This is a study of Plato's use of the character Socrates to model what philosophy is. The study focuses on the Apology, and finds that philosophy there is the love of wisdom, where wisdom is expertise about how to live, of the sort that only gods can fully have, and where Socrates loves wisdom in three ways, first by honoring wisdom as the gods' possession, testing human claims to it, second by pursuing wisdom, examining himself as he examines others, to (...) achieve a more well justified set of beliefs about how to live, and third by trying to live wisely, insofar as he can, which includes exhorting others to care about living wisely than anything else. The essay also includes some suggestions about how Plato criticizes and revises this model of philosophy outside the Apology. (shrink)
Aristotle's account of external goods in Nicomachean Ethics I 8-12 is often thought to amend his narrow claim that happiness is virtuous activity. I argue, to the contrary, that on Aristotle's account, external goods are necessary for happiness only because they are necessary for virtuous activity. My case innovates in three main respects: I offer a new map of EN I 8-12; I identify two mechanisms to explain why virtuous activity requires external goods, including a psychological need for external goods; (...) and I show the relevance of Aristotle's distinction between wishing and choosing. On the view I attribute to Aristotle, our capacity to choose virtuously requires, first, that we wish for external goods (because virtue requires the right attitudes of evaluation) and, second, that these wishes are generally fulfilled (because the social consequences and psychological pain of unfulfilled wishes undermine our opportunity to act virtuously and to take pleasure in acting virtuously). I close with discussion of how Aristotelians should defend this approach. (shrink)
Plato argues that four political arts—politics, kingship, slaveholding, and household-management—are the same. His argument, which prompted Aristotle’s reply in Politics I, has been universally panned. The problem is that the argument clearly identifies household-management with slaveholding, and household-management with politics, but does not fully identify kingship with any of the others. I consider and reject three ways of saving the argument, and argue for a fourth. On my view, Plato assumes that politics is identical with kingship, just as he does (...) elsewhere, but he begs no questions because the point of his argument is to identify the public arts of politics and kingship with the private arts of household-management and slaveholding. He does this successfully by answering three reasons why one might distinguish the private from the public arts. His argument leaves room for Aristotle to propose other reasons. One of them—involving differences among men and women and slaves—is unfortunate, but another is more promising. The Aristotelian can assume that political expertise is a matter of know-how gathered by experience of the particular actions which differ in the public and private arts. But Plato might well be right to reject this, and to insist that the essential difference between the expert and non-expert—the dividing line between good and bad rule—is not in experience but in their grasp of their goals. (shrink)
This essay argues that Plato in the Republic needs an account of why and how the three distinct parts of the soul are parts of one soul, and it draws on the Phaedrus and Gorgias to develop an account of compositional unity that fits what is said in the Republic.
The word ‘cosmopolitan’, which derives from the Greek word kosmopolitês (‘citizen of the world’), has been used to describe a wide variety of important views in moral and socio political philosophy. The nebulous core shared by all cosmopolitan views is the idea that all human beings, regardless of their political affiliation, do (or at least can) belong to a single community, and that this community should be cultivated. Different versions of cosmopolitanism envision this community in different ways, some focusing on (...) political institutions, others on moral norms or relationships, and still others focusing on shared markets or forms of cultural expression. The philosophical interest in cosmopolitanism lies in its challenge to commonly recognized attachments to fellow citizens, the local state, parochially shared cultures, and the like. (shrink)
By considering carefully Socrates' invocations of 'compulsion' in Plato's Republic, I seek to explain how both justice and compulsion are crucial to the philosophers' decision to rule in Kallipolis, so that this decision does not contradict Socrates' central thesis that it is always in one's interests to act justly. On my account, the compulsion is provided by a law, made by the city's lawgivers, that requires people raised to be philosophers take turns ruling. Justice by itself does not require the (...) philosophers to rule, but it does require them to obey just laws. I also consider the implications of this view for Plato's politics. (shrink)
