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WHAT IS JUSTICE?

At this point, Thrasymachus enters the conversation and we witness the


Context of Justice poverty of Socrates.
The dialogues of Socrates begins in a discussion of the concept of what Thrasymachus entrance leads to a discussion of ends that are intended
is just inside Polemarchus house. by justice. For example, a government or a ruler is ought to dispense
Socrates was invited to join a group in a party, celebrating a deitys justice to serve the interest of politics, namely, the interest of the strong
festival (Bendis), and begins a light conversation about old age with or the rulers.
Polymarchus and Cephalus. On this note however, Thrasymachus also argues that in some cases the
Cephalus, the father of Polymarchus, begins to talk about old age and ruler makes mistakes, and errs because he is not fit to rule.
how it affects their sense of pleasure, the serenity of age, and the At this point Socrates argues that the mistake is only committed when
freedom experienced as age calms the passions down. the ruler does not act as a ruler; in as much as a physician errs too in his
Socrates then steers the conversation towards the idea of interest, and diagnoses because he forgets what his title implies.
how these interests are able to secure Cephalus life into comfort. In other words, a ruler that is not acting on the idea of being a ruler, is
Is justice a matter of giving one what is due? If you owe money, paying an incompetent ruler.
what you is considered as justice. The suitability of the task itself is dependent on the role that is being
If Justice is a matter of giving what is right to someone, then what about played out by its actor. When the actor forgets his role or is distracted
giving back a weapon to a friend who has clearly lost his mind? But then, by unnecessary, that is where injustice begins to rear its ugly head.
giving the weapon back to its owner might cause further injustice? Thus, justice is served, when people are put in their right place and
At this point, Cephalus excuses himself to continue ministering his nothing else but their right roles. A soldier whose task is to protect and
sacrifices to the deity and leaves Socrates with Polemarchus. expand the territory of the state has no business in instructing the
At this point, they consider the idea of justice in the context of restoring people in the fine arts nor do they have the business of establishing the
what is proper to what is ought to be. law.
They also turn towards the discussion of what is ought to be given to Another question is raised in the course of the heated discussion with
friends and what is ought to be delivered to their enemies: good and an upset and sarcastic Thrasymachus, what does one gain in the pursuit
evil. of justice?
This means to say that good is seen when a man is sick and a physician is To this Socrates replies that justice in itself is a virtue. If you are paid to
able to heal that man, or steer a vessel in the sea, or perhaps even bring dispense justice, then you are corrupting justice.
harm to enemies in times of war. This discussion turns to the idea of intentionality and purposes in the
At this point the discussion moves on to the idea of usefulness, is justice state. Just like the organs of the body, the state is ought to function by
a matter of usefulness or uselessness? complimenting one another into an organic unity.
In the cases presented earlier, it seems that justice is problematic For example, the tongue is the organ responsible for taste, if we use our
because it begged the question of restoring something that was broken eyes to taste food, it will not function the way that it is intended to be.
into its right order. If a man had to repay his debt to bring justice to his (Think of other silly uses for your sensory organs)
debtor, would it not be much more simpler to not have had the need to Likewise, a citizen that is assigned to a task that is beyond his capacity
borrow in the first place? or capability, will not function properly in the republic. Hence, the idea
If war causes injuries and a healer or physician had to mend to injuries, of injustice revolves around the idea that every citizen should function
would it not be much more just if there were no war to begin with? in their appropriate places.
This brings into the discussion the issue of motivation. Is the ruler Citizens are trained according to the virtues that they possess.
motivated to rule because of money, honor, and power? Rulers are considered as the head of the Republic, they are
The matter of compensation is considered irrelevant in the Ideal charged with the task of creating laws and governing the citizens.
Republic that they are trying to construct. Since citizens compliment The Guardians or the Soldiers are the heart of the state, they
each others role in society, the element of earning or profiting from defend and expand the territory of the state.
their role is dismissed. The workers and traders are in charge of providing for the needs of the
To answer the issue of ruling, Socrates provides the consequences of citizens. They are considered as the stomach of the state.
dismissing the roles assigned to them, specifically that of ruling. The Ideal Republic thrives on fixed social roles and the lack of social
A ruler is not motivated by the amount of wealth, honor, or power mobility.
bestowed upon the position, but rather, rules voluntarily because of the Once a citizen is assigned to a task or a role, the citizen serves that
fear that someone else that is worse than him takes the place. role for the rest of his or her life.
