Moral Political City


Plato and John Rawls give to us an account of a moral community in which they both presupposed different views of the human person as order to such community. In this paper, I will attempt to examine what this moral political community is according to Plato and John Rawls. My thesis will support Plato's idea of moral political community which is better than John Rawls because it presents a community with order and a concern for the well being of all not just one. According to Plato in the words of Socrates, " I assume that if a community has been found properly, it has everything it takes to be good." The keywords from this phrase being "found properly" and "has everything to be good." In what follows I will defend this claim: first, by explaining briefly some divisions Socrates made in order to form the moral community; then, I will present the modern viewpoint of a moral political city by John Rawls; Finally, I will comparing these two points of view, and I will show that even though John Rawls view point seems to be more pleasant to many people in today's society, Plato's view point is a better choice for a community to choose.

In the Republic, in which Plato describes the meeting of Socrates and others to discuss the ideal community, Socrates first provided us with a class of farmers and worker to meet the basic needs of the community. He says "one member must be a farmer, another a builder, and another a weaver." After providing people with the basic needs, Socrates provides another class, the guardians, to protect the city's goods. Socrates says, "We need an army to go out and defend all the community's property and all the people." This army Socrates named the guardians. Next, Socrates makes a division out of the class of the guardians to be auxiliaries who will act as the militia, and other to be the guardians proper who will look over the welfare of all the community. Socrates says, "Shouldn't we decide which members of this particular class will be the rulers and which will be the subject." After making these distinctions Socrates, then, makes a story in order for the people to understand why a city is formed in a manner that it needs guardians, auxiliaries, and workers. Socrates says,

"Although all of you citizens are brothers during the kneading phase, God included gold in the mixture when he was forming those of you who have what it takes to be rulers . . . silver when he was forming the auxiliaries, and iron and copper when he was forming the farmers and the workers . . . because you're all related, sometimes a silver child might be born to a gold parent, a gold one to a silver parent, and so on . . ."

This story was made in order for the people to see that an auxiliary or a worker can become a guardian proper if he has the capacity to do it. Also, a guardians proper, son, can become an auxiliary or a worker if he does not have the capacity to do the job of a guardian. In all this I can see that Socrates, being a philosopher and wise, is hesitant to give the answer. Certainly, he has a belief about the matter being said and was ready to give his friends the answer, but after reading the dialogue of the Republic, one would conclude that Plato wants his readers and his questioners to be active participants in the dialogue. This can be seen when Socrates questions his friends, "Can you think of any tactics to make them believe this story." This is the style of Socrates' dialectic. Before one can give an opinion of a subject, that is how it should be, one has to define the subject. Socrates says, "I've got a pretty good idea of what you're getting at, I said, it would help them care even more for the community and for one another. But the future of all this will be decided by popular consensus, not by us." So we can see right here that Socrates has a good idea of what a good community is, but he wants his friends to see it for themselves too.

Just like the notion of a good community