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Unified Agency And Akrasia In Platos Republic

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Chapter Summary

This chapter argues that Plato does and does not disagree with the Socrates of the Protagoras. While he accepts, as all must, that what is called implementation failure is possible, Plato continues to maintain that narrow akrasia, the sort which earns Socrates’ ire is impossible. The Socrates of Republic IV is standing on guard against the Socrates of the Protagoras, who had insisted in uncompromising terms upon the incompatibility of narrow akrasia and a moral psychology committed to highly unified agency. The picture of the soul as an aggregate of homunculi is a picture of a group, not that of a minimal agent, an intentional actor capable of engaging in conscious goal-directed activity. The just person, as highly unified, will be no more liable to akratic conduct than was Socrates’ highly unified hedonist. There is thus a fundamental form of continuity between Socratic and Platonic attitudes towards narrow akrasia.

Keywords: homunculi; moral psychology; narrow akrasia; Plato; Protagoras; Republic IV; Socrates; unified hedonist



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