Pp8 1 the problem of justice


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Pp8 1 the problem of justice

  1. 1. Chapter 8: Justice The Problem of Justice Introducing Philosophy, 9th edition Robert C. Solomon
  2. 2. Introducing Justice i. Retributive justice: “getting even.” Retribution for a crime is making the criminal suffer or pay an amount appropriate to the severity of the crime. ii. But justice concerns the running of a society as a whole in day-to-day civil matters as well: it includes things like the distribution of wealth in our society, the distribution of privileges and power, enjoyment of society’s cultural gifts, and questions of status.
  3. 3. Two Ancient Theories of Justice • Plato: Everyone has his or her “place” • Aristotle: Individuals are due certain rewards for their labor
  4. 4. Plato (427-347 B.C.E.) • Born into a family of wealth and political power • In Athens, fell under the influence of Socrates and turned his talents to philosophy • Conceived of a “philosopher-king,” the ideal wise ruler, who certainly did not exist in Athens • Disillusioned by Socrates’ execution and devoted his life to continuing his work • Set up the Academy for this purpose and spent the rest of his life teaching there
  5. 5. • First set down his reminiscences of Socrates’ life and death: Using the dialogue form, with Socrates as his mouthpiece, he extended Socrates’ thought into entirely new areas, notably metaphysics and the theory of knowledge • Plato incorporated a theory of morality into his metaphysics and politics, particularly in The Republic • Saw ethics as part of politics and the good life for the individual in terms of the strength and harmony of the society
  6. 6. • In The Republic, Plato argues against the various views of selfishness and hedonism that would interfere • Virtue, he argues, is the harmony of the individual soul as well as the harmony of the individual within the society • Since we have nothing from Socrates himself, it is difficult to know how much is original Plato and how much is transcribed Socrates • Predicate: That which is asserted or denied of a thing, which refers to a property of things; familiar predicates would be “is red,” “is an animal”
  7. 7. Plato on Justice • Justice in the state is precisely the same as justice in the individual, that is, a harmony between the various parts for the good of the whole • But this means that the concerns of the individual may take a clearly secondary role to the interests of society
  8. 8. • In Plato’s universe, everyone has his or her “place,” and justice means that they act and are treated accordingly • Plato’s rigid hierarchy of social classes and insistence on the inequality of people might offend us • It is important to note that equality is a view that must be argued for
  9. 9. Aristotle (384-322 B.C.E.) • One of the greatest Western philosophers, born in northern Greece (Stagira); father was the physician to Philip, king of Macedonia • Aristotle was to tutor Philip’s son, Alexander the Great • For 18 years, was a student in Plato’s academy, where he learned and then parted from Plato’s views • Turned to the study of biology, and many of his theories ruled Western science until the Renaissance • With Alexander until 335 B.C.E. when he returned to Athens to set up his own school, the Lyceum
  10. 10. • After Alexander’s death, the anti-Macedonian sentiment in Athens forced Aristotle to flee • Virtually created the sciences of logic and linguistics, developed extravagant theories in physics and astronomy, and made significant contributions to metaphysics, ethics, politics, and aesthetics • Metaphysics is still a basic text on the subject • Nicomachean Ethics codified ancient Greek morality; stresses individual virtue and excellence
  11. 11. • The best life of all is the life of contemplation, the life of a philosopher, for it is the most self- contained and the “closest to the gods” • Such contemplation must be together with the pleasures of life, honor, wealth, and virtuous action
  12. 12. Aristotle on Justice • Aristotle gives an unabashed defense of slavery, not only on the grounds that slaves are efficient and good for society as a whole, but because those who are slaves are “naturally” meant to be slaves and would be unhappy and unable to cope if they were granted freedom and made citizens. • For Aristotle as for Plato, different people have different roles, and to treat unequals equally is as unjust as it is to treat equals unequally. • We are taught to believe that everybody is an equal.
  13. 13. • Distributive justice—the fair distribution of wealth and goods among the members of a society—comes from Aristotle: individuals are due certain rewards for their labor. • Despite his elitism, Aristotle saw quite clearly that the poorer and less powerful members of a society were those most in need of the protection that a just society provides. • Aristotle made the distinction between justice that rights certain wrongs (in crimes and bad business deals) and the general concern of justice for a well-balanced society.