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Justice as a Concept of What We Believe

Plato finds that the common element in these views of justice is that all treat justice as if it were something external, and none have carried the issue into the soul. Plato, on the other hand, makes a direct connection between the microcosm and the macrocosm, between the individual and the state, between the structure of the soul and the structure of the ideal state. The nature of justice in the human soul must be paralleled by the nature of justice in the ideal state. Justice is thus something greater than the state itself and is embodied in the human soul.

The view of Glaucon is not unlike that of Machiavelli, who holds that justice is what the Prince says it is. Cicero's ideas on justice are found in the Commonwealth, and Philus tries to show that justice is solely a convention based upon expediency, while Laelius tries to prove that justice is the true and eternal principle behind all law. Scipio then argues that "if justice is not present in a government, such a government is not in any true sense a commonwealth" (Cicero 42). The American system of government is not perfect, but it takes great cognizance of the ideal of justice and seeks to reach that ideal. The article by McElvaine shows the difficulty of defining justice in American society. He points to the fact that Bob Dole and others define justice in terms of what they call "traditional values," reminiscent of Cephalus, while at the same time Dole and the Republicans push the supremacy of the marketplace, which may go against traditional values in search of profit. The American system tries to find a balance of these competing interests and to protect both traditional values and departures from them at the same time.

Cicero, Marcus Tullius, On the Commonwealth. New York: Macmillan, 1976.

Grube, G.M.A. Plato Republic. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 1992.

Machiavelli, Niccolo, The Prince. News York: Bantam, 1981.

McElvaine, Robert S. "To Do or N...

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