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Political Theory: An Encyclopedia of Contemporary and Classic Terms
Page6(23 of 377)
Writings on Politics and Philosophy, ed. Lewis S. Feuer. 1959 repr. New York: Anchor Books, 1989. advantage of the stronger In the first book of Plato’s Republic, Thrasyma- chus defines justice as ‘‘the advantage of the stronger,’’ in rebuttal to Socrates’s assertion that justice is a human virtue and that a just person when confronted with injustice does not respond in kind. That is, a person not only engages in just behavior (such as paying one’s debts and telling the truth, as Cephalus had earlier stated), but even more importantly, a person is just, and thus will always act justly even when wronged, regardless of the case. In stating this, Socrates implies that justice is ulti- mately an objective principle, rooted in our being rather than provided for us by social or political convention. It is at this point, very early in the dialogue, that Thrasymachus stren- uously objects, arguing with an intimidating confidence that justice has nothing to do with virtue, but rather is and should be a function of power (the advantage of the stronger). Hence, justice is situational and variable, and so it follows that one can even speak of ‘‘tyran- nical laws’’ and hence tyrannical justice, as Thrasymachus does at Republic I, 338e. This notwithstanding, Thrasymachus does state that justice ‘‘is the same in all cities, the advantage of the established rule,’’ thus even Thrasyma- chus’s attempt at what we might call a relativist account relies on a general rule, that is, that justice is always a function of power. Related Entries Plato Republic, The (Politeia) Suggested Reading Plato. Republic, in Complete Works, ed. John M. Cooper. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1997. advice to princes In Niccolo ` Machiavelli’s The Prince, several points of advice are offered as reliable strategies for successful princes. While The Prince is much more than a ‘‘handbook for princes,’’ the advice provided is nonetheless of interest to students of Machiavelli as well as to any reader interested in a close study of political skill. The substantive teaching in The Prince is con- veyed through such principles as learning ‘‘how not to be good,’’ the emphasis on appearance and reputation, the recognition of the need for both strength and cunning, and the willingness to use well-placed cruelty for the greater good. Nonetheless, a survey of the specific examples is informative, filling in to some extent the details of Machiavelli’s murky intentions. These specific suggestions include the following: (1) In seizing new territory, the conquering prince must quickly win the sup- port of the current inhabitants, but must be wary of potential enemies within. A prince who seizes territory where the inhabitants speak the same language and hold similar cus- toms will find it easier to curry the favor of the populace, but if the case is otherwise, more stringent policies are in order. Machiavelli con- tinues by suggesting that a new ruler reside in recently conquered territory, the better able to monitor the events, control lieutenants and ostensible allies, and familiarize himself with the population. (2) Additionally, a conquering prince is well-served by sending colonists from among his own people into the new territory, otherwise a ‘‘substantial army’’ will be neces- sary to ‘‘garrison your new territory.’’ (3) A prince who governs a newly acquired territory where customs and language are heterogeneous to his own must be careful to strike an alliance with weaker neighbors for the sake of dominat- ing them, and to devise ways to weaken more powerful neighbors, and in so doing, set him- self up as the most important influence in the region. (4) A prince should not prefer disorder to war. (5) A prince must never allow another country to become more powerful than his own. (6) In governing, a prince must rely solely on his own servants for assistance or employ the aid of traditional barons. (7) For those who have earned their realms owing to their own skill (virtu), they should emulate the magnifi- cent ancient founders, namely, Moses, Cyrus, 6 ADVANTAGE OF THE STRONGER