Of Interest to the Stronger

Socrates menaced by a Lonely Assassin

I finally paid out the drakhmas to get the proceedings (both print and electronic, so over $100 total) of the Athens conference I went to in 2008. Here’s my contribution: “Thrasymachus and the Relational Conception of Authority” (in Patricia Hanna, ed., An Anthology of Philosophical Studies, vol. 3 (Athens: Athens Institute for Education and Research, 2009), pp. 27-36).

And here’s the abstract:

Thrasymachus defines justice as the interest of the stronger/rulers. Hence one might expect him to hold that when the stronger/rulers act in their own interest, they are being just. Yet Thrasymachus says just the opposite – that when the stronger/rulers act in their own interest, they are being unjust. This apparent inconsistency is to be explained by Thrasymachus’s having a relational conception of the notion of stronger/ruler; to act in the interest of the stronger/ruler is to act in the interest of someone stronger-than-oneself, of a ruler-over-oneself. Hence when a subject acts to benefit the ruler, he acts justly, by putting a superior’s interests before his own; but when the ruler acts in his own interest, he acts unjustly, since he pursues his own interests and defers to no superior.

This is something I think almost everyone who teaches Plato’s Republic gets wrong.

, ,

2 Responses to Of Interest to the Stronger

  1. Ashton October 10, 2011 at 5:12 pm #


  2. Black Bloke October 10, 2011 at 9:00 pm #

    You put this up before, right? I know I’ve read something that you wrote about this specifically a while back.

    Also, have you thought about writing your own (brief) commentary on Plato’s Republic?

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes