‘Classical Philosophy: Collected Papers, Volume 3: Plato’s Ethics’ edited by Terence Irwin

Published by Garland Publishing in 1995.


This exceptional book examines and explains Plato’s answer to the normative question, “How ought we to live?” It discusses Plato’s conception of the virtues; his views about the connection between the virtues and happiness; and the account of reason, desire, and motivation that underlies his arguments about the virtues. Plato’s answer to the epistemological question, “How can we know how we ought to live?” is also discussed. His views on knowledge, belief, and inquiry, and his theory of Forms, are examined, insofar as they are relevant to his ethical view.

Terence Irwin traces the development of Plato’s moral philosophy, from the Socratic dialogues to its fullest exposition in the Republic. Plato’s Ethics discusses Plato’s reasons for abandoning or modifying some aspects of Socratic ethics, and for believing that he preserves Socrates’ essential insights. A brief and selective discussion of the Statesmen, Philebus, and Laws is included. Replacing Irwin’s earlier Plato’s Moral Theory (Oxford, 1977), this book gives a clearer and fuller account of the main questions and discusses some recent controversies in the interpretation of Plato’s ethics. It does not presuppose any knowledge of Greek or any extensive knowledge of Plato.

Table of Contents

The Unity of Plato’s Thought: Ethics by Paul Shorey

Plato’s Republic: The Argument with Thrasymachus by H. W. B. Joseph
Glaucon’s Challenge by Christopher A. Kirwan
Plato’s Utilitarianism by Henry Sidgwick and John Grote
The Classification of Goods in Plato’s Republic by Nicholas White

Plato’s Theory of Human Motivation by John M. Cooper
Plato’s Division of the Soul by Michael Woods
Plato and Davidson: Parts of the Soul and Weakness of the Will by Terrence M. Penner

Plato and Common Morality by Julia Annas
Reason and Justice in Plato’s Republic by Richard Kraut
The Psychology of Justice in Plato by John M. Cooper
Some Implications of a Passage in Plato’s Republic by M. B. Foster
The Rulers’ Choice by Nicholas White
Egoism, Love, and Political Office in Plato by Richard Kraut
The Good of Others in Plato’s Republic by Sarah Waterlow

The Theory of Social Justice in the Polis in Plato’s Republic by Gregory Vlastos
Was Plato a Feminist? by Gregory Vlastos

Plato’s Theory of Human Good in the Philebus by John M. Cooper
The Demiurge in Politics: The Timaeus and the Laws by Glenn R. Morrow
The Socratic Paradoxes in Plato’s Laws by Trevor J. Saunders
Plato on the Causes of Wrongdoing in the Laws by Jean Roberts

Terence Irwin is a scholar and philosopher specializing in ancient Greek philosophy and the history of ethics (i.e. the history of Western moral philosophy in ancient, medieval, and modern times).

Since 2007, he has been the Professor of Ancient Philosophy at the University of Oxford, and Fellow of Keble College, Oxford. From 1975 until 2007, he was at Cornell University, where he has been Susan Linn Sage Professor of Philosophy and Humane Letters (from 1995), Professor of Classics (from 1992), and Professor of Philosophy (from 1982). Previously, he was Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University (1972-1975). He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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