A Game-Theoretic Solution to the Inconsistency Between Thrasymachus and Glaucon in Plato’s Republic

Ethical Perspectives 23 (2):383-410 (2016)
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In Book 1 of Plato’s Republic, Thrasymachus contends two major claims: (1) justice is the advantage of the stronger, and (2) justice is the good of the other, while injustice is to one’s own profit and advantage. In the beginning of Book II, Glaucon self-proclaims that he will be representing Thrasymachus’ claims in a better way, and provides a story of how justice has originated from a state of nature situation. However, Glaucon’s story of the origin of justice has an implication that justice is the advantage of the weak rather than the stronger. This is inconsistent with Thrasymachus’ first claim which states that justice is the advantage of the stronger. This is a problem for Glaucon since Glaucon is supposed to be representing Thrasymachus’ original claims in a better way. In this paper, I provide two solutions to this puzzle with the help of elementary game theory.
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Morals by Agreement.Gauthier, David
Plato: Complete Works.Cooper, J. M. (ed.)
Morals by Agreement.Campbell, Richmond
Plato: Complete Works.Cooper, J. & Hutchinson, D. S.

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