“The Intellectualist Foundations of Plato’s Republic” by Rusty Jones (University of Oklahoma)

The thesis of Plato’s Republic is that justice is always good – indeed, that it is always good for the just person and not just good from some impersonal point of view. In this talk I venture an account of why Socrates is concerned to establish exactly this point. I argue that intellectualism about virtue – the view that virtue, and justice in particular, is or crucially involves a kind of knowledge – makes it particularly urgent to establish that justice is always good; denial of that thesis would threaten the coherence of intellectualism. I then show how Socrates’ main line of argument neutralizes this threat. Finally, I speculate on a resultant puzzle: If intellectualism motivates both the thesis and the main argumentative structure of the Republic, how are we to square that with the famous anti-intellectualism of Book 4?