Virtue ethics, politics, and the function of laws: The parent analogy in Plato's Menexenus
Dialogue-Canadian Philosophical Review
211 - 230
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Can virtue ethics say anything worthwhile about laws? What would a virtue-ethical account of good laws look like? I argue that a plausible answer to that question can be found in Plato's parent analogies in the Crito and the Menexenus. I go on to show that the Menexenus gives us a philosophical argument to the effect that laws are just only if they enable citizens to flourish. I then argue that the resulting virtue-ethical account of just laws is not viciously paternalistic. Finally, I refute the objection that the virtue-ethical account I am proposing is not distinct from a consequentialist account.