Plato's Criticism of the "Democratic Man'' in the Republic

The Journal of Ethics 5 (1):57-71 (2001)

Authors
Gerasimos Santas
University of California, Irvine
Abstract
The article discusses two puzzles about Plato''s account of the democratic person: (1) unlike his account of the democratic city, his characterization of a democratic person is markedly incorrect. (2) His criticism of a person so characterized is criticism of a straw man. The article argues that the first puzzle is resolved if we see it as a result of Plato''s assumption that a democratic person is a person whose soul is isomorphic to a democratic constitution. Such a person has a desire satisfaction theory of good and adopts liberty and equality of desires as a basis for action. The article then argues that Plato''s criticism brings up two problems endemic to desire satisfaction theories of good, the problem of bad desires and the problem of conflicts of desires. The criticism is that the democratic person''s way of dealing with these problems, by applying the social principles of liberty and equality to his desires, is irrational.
Keywords bad desires  conflict of desires  democracy  democratic man  desires  desire satisfaction  equality  good  Plato   Republic
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Reprint years 2004
DOI 10.1023/A:1011464824304
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