Tripartition and the Causes of Criminal Behavior in Laws ix

Ancient Philosophy 33 (1):111-134 (2013)
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In this paper I argue that, despite what many commentators have concluded, Plato’s division of three psychological “causes” of criminal behavior at Laws 863b1-e3 (anger, pleasure, and ignorance) is not intended to invoke the tripartite theory of the soul. I suggest that the focus of the division is on an alternative moral psychological picture, one which is better suited to the criminal penology of Book 9. However, I argue, this alternative picture is nonetheless consistent with tripartite theory.

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Joshua Wilburn
Wayne State University


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