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Epicureans and the City’s Laws

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The article discusses the accusation advanced by Plutarch and Cicero, according to which the Epicureans are unjust, as they would break the law to pursue pleasure if certain of impunity, and deals with this criticism by analyzing the Epicurean theory of law and justice and comparing it with friendship. The article argues that, from a doctrinal standpoint, philia has a higher place in the Epicurean’s priorities and a stronger efficacy than positive law in serving the naturally just. It thus concludes that, as Plutarch and Cicero suspected, the Epicurean’s ultimate loyalty does not lie with positive law, in spite of its importance for social order, but rather with the naturally just (dikaion), better secured by friendship.

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Published Online: 2022-06-09
Published in Print: 2022-06-30

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