In this sense, justice is considered as a virtue and the unjust is a vice. Interestingly enough, women are considered as equals in the
The unjust is a state wherein something or someone inappropriate is Republic.
placed within society. In other words, it is the equivalent of placing into For the purpose of equality and fairness, the practice of having
power a man that is incapable of ruling. individual family units is abolished. This is to eliminate nepotism in
Justice for Socrates then relies on the idea of order. the Republic. The republic is in itself a single family unit.
In a society where everyone is put in the right place, order prevails, and
justice is served.
Thus, in the Ideal Republic, the concept of justice is established when
citizens perfect themselves in their assigned roles and function.
On the contrary, injustice is seen when something is out of order in
terms of their ends and purposes. For example, an actor assigned as a
ruler, is a form of injustice because they have not been trained to rule.
Justice according to Socrates relies on the simplicity of social roles,
meaning that by focusing the energy of its citizens to a goal or an end
that they were made for, they are able to contribute to the harmony of
the state and are free from vices.
The Ideal Republic
Composition:
The Ideal Republic consists of Citizens and Slaves.
Citizens are trained at an early age to serve three roles in the state: the
ruler, the soldier, and the trader.
Slaves are given the task of providing labour, specifically, producing raw
materials and servicing the citizens.
The three types of citizens are selected at a very early age. Children are
then segregated to their training facilities where they are taught for the
rest of their life how to perform their duties.
Reproduction is regulated by the Republic. Men and women are allowed * Conducted his research mostly with schools and communities by
to have intercourse during festivals. In the event of pregnancy, the providing them with moral dilemmas and classifying the responses with
woman is taken care of the state and the child is taken from the mother the level of moral development from each respondent.
as soon as it is born. * Kohlbergs goal is to study how communities create a socialised form
The biological parents and children will not know their biological of developing moral reasoning.
relations. * Kohlberg asserts that the development of moral reasoning is
Deformed children (as with the practice in Ancient Greece) are cast out dependent on the social complexity of a persons environment.
to die in the wilderness. * Kohlberg is one of the most cited psychologists in research and
Social mobility is prohibited, the reason behind this is that the role is textbooks.
ought to be perfected and served in the entirety of ones lifetime. * In one his field research, Kohlberg became infected with an abdominal
The life of the Republic is highly controlled, excesses are often parasite, causing him extreme and consistent pain. In 1987, he
discouraged. The arts are only allowed if it serves a utilitarian purpose committed suicide by drowning himself on a harbour during winter.
of motivating the citizens to focus on their assigned roles. Stages of Moral Development
Problematique Kohlbergs Theory of Moral Development works under the premise that
The Ideal Republic thrives on social order, hence there is a very strong all moral decisions are guided by a form of reasoning .
emphasis on control and regulation. These stages are guided by the persons interest, foresight into
The division of labour might serve the purpose of the state, however, it consequences, and sense of ethics.
might run into conflict with individual freedom and desires. A child, for example, may act on the basis of obtaining reward (i.e.
In line with the context of social order, the sacrifices that must be made Chickenjoy for good grades) or by punishment (i.e. poor grades equates
may appear undesirable due to the highly regulated nature of the to a Playstation ban).
government. The Stages of Moral Development are divided into three Levels:
Despite this, some of the points of the Ideal Republic are useful in the Level 1: Pre-Conventional Morality The person acts only on the
assessment of current societies. Social order has a price, and that is individual gain and loss due to moral choices.
usually payed in terms of freedom. Level 2: Conventional Morality The Person acts on the basis of social
Also, considering the circumstances of the Republic, without slavery, the relations and possible effects of their actions to the people around
entire social organization of the citizens is impossible. Someone, will them.
have to tend to manual labor in order for the republic to work. Level 3: Post-Conventional Morality The Person acts on moral
Kohlberg and Moral Development principles that are self-determined and are rationally conceivable by
Lawrence Kohlberg others.
Lawrence Kohlberg (1927 1987) was an American psychologist focused These levels are also divided into six stages
on the research concerning moral reasoning. Level 1
Kohlberg was a professor of psychology in both the University of Stage 1 Obedience
Chicago and Harvard University. Stage 2 Reward / Self-Interest
Kohlberg followed the stages of human development through Jean Level 2
Piagets research and added the component of moral judgment to the Stage 3 Conformity
process. Stage 4 Social Order
Level 3
Stage 5 Social Contract * Individuals at this point learns that it is important to follow certain
Stage 6 Universalist rules and norms because it fulfils certain needs in society.
