In his philosophy Plato gives a prominent place to the idea of justice. Plato was highly dissatisfied with the prevailing degenerating conditions in Athens. The amateur meddlesome ness and excessive individualism became main targets of Plato's attack. This attack came in the form of the construction of an ideal society in which justice reigned supreme, since Plato believed justice to be the remedy for curing these evils and thus, a useful and necessary part of society. However, he had his own ideas on justice which are played out in the dialects of The Republic, through the character of Socrates. After criticizing the conventional theories of justice presented differently by Cephalus, Polemarchus, Thrasymachus and Glaucon, Plato gives us his own theory of justice according to which, individually, justice is a 'human virtue' that makes a person self-consistent and good; socially, justice is a social consciousness that makes a society internally harmonious and good.
According to Plato, justice is a sort of specialization. Plato in his philosophy gives very important place to the idea of justice. He used the Greek word 'Dikaisyne' for justice which comes very near to the work 'morality' or 'righteousness', it properly includes within it the whole duty of man. It also covers the whole field of the individual's conduct in so far as it affects others. Plato contended that justice is the quality of soul, in virtue of which men set aside the irrational desire to taste every pleasure and to get a selfish satisfaction out of every object and accommodated themselves to the discharge of a single function for the general benefit.
Plato was highly dissatisfied with the prevailing degenerating conditions in Athens. The Athenian democracy was on the verge of ruin and was ultimately responsible for sec rate's death. Plato saw in justice the only remedy of saving Athens from decay and ruin, for nothing agitated him in contemporary affairs more than amateurishness, and political selfishness which was rampant in Athens of his day in particular and in the entire Greek world in general. In additional, Sophistic teaching of the ethics of self-satisfaction resulted in the excessive individualism also induced the citizens to capture the office of the State for their own selfish purpose and eventually divided 'Athens in to two hostile camps of rich and poor, oppressor and oppressed. 'Evidently, these two factors amateur and excessive individualism became main targets of Plato's attack.
The attack came in the form of the construction of an ideal society in which 'Justice' reigned supreme, since Plato found in justice the remedy for curing these evils. Thus, we are to inquire in this study the nature of justice as pre pounded by Plato as a fundamental principle of well-order society. It is to be noted that before Plato many theories of justice were prevalent. The inquiry about justice goes from the crudest to the most refined interpretation of it. It remains therefore to inquire what were the reasons for which he rejected those views. Thus before discussing Plato's own concept of justice, it is necessary to analyze those traditional theories of justice were rejected by him.
Cephalus who was a representative of traditional morality of the ancient trading class established the traditional theory of justice. According to him 'justice consists in speaking the truth and paying one's debt. Thus Cephalus identifies justice with right conduct. Polemarchus also holds the same view of justice but with a little alteration.
According to him 'justice seems to consist in giving what is proper to him'. The simple implication of this conception of justice may be that 'justice is doing good to friends and harm to enemies.' This is also a traditional maxim of Greek morality. The views propounded by Cephalus and Polemarchus were criticized by Plato. The view point of Cephalus was criticised on the ground that there may be cases in which this formula may involve the violation of the spirit of right and his formula does not admit of being taken as a sound universal principle of life.
It is not right to restore deadly weapons to a man after he has gone mad. And the contention of Polemarchus was condemned by Plato on the ground that it was only easy to speak of giving good to friend and evil to enemies. But if the friends only a friend in seeming, and an enemy in reality, then what will happen? Then under such circumstances whether we should rigidly follow the definition and do him good or we may use discretion and do him evil? But to do evil to anybody, including one's enemy was inconsistent with the most elementary conception of morality. Thus, this conception of justice regulated the relations between individuals on individualistic principles and ignores the society as a whole. Thrasymachus who represented the new and critical view, propounded the radical theory of justice.
He defines justice as 'the interest of the stronger'. In the other words, might is right. For while, every man acts for himself and tries to get what he can, the strongest is sure to get what he wants and as in a state the Government is the strongest, it will try to get and it will get, whatever it wants for itself. Thus, for Thrasymachus justice means personal interest of the ruling group in any state or.