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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/dsp01dn39x4301
Title: Justice and Prospering: Ancient Debates, Disagreements, and Dilemmas
Authors: Anderson, Merrick E.
Advisors: Lorenz, Hendrik
Contributors: Philosophy Department
Keywords: Ancient
Ethics
Justice
Plato
Sophists
Virtue
Subjects: Philosophy
Classical studies
Ethics
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: The role that morality plays in the good life has been a topic of persistent interest for philosophers throughout the ages. Hobbes’ fool said that justice does not exist and that every person should act in the way that conduces to their own felicity, but long before the dawn of modern philosophy the Greek sophists had claimed that justice does not really exist and that those who are rational will throw off the yoke of conventional morality and act to serve their own self-interest. In this dissertation, I evaluate the earliest theoretical challenges posed to morality as well as the responses these challenges elicited. In the first half of the dissertation, I argue that there was a lively yet poorly-understood debate about justice and happiness (which I call ‘prospering’) well before the time of Socrates and Plato. I begin at the beginning: the Traditional View of Justice as articulated by the didactic poet Hesiod. I then show that later figures sought to undermine the central tenets of this Traditional View by arguing that justice does not truly exist and, to the extent that it does, that it does not serve the ends of the intelligent agent. Finally, I argue that another group of early moral thinkers responded to those who sought to challenge justice and defended the life of justice as the best and happiest life. In the second half of the dissertation, I draw on this early debate to offer a new and historically informed interpretation of Plato’s own defense of justice in the Republic. Engaging with a thorny scholarly debate centering on the division of goods in Book II, I argue against the now-standard interpretation according to which Plato understands justice to be primarily intrinsically valuable. I show instead that he saw justice as contributing to one’s prospering through certain effects that it has on the just agent’s soul. My historically-informed interpretation of the Republic reveals that Plato’s conception of justice is both compelling and philosophically profound, although it is not a conception of justice as an intrinsic good.
URI: http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/dsp01dn39x4301
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog: catalog.princeton.edu
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Philosophy

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