The unity of virtue and the limitations of magnesia: An essay in memory of Arthur Adkins

Michael S. Kochin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

In the Republic Plato describes the best city; in the Laws, he describes what he calls the 'second-best city'. I argue that Magnesia, the city of the Laws, is second-best because she fails to promulgate a single concept of human virtue that transcends the allegedly separate virtues of men and women. Magnesia institutionalizes philosophy in the Nocturnal Council to mitigate the consequent ethical flaws, but excludes women from the Council and thus from philosophic inquiry. I show that this exclusion of women is itself a consequence of Magnesia's moral failings. In imperfect cities, of which Magnesia is supposedly the best, reform of women's status is thus only possible within limits, and those limits on the improvement of women's status are limits on the goodness of political life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-141
Number of pages17
JournalHistory of Political Thought
Volume19
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1998

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