What is justice? The answer seems simple enough until you actually try to answer it with specifics. This is just one question asked in Plato’s Republic, and one that has been extensively analyzed and debated, making it perfect to teach Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS).

Plato’s Republic

Plato’s Republic is considered one of the most influential texts and has played a significant role in shaping Western culture. For this reason, it is taught in many English/ Language Arts and Philosophy classes at both the high school and university level. 

The Republic, also called a Platonic Dialogue, asks tough and seemingly unanswerable questions. Some of the questions asked in dialogues are, What is knowledge? What is friendship? What is love? and the Republic asks: What is justice?

What is justice? 

When writing about the Republic, Allan Bloom states that “No other philosophic book so powerfully expresses the human longing for justice while satisfying the intellect’s demands for clarity.”

The questions addressed in the Republic may seem overly vague with each person’s answer personally constructed, making it virtually impossible to have one right answer. However, Socrates argues that there is such a thing as an objective answer to these questions. This HOTS resource aims to help students understand a small portion of the Republic and wrestle with these ideas and the question of justice. 

This particular product not only focuses on The Republic’s main theme of justice but also on social interaction, tyranny, and ethics. Because justice is a topic often raised on AP History and AP English exams, this will be a really helpful unit for students. Not only that, but social justice is even more relevant today. 

Looking to pair the Republic HOTS with a mentor text? Perfect pairings include The Great Gatsby, The Crucible, 1984, The Giver, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Hunger Games, Frankenstein, Monster, The Hate U Give, The Scarlet Letter, any Cormac McCarthy books and any Shakespearean tragedies. The possibilities and connections are endless! 

About HOTS

Included in this product: 

  • EIGHT pages of teacher notes
  • An introduction to Platonic dialogues and the Republic in particular
  • Information on how I use the text
  • Assignment suggestions
  • 18 discussion questions
  • Vocabulary
  • FIVE essay questions
  • An 18 question multiple-choice test (based upon the included reading
  • 11 pages of the dialogue itself (beginning of BOOK I), public domain
  • 7 pages of endnotes from the dialogue 
  • CCSS related information on text complexity
  • Suggestions for scaffolding the readings and activities

Looking for more? 

If you are interested in this activity on Book I of the Republic you may be interested in my other HOTS units:

Higher Order Thinking Skills HOTS #3 (THE THEAETETUS) WHAT IS KNOWLEDGE?

Higher Order Thinking Skills/High School HOTS #1 Nietzsche (Non-fiction)

Critical Thinking: What is Textual Analysis #2: THE REPUBLIC (Philosophy)


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