Obedience * They learn moral obligations are not merely fulfilled because of
The childs primary concern for this stage is: how can I avoid getting punishment and reward.
punished? * Acts are done morally because of the belief that it is necessary and
A certain act is deemed to be good insofar as an authority figure does beneficial for society as a whole.
not punish the child/person. * The person at this stage becomes more cognizant of broader rules
The personal code of morality is guided by an atavistic or primal instinct and their intention of bringing order to society.
involving pain aversion. Social Contract
Moral decisions in this stage are guided by immediate personal and The last two stages of moral development are rarely achieved by most
physical consequences to the person. people. There is as low as 5-10% of the population that could create
While this is the first developmental stage in moral decision making, it is moral reasons at this level.
notable that there are adults that are unable to progress beyond the The motivation for the Social Contract level is the idea of general good
first two stages. and welfare for everyone.
Reward Self-Interest Individuals at this point learn that ideals that do not promote the
The child at this level learns that by sticking with the rules he or she gets greatest good for the greatest number are ought to be changed or
an advantageous status. modified..
The child learns that by obedience it is able to satisfy its own self- The idea of compromise and negotiations become the hallmark of moral
interest. development at this stage. This leads to a democratic acceptance of
The main motivation for an act is: What is in it for me? varying opinions and ideals in society.
Also at this stage, the child realises that the views of authorities varies. Rules at this level may or may not work for the benefit of the greater
This variety will be instrumental in the childs understanding of number. Thus, this stage goes beyond the demand of the law or social
perspective (i.e. Conflicting parental or guardian rewards) conventions.
Conformity Universalism
This level is mostly observed and developed in adolescents and adults. At this level, the individual would opt to answer moral dilemmas
In most cases, this is the most common level of moral development in through rational and self-made choices.
most cultures. An act is considered moral insofar as it is in agreement with universality
This is the stage wherein an individual begins to understand social roles (i.e. act only on the maxim where you can at the same time will that it
and tries to fit in their own respective role. should become a universal law.)
An act is moral depending on societys norms and conventions. This is in line with Kants categorical imperative.
At this stage the person learns how to evaluate the effects of their Moral guidelines at this stage are not merely derived from law or
action towards their relationship with others. normative practices, they are derived from a universal principle that
In this level and also at the next level, the authority figure is internalised applies to everyone.
based on common actions and group values. This also involves the capacity of a person to create his or her own
Social Order moral principles that are independent from conventions, and yet at the
same time applicable to everyone without any exceptions.
The Heinz Dilemma Conformity
To test the level or stages of moral development for Kohlbergs subjects, As a good husband, Heinz should steal the medicine. His wife expects it
he conducted a series of experiments with different respondents. and his family will expect him to acquire the medicine at all cost.
His method was to categorise the responses of the subjects into the six Or
stages based on a certain type of moral dilemma. Heinz should not steal the medicine because that would make him a
The most common dilemma is the story of Heinz and his need to acquire criminal. His wife would feel bad about the theft as well as the other
cancer medicine for his wife. members of his family and community.
A woman was near death. There was one drug that the doctors thought Social Order
might save her. It was a form of radium that the druggist in the same Heinz should not steal the medicine because stealing is illegal.
town has recently discovered. The drug was expensive to make, but the Or
druggist was charging ten times what the drug cost him to produce. He Should Heinz steal the drug for his wife, Heinz should submit himself to the
paid 200 dollars for the radium and charged 2000 dollars for a small punishment for his crime and pay the druggist with what is due.
dose of the drug. The sick womans husband Heinz, went to everyone he Level Three
knew to borrow the money, but could only gather 1000 dollars. He told Social Contract
the druggist that his wife was dying and asked him to sell it cheaper or Heinz should steal the medicine because everyone has the right to life
let him pay the rest of the price at a later date. The druggist declined regardless of the law.
this offer on the basis that he wants to profit from the hard work and Or
research that he put into the development of the drug. Heinz got Heinz should not steal the medicine because the scientist deserves the
desperate and broke into the mans laboratory. Should he steal the right to earn from the product of his labour. Despite the noble reasons
medicine? Why or why not? of saving a life, the act of stealing the medicine is not justified in any
Level One way.
Obedience Universalist
Heinz should not steal the medicine because he should fear the Heinz should steal the medicine, because saving a human life is a more
punishment of being put into prison. fundamental value than the property rights of another person.
Or Or
Heinz is justified in stealing the medicine because it is only worth 200 Heinz should not steal the medicine because there are other that who
dollars. Also since Heinz offered to pay for 1000 dollars and was not also need the medicine badly and are not resorting to theft. Their lives
taking anything else from the druggist, he has the right to steal it. are equally significant.
