In the course of history, various philosophers have attempted to define justice and distinguish its major components. This paper is aimed at examining the ideas expressed by Thrasymachus. He is one of the characters included in The Republic by Plato. He poses a significant challenge to Socrates, who tries to elaborate his views on the ideal state. Overall, in Thrasymachus’ opinion, justice serves the interests of those people who occupy the positions of authority; furthermore, this set of rules does not benefit those people who follow them.
It is necessary to elaborate his arguments in greater detail and explain why his views exemplify moral skepticism. Additionally, this paper will include the evaluation of Thrasymachus’ opinions. On the whole, these ideas cannot be fully accepted because there are examples showing that community members can make the rulers consider the interests of various stakeholders.
Furthermore, Thrasymachus’ interpretation of justice can undermine the efficiency of the state and deprive the elites of their credibility. This is the main thesis that should be discussed more closely.
On the whole, Thrasymachus argues that justice can be viewed as the norms that are imposed on those people who are disempowered. Moreover, he believes that it serves “the advantage of the stronger and the ruler” (Plato 19). It primarily benefits those groups who were able to assume the positions of authority due to some reasons.
Additionally, he completely dismisses the idea that individuals who are not included in the elite group are able to derive any benefits from being just. These are the core arguments that Thrasymachus advances. One should also demonstrate how this philosopher perceives the ethical norms established in the community.
Thrasymachus’ views exemplify moral skepticism because he challenges the assumption according to which morality is supposed to benefit every member of the society or at least the majority. More likely, it is driven by the needs and priorities of the rulers. Therefore, there is practically no reason for acting in an ethical way.
In particular, a person may comply with the established norms only to avoid the punishment that can be imposed on him/her. This view on morality and justice contradicts the modern views on this issue. For example, one can speak about the ideas premised on the social contract theories. They imply that community members are able to reach an agreement and identify a set of rules that can benefit different stakeholders (Williams, 84).
Additionally, one can also mention the Rawlsian model, which is known as the veil of ignorance. According to it, legislators should introduce norms that can maximize the welfare of different community members and eliminate risks to which they can be exposed. Thrasymachus rejects these models. Thus, one should examine the strengths and weaknesses of his assumptions.
Certainly, Thrasymachus’ ideas cannot be completely dismissed since community members differ in their ability to influence the decisions of policy-makers. Some of them can influence the ruling elites with the help of their financial resources. In this case, one can speak about the impact of lobbying activities. Additionally, the interests of stakeholders do not necessarily coincide.
In fact, these people can enter into conflicts with one another. The key problem is that sometimes, some social groups can be discriminated against on the basis of their race, ethnicity, or religion. Apart from that, one can certainly refer to the totalitarian and autocratic regimes that do not explain the benefits of the norms that they impose on citizens. These examples can be used to justify the opinions expressed by Thrasymachus.
Nevertheless, there are many cases that contradict these assumptions. In particular, one should mention that in the most advanced countries, the ruling elites are made accountable to the community. Moreover, they can be viewed as administrators, rather than rulers. Additionally, it is possible to mention the counter-argument advanced by Socrates, who notes that Thrasymachus’ perception of justice can undermine the efficiency of the state. As a result, ruling elites can eventually lose their credibility as well as power.
Thus, even if ruling classes are driven only by their selfish interests, they have to consider the needs of the community in order to retain their legitimacy as well as the loyalty of other people. This is one of the paradoxes that should be recognized, and Thrasymachus does not speak about this problem. These are the main limitations of this skeptical view on justice and morality.
On the whole, these examples illustrate the main peculiarities of moral skepticism. Such thinkers, as Thrasymachus, are highly critical of justice since it allegedly benefits only a limited number of people who can be viewed as the ruling classes. Yet, modern societies have reached the stage of development when the elites are required to consider the interests of different stakeholders in order to retain their legitimacy.
Admittedly, the concerns expressed by Thrasymachus bear some relevance to the modern-day communities. In particular, these critical views are useful for questioning the motives of policy-makers. Nevertheless, in many cases, this skepticism is not fully justified because it does not explain the actions of the elites.
Plato. The Republic, New York: Hackett Publishing, 1992. Print.
Williams, D. Rousseau’s Social Contract: An Introduction, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014. Print.