Virtue and law in plato and beyond

Julia Annas

Research output: Book/ReportBook

35 Scopus citations


The Laws is Plato's second attempt to outline an ideal society. It does not, as often thought, introduce the rule of law as a rejection of the rule of virtue in the Republic. In the Laws the place of law in the development of virtue is rethought, and Plato tempers the importance of obedience to law with the need for citizens to understand their laws as structuring a virtuous way of life in which they actively participate. Plato now develops a fresh methodology for political thought, one which learns from the past, and recognizes the value in a good society of citizen participation, and of a number of modified Athenian political institutions, in which all citizens play a part, rather than most submitting to the expertise of a few. Less approachable than the Republic, the Laws is richer in political and ethical ideas and sets the project of an ideal society in a wider and richer context. One idea, namely that citizens should comprehend their laws as shaping a good way of life, is taken up and developed independently by Cicero and by Philo of Alexandria, who in different ways draw out some implications of the Laws.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages234
ISBN (Electronic)9780198755746
ISBN (Print)9780198790853
StatePublished - Nov 23 2017


  • Ideal theory
  • Law
  • Natural Law
  • Plato
  • Virtue

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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