Plato and Aristotle justified their political theories by defining justice as to allocate to each his or hers own in accordance with that person s nature. It is just, then, Plato argues, to set a person who is by nature fitted to be a cobbler to cobble, a guardian to guard and so on. One s nature determines one s place in a just society. Interestingly, Aristotle argues that the virtues are different for men and women while Plato argues that the virtues of men and women are the same. By insisting that courage, as virtue, for a man is commanding while it is obeying for a woman, Aristotle justifies his claim that men ought to rule while women ought to be ruled. If we project Aristotle s argument on Plato, we get the interesting result that sex does not serve as a measure of who gets to rule whom since the virtues of men and women are the same. In the essay The Legal Status and Political Role of Women in Plato s Laws. David Cohen indicates that scholars have Shrugged off Plato s legislation in regard to women because it simply didn t seem particularly important what Plato thought about women and politics one way or the other. If Cohen s assessment is correct, scholars neglect of Plato s women is simultaneously a neglect of part of Plato s political justice. Plato s notion of justice in reference to the male nature is but half the story. The story will not be complete until the female nature is, as thoroughly as the male nature, connected with Plato s notion of justice.
The Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy states that feminism is grounded on the belief that women are oppressed or disadvantaged by comparison with men, and that their oppression is in some way illegitimate or unjustified. In this essay we will use the general characterisation of feminism as an approach to examine whether the tasks in the public and the private sphere allocated to women by Plato are warranted by his notion of justice. That is, does Plato oppress women by assigning them tasks and functions, which, in reference to his views on female nature, are illegitimate? For a discriminatory treatment of individuals can only be justified by the notion of justice if a relevant difference is found. If thus women are not allocated their own in accordance with their nature, then Plato commits a fallacy, which could have unfortunate effects on the whole notion of justice.
In this essay we shall focus on the Republic, the Timaeus and the Laws while leaving out the passing comments of the other dialogues. We shall treat these three dialogues one at a time in an effort to interpret them by their separate arguments. We will follow the arguments in detail and use every mean at our disposal to unveil the argument s implications relevant to our study of Plato s political justice in reference to women.