Reward / Self Interest Other Dilemmas
Heinz must steal the medicine because saving his wife will bring him so Joe is a fourteen-year-old boy who wanted to go to camp very much. His
much happiness, even at the cost of suffering the consequences of a father promised him he could go if he saved up the money for it himself.
crime. So Joe worked hard at his paper route and saved up the forty dollars it
Or cost to go to camp, and a little more besides. But just before camp was
Heinz should not steal the medicine because the consequences are going to start, his father changed his mind. Some of his friends decided
unpleasant. In other words, Heinz would suffer more in prison as to go on a special fishing trip, and Joe's father was short of the money it
opposed to seeing his wife die. would cost. So he told Joe to give him the money he had saved from the
Level Two paper route. Joe didn't want to give up going to camp, so he thinks of
refusing to give his father the money.Should Joe refust to give his father Hobbes wrote the Leviathan in his 60s, before this work, Hobbes was
the money? Why or why not? a polymath and was interested with a lot of diverse topics such as
Judy was a twelve-year-old girl. Her mother promised her that she could optics, physics, philosophy, and politics.
go to a special rock concert coming to their town if she saved up from Hobbes was born on the 5th of April, 1588. He was a contemporary of
baby-sitting and lunch money to buy a ticket to the concert. She prominent thinkers such as Rene Descartes.
managed to save up the fifteen dollars the ticket cost plus another five Hobbes was critical of Scholastic philosophy and in turn favoured the
dollars. But then her mother changed her mind and told Judy that she new scientific methods and trends that came out in his time.
had to spend the money on new clothes for school. Judy was Hobbes was a closet atheist.
disappointed and decided to go to the concert anyway. She bought a Hobbes served as a tutor for King Charles II.
ticket and told her mother that she had only been able to save five In Hobbes time, the English Civil War rose out of a political conflict
dollars. That Saturday she went to the performance and told her mother between Parliamentarians and Royalists. This conflict marked the
that she was spending the day with a friend. A week passed without her tension between the right of the people to rule and the right of the king
mother finding out. Judy then told her older sister, Louise, that she had to rule. This was Hobbes inspiration for his book The Leviathan.
gone to the performance and had lied to her mother about it. Louise Historical Context
wonders whether to tell their mother what Judy did. Should Louise, the The leadership of a state often falls under the responsibility of a
older sister, tell their mother that Judy lied about the money or should monarch who was put into power because of his or her right to rule.
she keep quiet? Why? This right to rule was both taken through birth right and the
Two young men, brothers, had got into serious trouble. They were affirmation of a religious institution in conferring sovereignty to the
secretly leaving town in a hurry and needed money. Karl, the older one, monarch through gods will.
broke into a store and stole a thousand dollars. Bob, the younger one, Often times, this has been a source of conflict for rulers, the aristocracy,
went to a retired old man who was known to help people in town. He and the religious institution that vests the title of the monarch.
told the man that he was very sick and that he needed a thousand During the English civil war, this has been the contention of the royalists
dollars to pay for an operation. Bob asked the old man to lend him the and the parliamentarians.
money and promised that he would pay him back when he recovered. The parliamentarians opted that the aristocracy has the right to
Really Bob wasn't sick at all, and he had no intention of paying the man influence governance. The royalist argued on the side of the monarchs
back. Although the old man didn't know Bob very well, he lent him the divine right.
money. So Bob and Karl skipped town, each with a thousand dollars. The execution of Charles I was the result of the power struggle between
Which is worse, stealing like Karl or cheating like Bob? Why is your the parliament and the monarch.
choice worse compared to the other? Charles I, to the ire of the parliament raised taxes and persecuted tax
Hobbes Leviathan evaders.
Thomas Hobbes The parliament, saw the act as unjust, and decided to overthrow the
Hobbes is a 17th Century English Philosopher known for his moral and monarch and had him publicly executed by beheading.
social philosophy. Moreover, Charles I also had plenty of religious policies that angered the
Hobbes established the idea of a social contract before Jean-Jacques parliaments of England, specifically when he married a Catholic French
Rousseau. princess.
Hobbes premise in the Leviathan is a critique of ascendancy and
political power in the practice of governing states in his time.
