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The Contender
Con (against)

Did Plato have fallacious reasoning?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/21/2018 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 438 times Debate No: 114111
Debate Rounds (2)
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The burden of proof rests on Pro. The comment section will be open if clarification is needed.

In the "Republic I" written by Plato, Socrates has a dialogue with Polemarchus trying to define justice. This is a segment of the dialogue.

Socrates: "Then in time of peace, justice will be of no use?"
Polemarchus: "I am very far from thinking so."
Soc: "You think that justice may be of use in peace as well as in war?"
Pol: "Yes."
Soc: "Like husbandry for the acquisition of corn?"
Pol: "Yes."
Soc: "Or like shoemaking for the acquisition of shoes--that is what you mean?
Pol: "Yes."

What is being related here?
How is acquiring corn from husbandry related to justice being useful in peace?
Could these be wrong analogies to the argument of determining what justice is like?


I happened to finish reading Plato's Republic just the other day- so It's still fresh in my mind. He does tend to write dialogue at a breakneck pace, but In this particular case I don't feel as if his line of reasoning has suffered because of it.

As far as I can tell, his argument is simply as follows: to harvest crops, you must cultivate land- farming is therefore a prerequisite for producing crops. Similarly, he suggests, justice is a prerequisite for peace. In other words, to reach agreements, we require systems which regulate our interactions. However- this isn't a one way process. We cannot sow seeds without seeds to sow. Once again, the same applies to peace and justice. They are actually co-requisites. I think Plato stresses this because our knee-jerk reaction might be to assume that during times of peace, we do not require systems of justice. Note that before the section that you have quoted, Plato uses the analogy of a healthy man not needing a physician to illustrate this pitfall.
So we are left with a question, which is essentially the question you're asking here. What do we acquire from justice during times of peace? The conclusion Plato and Polemarchus come to is that justice is of when we write contracts. In other words, it is the just man we would allow to hold onto our money, much like it is the farmer we would trust to grow our crops and the shoemaker we would trust to make our shoes.
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for accepting.

Plato wrote "The Republic" to create an argument for a few nondescript definitions of justice; "Pay your debts", "do good to your friends and evil to your enemies," etc. He makes use of analogies, but also creates strawman arguments with his questioning.

I disagree with anyone who says there is no such thing as a perfect analogy. However, they are very rare to come by with only very few people in history able to create them. The analogies that Plato uses specifically implies a causal nature to the objects being related. In your analogy, "We cannot sow seeds without seeds to sow," you imply that justice as a seed needs peace as a seed to grow, a point I wish to counter with the logic Plato was making with the analogy of the professions.

First, Plato builds up the argument by relating justice to the other disciplines people practice. A physician is best used for a person who is ill, a navigator is best used on a sea voyage and a just man is best used in a conflict. What is important to recognize in the logic of identifying justice in this particular manner is the causal nature between the objects, in this case, the person who practices the discipline and the results of such a practice. This is important because when one breaks down analogies through the negative implications, one should not lose the logic of the causal nature of the disciplines.

A person who is healthy does not need a physician, a person who wishes to stay on land does not need a navigator and people who are not in conflict do not need a just man. However, this does negate the reason why those disciplines exist. The discipline of the physician exists because there were sick people, not because there were healthy people. The discipline of the navigator exists because people wanted to travel across the sea safely, not for the reason when people choose to stay on land. The just man exists because there was injustice or a lack of peace, not because people were peaceful with one another. I disagree with your concept that justice and peace are co-requisites, as justice is the cause of peace, but peace is not the cause of justice.

This point is illustrated through analogies above as well. The discipline of justice leads to peace as the discipline of husbandry leads to crop. As more justice is practiced, it produces more peace for the population. As husbandry is practiced, it produces more crop for the population. Plato makes a strawman argument when he asks, "What do we acquire from justice in times of peace," as the very purpose of justice was to create peace as illustrated through the analogies.

I look at these dialogues as trying to find the truth of concepts such as justice, even though this was all written by a specific individual. In this dialogue, Person "A" asks "What is justice?" and person "B" answers "doing good to your friends and evil to your enemies." Person "A" then responds "well if it's like these things happening in a particular manner then how does this definition apply?" Person "A" unfortunately forms questions diverting away from the rationale of why the analogies are appropriate in the first place, creating multiple strawman arguments within the questions.

In my conclusion, I hypothesize Plato did not fully understand the implications of the analogies he was using and created fallacious arguments in his questioning because of it. The alternative is Plato intentionally created fallacious reasoning in response to these analogies being made, which would be an indication of sophistry. I do not see any reason why he would purposefully distort well-known definitions of justice in his time.
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Debate Round No. 2
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Anonymous 3 years ago
The first time I read the Republic, I suspected that it wasn't an actual dialogue, but it was Plato arguing with himself. The answers in response to the character Socrates are from either a very youthful person or the lack of argumentation from one mind. Some philosophers do not share that assessment and I've been reasoning with their assumptions.
Posted by Anonymous 3 years ago
I do know that. Some of the philosophers I have been listening to do not distinguish between Plato and Socrates. I've changed the wording.
Posted by Anonymous 3 years ago
Ummmm you do know that Socrates didn"t write the Republic and it wasn"t his quotes right? Plato wrote it after Socrates does using a fictional story. It wasn"t based on a true story or debate, it was just Plato thinking and having a debate with himself. Socrates probably never said anything in the Republic... please know this
Posted by Anonymous 3 years ago
I would like to accept but the site does not let me as it says I do not meet your requirements.
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