Chapter

The Rule of Reason in Plato’s <i>Laws</i>

Fred D. Miller, Jr.

in Reason, Religion, and Natural Law

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199767175
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979592 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199767175.003.0001
The Rule of Reason in Plato’s Laws

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When Plato states in the Laws that “law … is by nature (or not inferior to nature) if it is the offspring of intelligence,” he implies that natural law is a corollary of a deeper principle: the rule of reason. This chapter examines how this fundamental principle undergirds the argument of Plato's Laws by considering five main questions: First, if a city should be ruled by reason, how should reason perform this function? Second, what entitles the rational element to rule over the non-rational? Third, is rational rule properly dispersed throughout the entire citizenry, or is it confined to an elite group as in the Republic? Fourth, should those in authority abide by the rule of law? Finally, do all the citizens have a moral obligation to obey the laws, and, if so, is this obligation qualified in any way?

Keywords: Plato; law; natural law; reason; rule of law; obligation to obey the law

Chapter.  13402 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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