Plato and the need for law

Philosophical Quarterly 60 (239):373-395 (2010)
Was there a major change in Plato's views on the role and importance of law? It can be argued that he held in both 'Republic' and 'Laws' that law and administrators are essential to a state of the best kind, but legislators are not, since legislation has been done by the founders. This interpretation seems to be incompatible with passages in 'Statesman', in which the status and role of law appear to be positively downgraded. The appearance of a contradiction between such passages and the insistence in 'Laws' on the importance of law is created by failure to recognize different uses of 'nomoi', as guiding rules of skill or as rules of law. What Plato says about the contrast between ideal and actual rulers commits him to the distinction, whether or not he had clearly formulated it for himself. An afterword recommends Plato's way of handling laws dealing with criminal attempt.
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DOI 10.1111/j.1467-9213.2009.622.x
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