- Platos Republic Book 3-the middle of Book 4 (stop near the top of page 112just after Socrates describes what justice seems to consist of
- Stephen Smith, Political Philosophy, Chapter 3 and 4
- Question 1: Republic Book 3: On Page 87, Glaucon suddenly asks Socrates a question. He asks whether the best medical doctors and the best judges would be similar in the following respect: just as those doctors are best who know and have experienced both health and sickness (perhaps especially if these doctors have personally suffered from the specific illness they will be treating), in the same way the best judges would be the ones who have experienced both good and evil (and possibly even have committed evil deeds themselves). Glaucon seems to be suggesting that the best judge, for instance in the case where a thief is on trial, would be the judge who herself has been (or still is) a thief.
What does Socrates think about Glaucons suggestion about judges, and what are his reasons?
Do you agree or disagree with the position Socrates takes about judges? (please explain why you agree or disagree)
Question 2: Smith Ch. 3: This chapter raises the question of whether Athens should have tolerated Socrates (that is, should it have let him go about freely and question people)which raises the issue of whether there are (or should be) limits to the idea of tolerance. Whether there are such limits and, if there are, what they should be, is the subject of intense debate here in the US (and in the Western nations generally). Obviously, this is an issue with profound implications for our sense of justice.
If (as I believe) a key component of our conception of justice includes being tolerant of others and their different appearances and ways of life (tolerance for race, ethnicity, gender, religion, political views, sexual practices & orientations etc.), are there or should there be some limit(s) to how tolerant we should be?
Specifically, 1) should we be tolerant of those who reject tolerance as a fundamental principle of justice? (Hint: radicals of both the extreme left and the extreme right do reject it). And 2) should we be tolerant of those whose way of life somehow presents an immediate or long-term threat to civil society (the easiest case would be those who advocate or practice terrorism). Are there important distinctions to be made between the situations in #1 and #2, and, if so, can you describe these distinctions?
Question 3: Smith Ch. 4: The preamble to the US Constitution declares (among other things) that the Constitution is designed to promote the general welfarein other words, to promote the common good. But, as Steven Smith proposes (interpreting Platos Republic), there is a high price to be paid when you are pursuing the common good in terms of the need to limit individual freedoms and liberties. That is, enhancing the common good of all necessarily involves restricting individual freedoms/liberties; the inverse would apply as well (advancing individual liberty/freedom, would have a negative effect on the common good).
Identify a contemporary issue that we are dealing with here in the US, an issue about which you believe it is worthwhile to limit/restrict some individual liberty/freedom, in order to accomplish something that promotes the common good. Explain why you think the trade-off is worthwhile in terms of this issue.
Question 4: (6-7 sentences):
discuss somethingthat has sparked your interest in the readings, it can be something specific.