Julia Annas presents a study of Plato's account of the relation of virtue to law: how it developed from the Republic to the Laws, and how his ideas were taken up by Cicero and by Philo of Alexandria. Annas shows that, rather than rejecting the approach to an ideal society in the Republic (as generally thought), Plato is in both dialogues concerned with the relation of virtue to law, and obedience to law, and presents, in the Laws, a more careful and sophisticated
account of that relation. His approach in the Laws differs from his earlier one, because he now tries to build from the political cultures of actual societies (and their histories) instead of producing a theoretical thought-experiment. Plato develops an original project in which obedience to law is
linked with education to promote understanding of the laws and of the virtues which obedience to them promote. Annas also explores how this project appeals independently to the very different later writers Cicero and Philo of Alexandria.
Julia Annas has taught at the University of Arizona since 1986. Before that she taught at the University of Oxford (St Hugh's College) and she has also taught at Columbia University. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and an Honorary Fellow of St Hugh's College, Oxford. She has been a Senior Fellow of the Center for Hellenic Studies, Washington DC and President of the Pacific Division of the American Philosophical Association 2004-5, and has an honorary doctorate from the University of Uppsala. Annas has written a number of books and articles over a wide range of ancient philosophy, from Plato to the Hellenistic period, including An Introduction to Plato's Republic (1981), The Morality of Happiness (1993), and Platonic Ethics Old and New (1999). She is now working on virtue and law in ancient thought.