1st Edition

Plato’s Pragmatism Rethinking the Relationship between Ethics and Epistemology

By Nicholas R. Baima, Tyler Paytas Copyright 2021
    248 Pages
    by Routledge

    248 Pages
    by Routledge

    Plato’s Pragmatism offers the first comprehensive defense of a pragmatist reading of Plato. According to Plato, the ultimate rational goal is not to accumulate knowledge and avoid falsehood but rather to live an excellent human life.

    The book contends that a pragmatic outlook is present throughout the Platonic corpus. The authors argue that the successful pursuit of a good life requires cultivating certain ethical commitments, and that maintaining these commitments often requires violating epistemic norms. In the course of defending the pragmatist interpretation, the authors present a forceful Platonic argument for the conclusion that the value of truth has its limits, and that what matters most are one’s ethical commitments and the courage to live up to them. Their interpretation has far-reaching consequences in that it reshapes how we understand the relationship between Plato’s ethics and epistemology.

    Plato’s Pragmatism will appeal to scholars and advanced students of Plato and ancient philosophy. It will also be of interest to those working on current controversies in ethics and epistemology

    Prelude 1

    PART I

    Virtue, Veracity, and Noble Lies 13

    1 Beneficial Falsehoods in the Republic: The Priority of the Practical 15

    2 Ethical Commitments and Persuasion in the Laws 40

    3 The Ring of Gyges and the Nature of Ethical Commitments 67


    Courage, Caution, and Faith 89

    4 Charming Away the Fear of Death in the Phaedo 91

    5 Better, Braver, and Less Idle: Faith and Inquiry in the Meno 110

    6 Absurdity and Speciousness in the Protagoras and the Euthydemus 132


    Commoners, Rulers, and Gods 155

    7 Philosophers, Soul Parts, and False Beliefs in the Republic 157

    8 Truthful Gods and the Limits of Divine Assimilation 177

    Coda 197


    Nicholas R. Baima is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, Florida Atlantic University, USA. He specializes in ancient philosophy and ethical theory. His work in ancient philosophy has appeared in journals such as Apeiron, Ancient Philosophy, Ancient Philosophy Today, Phronesis, and the Journal of the History of Philosophy. He has also published on moral philosophy in journals such as Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, the Journal of Value Inquiry, and Neuroethics.

    Tyler Paytas is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Australian Catholic University. He was previously a VolkswagenStiftung Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Stuttgart and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Dianoia Institute of Philosophy at ACU. He specializes in moral philosophy and the history of ethics, with articles in journals such as Kantian Review, Phronesis, Utilitas, Faith and Philosophy, and the Journal of the History of Philosophy. He is the co-editor, with Tim Henning, of Kantian and Sidgwickian Ethics: The Cosmos of Duty Above and the Moral Law Within (Routledge, 2020).