Democracy in the Republic: Practical Support for an Imperfect Regime Open Access

Tucek, Aaron Michael (2015)

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This paper launches the broad philosophical project of building a robust justification for the continued value of democracy in the rapidly changing world of the Information Age. This project proceeds by creating a dialogue between the great political theorists of antiquity and modernity. This paper provides the opening act of this conversation by exploring the treatment of democracy in the Republic, the Western world's foundational work of philosophy. It challenges the conventional wisdom that the Republic is simply undemocratic, and argues instead that Plato provides a qualified support for democracy. These conclusions are reached through a detailed analysis of the text's setting, historical context, dramatic elements, and philosophical content. Ultimately, these analyses suggest that Plato values democracy for its rhetorical usefulness, its political reality in Athens, and its philosophic virtue. Although the Republic clearly displays the imperfections of democratic government, this paper contends that Plato ultimately treats democracy as the practical regime most likely to provide good governance and as therefore the best realistic alternative to Socrates' ideal regime.

Table of Contents

Introduction: the Question of Democracy 1

Chapter One: The Republic in Context 12

Chapter Two: Finding the Value of Democracy 34

Chapter Three: Action and Speech 53

Chapter Four: Democracy in Book VIII 86

Conclusion: Democracy in the Republic 113

Works Cited 116

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