Response Paper 2

Dylan Wadyka

Dr. Watts

FYS 100, Section 50

3 September 2015

“How does Plato teach the reader about justice through Socratic dialogue?”

            Plato teaches the reader about justice through Socratic dialogue by putting forth various definitions for justice and injustice. Each character has their own definition and opinion for justice and injustice. Through Socratic dialogue, these character debate over the correct definition. Socrates welcomes anyone who enters the discussion by addressing his views about justice. The debates between Socrates and the other men allow the reader to learn more about justice because each one brings forth a new definition and rebuttal of that definition. For instance, the reader learns that justice cannot simply be giving to those what is owed to them because Socrates clearly explains the problems with this definition, such as returning a mad man’s weapon. These various definitions and rebuttals allow the reader to understand that people can have various views on justice and that it can be difficult to find one definition that everyone can agree with. A few of the The rulers in charge can claim that following these laws is just; however, these laws only serve the self-interests of the rulers while oppressing the weak commoners, who lack money and power. These statements cause the reader to question whether or not justice is good and desirable. Socrates’ rebuttals of these views provide the reader a well thought-out defense of justice. All of these conflicting ideas about justice cause the reader to question his or her definition of justice and whether or not justice is desirable.

The Socratic dialogue also allows the reader to picture how an orderly discussion about the definition of justice can occur. In the Socratic dialogue, the men, for the most part, wait for their turn to speak. The debate remains orderly and does not devolve into a shouting match between debaters. Thrasymachus’s abrupt entrance into the argument is the only instance of disorderliness. The orderly debate allows the reader to learn more information about justice than he or she would be able to do if the debate had turned into a shouting match. The reader also learns how to participate in a respectful argument. The ability to debate in a polite and orderly fashion is a great skill to have. Debate is common in the real world and being able to calmly express one’s opinions is a necessary component in any debate.

Plato’s use of Socratic dialogue allows the reader to learn about justice by clearly stating multiple views on justice. The various attempts to define justice in the Socratic dialogue give the reader various opinions on justice. The orderly fashion of the debate makes easy for the reader to understand each character’s view on justice.


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A fairly general answer to the question at hand. Your response should give more of an understanding of what the dialogue is teaching about justice, as much as how it is done. There are a couple of good examples, but your analysis should go much further to explain how these rebuttals and new definitions change the meaning of justice – from what to what. 3/5