human nature is characterised by its desire to get a greater share (pleon echein), nature itself makes it legitimate that stronger human beings get a greater share than weaker ones. Socrates objects: Callicles’ theoretical approach to civic life poses a threat to the polis’ community, its citizens, and to the friendship amongst its citizens. However, Socrates accepts Callicles’ premise, that the laws of the polis must agree with nature (again, human nature). Still, he disagrees with Callicles about the nature of human nature and proposes an alternative theory of human nature, eventually leading to his alternative concept of natural justice. The article explains the arguments underpinning these two concepts of natural justice, including the conflicting understandings of human nature.

Journal

Elenchosde Gruyter

Published: Dec 20, 2021

Keywords: natural right; human nature; hedonism; political community; craft

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