Interpretation: A Journal of Political Philosophy
The Republic’s paradoxical definition of justice—minding one’s own business—comes mainly from Socrates’ examination of the arts. The definition applies well to artisans who specialize in single trades, but poorly to warriors who meddle in everyone’s affairs. Are the warriors then unjust? Rather than conclude that they are, the paper maintains that justice is conditioned by class and that the justice practiced by warriors (self-sacrificing and homogenizing) differs from the justice practiced by workers (self-serving and differentiating). But because the formal definition never changes, despite the awkwardness of fit, the paper further suggests that something is askew with justice, with its demand for right order, and that the transcendence of justice is a goal which the dialogue secretly endorses. The paper thus supports those scholars who contend that the Republic falls short in its efforts to prove the goodness of justice or who see in the Republic a warning against the perfection of justice.
Community, Warrior, Justice, Order, Part, Plato, Public vs. Private, Republic (The), Whole, Transcendence, Virtue
Coby, John Patrick, "Mind Your Own Business: The Trouble with Justice in Plato's Republic" (2003). Government: Faculty Publications, Smith College, Northampton, MA.
Peer reviewed accepted manuscript.