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Despite the extensiveness of top-down control in his ideal city, Plato takes seriously the idea that the market does not require total regulation via legislation and that participants in the market may be capable of self-regulation. This paper examines the discussion of market regulation in the Republic and argues that the philosopher rulers play a very limited role in regulating market activities. Indeed, they are concerned only with averting excesses of wealth and poverty. The rules and regulations that are foundational to the daily functioning of the market – enforcement of contracts, resolution of disputes, etc. – are endogenous to the market participants themselves. In allowing for this self-regulation, Plato expresses tempered optimism about the market and a profound confidence in his ideal city’s educational program.


This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek and Roman Political Thought, volume 39, issue 3, in 2022 following peer review. This article may not exactly replicate the final published version. The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online at

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