Aristotle's treatment of the choice between the political and contemplative lives (in EN I 5 and X 7-8) can seem awkward. To offer one explanation of this, I argue that when he invokes self-sufficience (autarkeia) as a criterion for this choice, he appeals to two different and incompatible specifications of "lacking nothing." On one specification, suitable to a human being living as a political animal and thus seeking to realize his end as an engaged citizen of a polis, a person (...) lacks nothing by possessing a wide range of goods that directly require other people. On the other, more suitable to a god or a beast, a person lacks nothing by having no need of goods that directly require other people. The ambiguity of this criterion renders the choice between the political and contemplative lives difficult. (shrink)
The dominant Greek and Roman ideology held that the best human life required engaging in politics, on the grounds that the human good is shared, not private, and that the activities central to this shared good are those of traditional politics. This chapter surveys three ways in which philosophers challenged this ideology, defended a withdrawal from or transformation of traditional politics, and thus rethought what politics could be. Plato and Aristotle accept the ideology's two central commitments but insist that a (...) few exceptional human beings could transcend the good of human activities. Epicurus argues that the human good is private, not shared. Socrates and some of his followers, including especially the Stoics, argue that the activities central to the shared human good are not those of traditional politics. (shrink)
This paper examines the role of vulnerability in the basis of business ethics by criticizing its role in giving a moral substantial character to fiduciary duties to shareholders. The target is Marcoux’s (Bus Ethics Q 13(1):1–24, 2003) argument for morally substantial fiduciary duties vis-à-vis the multifiduciary stakeholder theory. Rather than proceed to support the stakeholder paradigm, a conception of vulnerability is combined with Heath’s 2004) “market failure” view of the ethical obligations of managers as falling out of their roles as (...) professionals involved in the institution of the market. The result is the core of a theoretically defensible and managerially motivating and deployable ethic. (shrink)
At least since Sachs' well-known essay, readers of Plato's Republic have worried that there is a gap between the challenge posed to Socrates--to show that it is always in one's interest to act justly--and his response--to show that it is always in one's interest to have a just soul. The most popular response has been that Socrates fills this gap in Books Five through Seven by supposing that knowledge of the Forms motivates those with just souls to act justly. I (...) offer some complaints about this gap-filling strategy and offer an alternative account, according to which there was never a gap. On my account, Socrates assumes that no one can have a just soul unless they have been raised well and that anyone who is raised well will act justly. On this view, the account of moral education in Books Two through Four is the key to understanding the connection between psychological and practical justice. I argue that this account makes better sense of what the Republic says, and that it attributes to Plato a more plausible moral psychology. (shrink)
This overview attempts to explain how we can come to an account of Cynicism and what that account should look like. My account suggests that Cynics are identified by living like Diogenes of Sinope, and that Diogenes' way of life is characterized by distinctive twists on three Socratic commitments. The three Socratic commitments are that success in life depends on excellence of the soul; that this excellence and success are a special achievement, requiring hard work; and that this work requires (...) deprecating mainstream values such as wealth, fame, and ordinary political power. Diogenes' construal of success emphasizes freedom and independence, and his construal of excellence emphasizes endurance and self-mastery. On his account, the work required to achieve these is strikingly unintellectual but difficult, and the deprecation of ordinary values is especially extreme. A few interpretive puzzles about Cynicism are tackled along the way, including whether Cynicism really counts as philosophy and whether Cynics are anti-social. (shrink)
Plato's dialogues use several terms for the concept of well-being, which concept plays a central ethical role as the ultimate goal for action and a central political role as the proper aim for states. But the dialogues also reveal sharp debate about what human well-being is. I argue that they endorse a Socratic conception of well-being as virtuous activity, by considering and rejecting several alternatives, including an ordinary conception that lists a variety of goods, a Protagorean conception that identifies one's (...) well-being with what appears one to be one's well-being, and hedonistic conceptions. (shrink)
This lecture explores the political import of Chrysippus' account of why and how one should live as a citizen of the cosmos, and it makes a case for seeing this account as the invention of political cosmopolitanism. (The preprint uploaded here is the final English draft on which the German translation was based.).
