Plato's Introduction to the Question of Justice

By Devin Stauffer

Subjects: Philosophy
Paperback : 9780791447468, 152 pages, November 2000
Hardcover : 9780791447451, 152 pages, November 2000

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Table of contents



1. The Opening of the Question of Justice: Socrates' Exchanges with Cephalus and Polemarchus

Socrates' Objection to Cephalus' View of Justice
Polemarchus' Defense of His Inheritance and the Question of Owed and Fitting
Socrates' Three-Part Critique of Justice as Helping Friends and Harming Enemies

2. Thrasymachus and the Question of the Goodness of Justice

The Opening Exchange Between Thrasymachus and Socrates
Thrasymachus' Definition of Justice
Rulers in the Strict Sense
Thrasymachus' Attack on Justice: The Shephard Speech and Its Aftermath
Socrates' Three-Argument Defense of Justice

3. Glaucon and Adeimantus and Justice as the Proper Order of the Soul

Glaucon's and Adeimantus' Speeches
Justice as the Proper Order of the Soul




An in-depth investigation of the views of justice present in the opening sections of Plato's Republic.


Plato's Introduction to the Question of Justice uncovers the heart of the Platonic analysis of justice by focusing on the crucial opening sections of the Republic. Stauffer argues that the dialectical confrontations with ordinary opinion presented in these sections provide the basis for Plato's view of justice, and that they also help to show how Plato's thought remains relevant today, especially as a rival to Kantianism.

Devin Stauffer is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Kenyon College.


"This book provides a truly illuminating interpretation of the foundations of the Platonic analysis of justice in the Republic. The crucial arguments in Book One of the Republic are explicated with meticulous attention to detail, and the far-reaching implications are spelled out with thought-provoking clarity. This book will prove an indispensable guide to that much read and much studied classic text. " — Thomas L. Pangle, coauthor of Justice Among Nations: On the Moral Basis of Power and Peace

"Stauffer's introduction engages the reader's serious concern from the start by exploring the shortcomings of postmodern approaches to justice, elaborating the stronger approach of Kant while showing what reasonable considerations it excludes, and so leading back to Plato's inquiry as a promising alternative. This book is uncommonly well-written and powerfully argued. " — James H. Nichols, Jr. , translator of Plato's Gorgias

"Stauffer brings extraordinary clarity and dazzling insight to a seemingly familiar text. I have studied and taught the Republic, especially Book One, for over twenty years and Stauffer's book has taught me to see that book afresh. It has revealed to me wholly new dimensions of the dialogue. " — Peter J. Ahrensdorf, author of The Death of Socrates and the Life of Philosophy: An Interpretation of Plato's Phaedo