I was puzzled by the claim of Pradeau and Brisson that Plato's Laws, not the Republic, is the first work of political philosophy 'in the strict sense'.
Schofield points out (p. 7) that something similar has "recently been claimed" by André Laks, in his contribution on the Laws to the Cambridge History of Greek and Roman Political Thought. This is news to me, and a good example of why I wanted so much to read Schofield's book.
Laks' view is that the Laws "can be considered the first work of genuine political philosophy in the Western tradition" because (I give now Schofield's summary):
...it builds an elaborate legal and theologico-political superstructure on the foundations it discusses.According to Laks, "the Republic is at best a sketch, whereas the Laws breaks ground for future political thought".
Admittedly the Laws executes something in the way the Republic does not, but still I think Laks' view should be rejected:
(i) If the Republic is not political philosophy because it is a sketch, then neither is Rousseau's Social Contract, Locke's Second Treatise, or Rawls' Theory of Justice--which is absurd. (Neither of these other works builds on foundations to any greater extent than the Republic does. They leave that sort of building to others.)Schofield has some counterarguments of his own, which I'll give in the next post.
(ii) It's difficult to claim that future political thought is responsive to the Laws more than to the Republic. But if so, how is it that the former alone 'breaks ground for future political thought'?
But where do you stand on this question?