The Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy Newsletter

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Despite the frequent pairing of and contrast between persuasion and force, Plato’s Republic undermines any coherent split between these two modes of handling others. This paper provides two major pieces of evidence to support this claim: (i) Book I dramatizes the weakness of the distinction; and (ii) the arguments that the best rulers will rule only under coercion (in Books I, V, VII, and IX) makes the distinction into an obvious conundrum. Further evidence omitted here is Plato’s tendency to subvert this same rhetorically popular binary elsewhere, especially Statesman, Sophist and Laws. Given that Plato doesn’t explicitly question the persuasion-force dichotomy, claims about why he implicitly questions it must be speculative; this paper concludes with nine ideas.


Christopher Moore presented “Persuasion and Coercion in Plato’s Republic” to the Society at its meeting with the American Philological Association in 2008.

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