The nation is at war, and your number in the recently reinstated military draft has just come up. The problem is that, after serious reflection, you have concluded that the war is unjust. What advice might Socrates give you? Would you agree? What might you decide to do?
One fundamental question answered in the Republic is Socrates’ concept of Justice. As all the answers, the conclusion about what it is was reached using the dialectical method, a process that is also called, “intellectual midwifery.” Socrates begins another discussion and a conclusion is reached that “it is just to do good to our friends when they are good and harm to our enemies when they are evil,” but he does not accept this as the final meaning if justice, and said that “doing harm is far worse than receiving harm, because committing injustice harms one’s self internally” (Davis, 2000).
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In conclusion, harming any person is an injustice, and so any just man would not commit it. Davis noted that it was the first that it had been declared in European philosophy the idea that “a man should not harm others, even his enemies” (2000). This is in fact very deontological, as the goodness of an act is considered in itself. In the first book of The Republic, Socrates receives the argument that men find it easier to fall into the pleasures of the unjust rather than choose the inevitable loss and suffering endured as a result of being good and just. But because the just life is more important than the external pleasures that vice and injustice can yield, loss and suffering is a little price to pay. Better is the poor man with a good, just soul than the rich man who has found his wealth through vice and thus attained a tainted soul (Davis, 2000).
In addition, his view of justice was exemplified by the famous story, “The Ring of Gyges.” The point of the story is this: when one has the chance to do something bad, and gain something for one’s self, one should not. That is justice. Thus, in this first question, I think that Socrates would have regretted it, because it is not the right thing. We should take note that Socrates is a good warrior himself of Athens, while being its greatest philosopher at the same time. While the end could be good, the point is it was attained in the wrong manner. In his line of thought, Socrates would have advised that there should be some form of “repayment” to the commitment of injustice. And yes, I would agree. The essence of justice, as was expounded by Davis is not gaining something good for one’s self by making other people suffer.
Would it have been unjust for Socrates to escape? If you think it would have been, explain your position on whether it is ever morally appropriate to disobey the law. If you think Socrates could have escaped without committing an injustice, explain why. Is there some argument Crito could have made but didn’t?
Habin noted three arguments of Crito as he was convincing Socrates to escape. First, Socrates’ friends’ reputations would have suffered; because it would only mean that his friends do not have the courage to help him escape. Their reputations would suffer. Second, Socrates would not be able to provide for his children in prison. And third, if he does not flee, it would become impossible for Socrates to teach philosophy, which means success for his enemies (2003). Socrates responded, however, that, “A good man cannot be harmed eitherin life or in death”, and in addition, and in relation to his concept of justice, one not ought to harm one’s friends. It must be cleared that harming a person, for Socrates meant means him less good, less. Lastly, in response to Crito’s argument related about his children, the philosopher’s reply was, if escaping is unjust and he does it, then he would show himself unfit as “teacher of virtue-he would have shown that he did not know what virtue is-and so he could not make his children just or virtuous (2003).
Following the line of thought that Socrates’ notion of justice is justice in itself, the one characterized by Gyges, wherein one should commit something beneficial for one’s self without hurting people, it would be injustice if ever he tried to escape. In the first place, Socrates was condemned to drink hemlock because he was accused of youth corruption and in believing other Gods. Thus, while this he is receiver of injustice himself, it would have been greater injustice to try to escape, because he would simply commit greater injustice. One argument Crito could have made is that the Athenian laws are base or morally incorrect, and so he could have convinced Socrates to escape because it would not be injustice as it is a rebellion against the laws themselves. This is different from disobeying the laws as they are laws, and disobeying the laws because they are in itself wrong.
Are your moral judgments merely expressions of your personal preferences? If not, how are they different? In articulating your position, be sure to explain how it compares to Reagan’s.
Moral judgment is not only expressions of personal preferences. In the line of thought of the philosopher Levinas, this question itself is invalid, because there can be no “personal” when it comes to morality in the sense that morality is only possible between two people. Morality is not a question of acts (acts could be personal). Moral preferences could not, as they are always based on a person to person relation. To be moral means to acknowledge other’s preferences as well. To be moral is an acknowledgment that people are people and deserve to have a life. Thus, to cancel this right is a transgression.
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I thus agree with Reagan’s position that there must not be “individual preferences” when it comes to moral judgments. In one newspaper article I have read about Reagan, he was said to be mistaken in judgment simply because he deems that a baby born without brain should not be starved to death. This is in fact very humane, because while the child would have not survived even a week, Reagan’s decision is just an acknowledgment of the right of the infant.
Is it possible to be moral without believing in God? Why or why not?
It is possible to be moral without believing in God, if this idea of God is based on tradition (i.e. Jesus, Allah, Jehovah.) For although religion is a great foundation when it comes to morality, it does not mean that religion is the sole foundation of it. For instance, there are a claim in the Philosophy of Science that science is not only taking-over explanations on metaphysics (I mean, reality,) and knowledge, but science is also taking over epistemology, and now even aesthetics and ethics. For example, there is what is called “bio-ethics.”
Question about the possibility of being moral without God is actually outdated, for Nietzsche had long ago pronounced the “death of God.”-the death of objectivity, as new demi-gods arises: perhaps the result is this age of post-modernism. Aside from Nietzsche, there are other ethical philosophers who have founded a system of morals without relying on the idea of a god: there is utilitarianism, pragmatism, hedonism, rational egoism, and a lot more.
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