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Plato's Division of Goods in the Republic

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image of Phronesis

In the Republic Plato draws a distinction among goods between (1) those that are good in themselves but not good for their consequences, (2) those that are good both in themselves and for their consequences, and (3) those that are not good in themselves but are good for their consequences. This paper presents an interpretation of this classification, in particular its application to the case of justice. It is argued that certain causal consequences of justice as well as factors that are not causal consequences of justice are relevant in explaining why justice is good in itself; and that it is only the reputation for justice and the causal consequences that follow from that reputation that are relevant in explaining why it is good for its consequences.


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