I reject the traditional picture of philosophical withdrawal in the Hellenistic Age by showing how both Epicureans and Stoics oppose, in different ways, the Platonic and Aristotelian assumption that contemplative activity is the greatest good for a human being. Chrysippus the Stoic agrees with Plato and Aristotle that the greatest good for a human being is virtuous activity, but he denies that contemplation exercises virtue. Epicurus more thoroughly rejects the assumption that the greatest good for a human being is virtuous (...) activity. He maintains that the greatest good for a human being is the tranquility that virtuous activity always and contemplative activity sometimes brings about. (shrink)
I argue that the Stoics were right to portray Socrates as a cosmopolitan, because this portrait is fully consistent with the Socrates of Plato's Socratic dialogues. His rejection of ordinary political engagement in favor of an extraordinary way of doing the political work of improving others lives by examining them is also the rejection of locally engaged politics in favor of benefiting human beings as such. It is less clear whether his cosmopolitanism is moderate (admitting special obligations to benefit compatriots (...) alongside general obligations to benefit humans as such) or strict (denying the special obligations), but I argue that the evidence of Socrates' attachment to Athens, in the Crito and elsewhere, is compatible with his being a strict cosmopolitan. (shrink)
Plato's Republic centers on a simple question: is it always better to be just than unjust? The puzzles in Book One prepare for this question, and Glaucon and Adeimantus make it explicit at the beginning of Book Two. To answer the question, Socrates takes a long way around, sketching an account of a good city on the grounds that a good city would be just and that defining justice as a virtue of a city would help to define justice as (...) a virtue of a human being. Socrates is finally close to answering the question after he characterizes justice as a personal virtue at the end of Book Four, but he is interrupted and challenged to defend some of the more controversial features of the good city he has sketched. In Books Five through Seven, he addresses this challenge, arguing (in effect) that the just city and the just human being as he has sketched them are in fact good and are in principle possible. After this long digression, Socrates in Books Eight and Nine finally delivers three "proofs" that it is always better to be just than unjust. Then, because Socrates wants not only to show that it is always better to be just but also to convince Glaucon and Adeimantus of this point, and because Socrates' proofs are opposed by the teachings of poets, he bolsters his case in Book Ten by indicting the poets' claims to represent the truth and by offering a new myth that is consonant with his proofs. (shrink)
Introduction to the Scientific Proof of the Natural Moral Law -/- This paper proves that Aquinas has a means of demonstrating and deriving both moral goodness and the natural moral law from human nature alone. Aquinas scientifically proves the existence of the natural moral law as the natural rule of human operations from human nature alone. The distinction between moral goodness and transcendental goodness is affirmed. This provides the intellectual tools to refute the G.E. Moore (Principles of Ethics) attack against (...) the natural law as committing a "naturalistic fallacy". This article proves that instead Moore commits the fallacy of equivocation between moral goodness and transcendental goodness in his very assertion of a "naturalistic fallacy" by the proponents of the natural moral law. In the process the new deontological/kantian theory of natural law as articulated by John Finnis, Robert George, and Germain Grisez is false historically and philosophically. Ethical naturalism is affirmed as a result. (shrink)
The orthodox reading of Sententia Vaticana (SV) 23 emends the sentence and attributes to Epicurus the view that every friendship is choiceworthy for its own sake. I argue that this reading should be rejected, because it singularly contradicts all our evidence about Epicurus' view, according to which only pleasure is choiceworthy for its own sake. I defend the manuscript reading, that every friendship is in itself a virtue, and I argue that anyone who rejects the manuscript reading should attribute the (...) emended sentence not to Epicurus but to one of his followers who altered the Epicurean account of the value of friendship in response to Academic criticism. (shrink)
Positioning Du Bois's arguments in The Souls of Black Folk (1903) within social theory enhances our understanding of the phenomenological dimensions of racial oppression and of how oppressed groups build on members' differences, as well as on what they share, to construct a cosmopolitan and richly textured community. Du Bois wrote Souls just at the beginning of the Great Migration but indicated that geographical dispersion would deepen racial solidarity, enhance the meaningfulness of community, and emancipate individual group members through participation (...) in mainstream society while maintaining their black identity. Du Bois's writings have powerful implications for understanding how to promote racial justice, and contemporary readers might consider that they have implications for social justice more generally. An analysis of black newspapers that were published during the period of 1900 to 1935 illustrates how Du Bois's conceptions were woven into discourse and everyday practices. (shrink)
Despite the bad press, Plato has a valid argument for immortality from three premises: (1) if the natural evil of a thing cannot destroy it, then it is indestructible; (2) the natural evil of the soul is vice; and (3) vice cannot destroy the soul. These premises are contestable, of course, but Plato has some good reasons for advancing them.
In his recent work, T.M. Scanlon has argued for a relationship based theory of blame. For Scanlon moral blame involves the modification of the moral relationship. He holds that this relationship obtains among all rational beings. George Sher has recently argued that Scanlon’s theory cannot account for blame between strangers. Following Sher, I argue that Scanlon’s account of blame precludes complete strangers and that his conception of the moral relationship is fundamentally inconsistent with his theory of blame generally. I contend (...) that Scanlon’s moral relationship, in itself, precludes the possibility of blaming on his account. (shrink)
How does Plato account for political legitimacy in the Republic? In the first half of these brief comments, I consider Fred Miller's proposal that Plato endorses "the rule of reason." In the second, I offer an alternative, according to which it is wisdom that earns rulers legitimacy.
