Ideals of Justice and power according to Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Augustine, Aquinas
Two mandatory sources to use for essay:
1. Classics of Political and Moral Philosophy, by Steven M. Cahn; Oxford University Press.
2. A Very Short Introduction to Political Philosophy, by David Miller
Essay Instructions from professor:
Write an essay in three parts, in which you:
1) identify some of the contradictions between Pericles’ praise of democracy and political equality, and the rationales about power and justice provided by the
Athenian admirals’ in their “negotiations” with the Melians,
2) compare the notions of justice between Plato’s Socrates (from Republic) and Aristotle, as well as those of Cicero, Augustine, and Aquinas. (That is a total of five
3) describe how the contradictory conceptions of power and justice illustrated in the debate between the Melians and the Athenians (not the debate itself, but such
contradictory conceptions of power and justice) inform the thinking of the five thinkers we’ve covered (each of them deal with those issues either explicitly or
The question around which to organize your essay is: “How do conceptions and/or ideals of justice inform notions about the legitimation of political authority/power
(including the perceived need for legitimacy, the bases for and means by which it is achieved, and broader, related aims)?
Regarding the broad subject of justice, you can write on their:
1) differing notions/ideals of justice,
2) respective concepts of duty,
3) views on the bases and proper aim of law,
4) views on the best sort of constitution or arrangement of political institutions,
5) particular conceptions of the good,
6) understandings of virtue, and
7) favored means of legitimating political authority, among other related subjects I may not have listed.
Your paper should exceed the minimum length requirement (the longer, the better), and reference specific textual passages to support your assertions. You are welcome
to use the worksheet questions I have sent, as well as those of your peers, to orient your thinking. Think about the conceptual connections between the questions you
have already answered and expand on the themes noted above according to your critical reflections. Use the Miller text where appropriate to substantiate your claims
and/or expand upon your points.
A Thesis Question and Outline for your Short Essay Exam are due (along with your weekly worksheet) on Sunday, October 1st, by midnight (11:59 pm for email time-stamp
This first short essay exam is due in a bit more than three weeks, Sunday, October 15th by midnight (at 11:59 pm for email time-stamp purposes). Strive to submit your
paper by the deadline. If you believe you will need more time you should contact me immediately with a request for an extension that includes a detailed and compelling
explanation of your need for it.
Given the complexity of the works we have read and the multitudinous possible considerations inherent to the subject of justice that you may pursue, this should be an
easy length requirement to meet; the challenge should lie in making it a polished piece of work. Pay attention to your spelling, grammar, and syntax, and be sure to
use standard margins, double line spacing and Times-New Roman font, and either the MLA or Turabian citation style (please no APA). Be sure to edit and revise your work