Plato on the sovereignty of law

In Ryan Balot (ed.), The Blackwell Companion to Greek and Roman Political Thought. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 367-381 (2009)

Abstract

This paper is in part an introduction to Plato's late political philosophy. In the central sections, I look at Plato's Laws and Statesman and ask the question of how law can produce authentic virtue. If law is merely coercive or habituating, but virtue requires rational understanding, there will be a gap between what law can do and what it is supposed to do. I examine the solution to this difficulty proposed in the Laws, the persuasive preludes attached to the laws, and suggest that they produce an inferior, passive mode of rational order that falls short of full virtue.

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