What does Socrates mean by suggesting that no one can understand the nature of the soul "without the nature of the whole" (Phaedrus 270c)? I raise epistemological and metaphysical questions for Mary Louise Gill's proposal that he means us to consider the whole environment, and I make a case for the old-fashioned interpretation that he means us to consider the whole cosmos.
Socrates suggests that no one can know the nature of soul without knowing the nature of the whole. The whole what? Gill proposes "the whole environment" in which the soul is active. I criticize this and argue for the old-fashioned reading of "the whole world.".
Questions about the role of luck in attributions of moral responsibility have troubled theorists for some time. In this paper I will explicate a position that acknowledges luck as a contributing factor to most, if not all, outcomes and consequences while denying luck the exculpatory role that some theorists contend it plays. I begin by going through the characterization of two perspectives on luck offered by Susan Wolf. From there I outline two necessary conditions for the legitimate attribution of praise (...) or blame. The first condition is that of Control. The second condition is the agent's creation of "undue risk". I revisit Wolfs two perspectives and break down the relationship between the necessary conditions and each perspective. I contend that a legitimate theory of moral responsibility must allow for factors outside of an agent's control when attempting to attribute praise or blame. Luck can be seen as one of these factors and it should not be seen as playing an exculpatory role. (shrink)
I defend the Stoicizing view that Socrates in the Euthydemus really means what he says when he says that wisdom is the only good for a human being. By taking the deniers' case seriously and extending my Stoicizing interpretation to the Euthydemus as a whole, I aim to show how the dialogue calls into question three prominent assumptions that the deniers make, assumptions that reach far beyond the Euthydemus and that are made by more than just the deniers. First, the (...) deniers misread Socrates' argument that wisdom is the only good because they misunderstand what makes a protreptic argument successful. I show that the Euthydemus both raises a difficult question about reasons one might have for radical change in view and suggests a sophisticated answer. Second, the deniers' philosophical doubts about the Stoic claim rest on a mistaken interpretation of Socrates' ethical theory. I show that the Euthydemus offers a more plausible picture of Socratic eudaimonism that accommodates the Stoic claim. Third, when the deniers rely on evidence outside the Euthydemus to cast doubt on the Stoicizing reading, they rely on a dubious methodological assumption about how to read Plato's Socratic dialogues. I argue that the Euthydemus calls for a different approach. (shrink)
The last several decades have witnessed an explosion of research in Platonic philosophy. A central focus of his philosophical effort, Plato's psychology is of interest both in its own right and as fundamental to his metaphysical and moral theories. This anthology offers, for the first time, a collection of the best classic and recent essays on cenral topics of Plato's psychological theory, including essays on the nature of the soul, studies of the tripartite soul for which Plato argues in the (...) Republic, and analyses of his varied arguments for immortality. With a comprehensive introduction to the major issues of Plato's psychology and an up-to-date bibliography of work on the relevant issues, this much-needed text makes the study of Plato's psychology accessible to scholars in ancient Greek philosophy, classics, and history of psychology. (shrink)
Two prominent metaphors in Greek and Roman political philosophy are surveyed here, with a view to determining their possible meanings and the plausibility of the claims advanced by those possible meanings.
Plutarch charges that Stoic theory is inconsistent with Stoic political engagement no matter what they decide to do, because the Stoics' endorsement of the political life is inconsistent with their cosmopolitan rejection of ordinary politics (Stoic.rep., ab init.). Drawing on evidence from Chrysippus and Seneca, I develop an argument that answers this charge, and I draw out two interesting implications of the argument. The first implication is for scholars of ancient Stoicism who like to say that Stoicism is apolitical. The (...) argument I reconstruct turns on the political importance of the practice of giving and taking advice, and in this way makes clear a philosophically significant way in which Stoic ethics is itself political. The second implication is for moral and political theorists who are quick to contrast cosmopolitanism with patriotic political engagement. My Chrysippean and Senecan argument shows how Stoics could envision local political engagement as an instantiation of cosmopolitan commitments. (shrink)