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The Division of Goods and Praising Justice for Itself in Republic II

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image of Phronesis

In Republic II Glaucon assigns to Socrates the task of praising justice for itself. What it means to praise justice for itself is unclear. A new interpretation is offered on the basis of an analysis of Glaucon’s division of goods. A distinction is developed between criterial benefits, those valuable consequences of a thing which provide a standard for evaluating a thing as a good instance of its type, and fringe benefits, valuable consequences which do not provide such a standard. Socrates is expected to praise justice by describing the benefits it constitutes as a valuable activity of soul. He may also use the criterial benefits of justice but not its fringe benefits. This account of Socrates’ task is superior to those interpretations which rule out all use of valuable consequences in praising justice and to those interpretations which fail to preserve the distinction between the second and third classes of goods.

Affiliations: 1: Philosophy Department, Saint Joseph’s University 5600 City Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19131-1395 USA, Email:


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