Socrates and the unity of the virtues

Journal of Ethics 1 (4):311-324 (1997)
In the Protagoras, Socrates argues that each of the virtue-terms refers to one thing (: 333b4). But in the Laches (190c8–d5, 199e6–7), Socrates claims that courage is a proper part of virtue as a whole, and at Euthyphro 11e7–12e2, Socrates says that piety is a proper part of justice. But A cannot be both identical to B and also a proper part of B – piety cannot be both identical to justice and also a proper part of justice. In this paper we argue that coherent sense can be made of Socrates'' apparently conflicting claims. The key to understanding Socrates'' position, we will argue, is the central role of wisdom among the virtues. It is through the relationship of each virtue to wisdom that each may be said to be the same as all of the others, on the one hand, and also that some virtues may be regarded as proper parts of some other virtues, or as proper parts of virtue in general, on the other.
Keywords identity thesis  equivalence thesis  function or εργον  knowledge or έπιστήµη  τέχναι  discipline/sub-discipline
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DOI 10.1023/A:1009710215472
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