Hobbes was very critical of the parliamentary procedure and at the Nasty
same time the religious intervention of churches in granting the right of Brutish
monarchs to rule. Short
The point of Hobbes criticism was to create an argument that would SPooN BruSH
justify the rule of leader figure that is neither taken from the divine right These characteristics of human nature leads to excesses in behaviour.
principle nor from the populist movement found in democracy. Contrary to the idea of mere brutishness, humans also practice the
Hobbes work had a certain similarity with an earlier political theorist excesses of behaviour in the form of altruism.
Niccolo Machiavelli. We often desire things in excess, we want more and sometimes we give
Hobbes sought to justify the rule of a leader to maintain social order. too much.
In contrast with Hobbes, Machiavellis work (which is somewhat This behaviour creates an imbalance of expectations with social
satirical), serves as guide for a leader to maintain power amidst social, interactions.
political, and economic intrigue. State of War
What makes Hobbes unique is his justification of the idea of social The premise of human nature implies that there is a common state of
contract that is divorced from both religion and popular politics. war within society.
Machiavelli on the other hand was guided by the principle that the end We inherently distrust each other and yet expect kindness and
justifies the means, insofar as the result or decisions of the ruler are sympathy at the same time.
only evaluated with the output of his actions. If given a free reign over the issues of the state and society, humans are
For example, Machiavelli justified that if one has to eliminate political most likely to deplete their resources either by taking from another or
rivals, one has to do it in one quick and sweeping action. by giving it to an excess.
Moreover, using techniques of flattery and appearances of benevolence Social institutions, therefore, must work to even out these tendencies.
when needed and violence when necessary placed Machiavellis work as With the events that led to the English Revolution in Hobbes time, he
a manual for statesmanship as opposed to a justification of a social saw that the monarch in his entitlement from the divine right can cause
contract. as much imbalance as the parliament.
The Leviathan works under the premise that there must be a leader or The parliament, on the other hand, despite its political assent from the
an institution that is capable of instilling order in the state. people also suffers an issue of imbalance inasmuch as they are
Contrary to the idea of the Leviathan as a single entity; Hobbes looked susceptible to taking personal interests over the interest of the state.
at the leadership as an institution. Either in the form of a monarch or a Political affiliations and aspirations can overcome the need to keep the
parliament. state in order.
The state under the rule of the Leviathan considers the ascendancy of Despite this, Hobbes finds the necessity of power in maintaining social
the Leviathan, not in the form of a popular vote or divine right. The order within the state.
Leviathan rules as a recognition of the need for social order. If the leader is weak, the leader would be overcome by the influence of
With this in mind, the Leviathan gains his power from the people, and is the people and other institutions (i.e. religion).
at the same time protected by the people. Thus, the Leviathan, must be strong enough to overcome all the factors
Hobbes on Human Nature that can influence state. (i.e. media, people, landowners, economics,
For Hobbes, human life is defined with the following characteristics: etc.)
Solitary In the end, Hobbes insists that the Leviathan must be able to hold these
Poor sources of power in check.
To do this, the Leviathan must work out a principle or a way to unite The Many are seen but not known, and the ideas are known but not
these forces to a goal or objective that would benefit society as a whole. seen. S
With this, Hobbes is able to argue the necessity of a social contract. Analogy between sight and knowledge.
The Social Contract Neither Sight, nor the eye in which sight resides is the sun.
The Social Contract is a principle that people follow and recognise when Sight requires not simply the object of its perception, it requires the
they become aware that they interact with society as a whole. mediation of light in order to make the object visible.
We recognise the social contract because it is the very principle that The mediation of light affects the gradation of the vision that we obtain
made us who we are. from sight. The stronger the light, the more visible the object becomes.
The social contract allows us to become more than beasts that are The fainter it is, the less we are able to see.
governed by excesses of behaviour. The Divided Line
Without the social contract, things like commerce, education, The soul is like the eye: when resting upon that on which truth and
interaction, and property would not exist because everything else would being shine, the soul perceives and understands and is radiant with
be a matter of violent struggles for survival. intelligence; but when turned towards the twilight of becoming and
In other words, the social contract is a principle that serves the interest perishing, then she has opinion only, and goes blinking about, and is first
of the people by maintaining the possibility of social order within the of one opinion and then of another, and seems to have no intelligence?
state. The Sun is not sight, but the author of sight who is recognised by sight.
The Social Contract is an implicit agreement, it is a responsibility that we The gradation of knowledge is how we are able to distinguish between
learn and must practice immediately when we are introduced to truth and opinion. The latter is nearer to the origin or the author of
society. knowledge, the latter is farther from the source.
It is not a formal contract that we agree upon when we interact with Orhanoz intellectual Rational (Ideal)
others. It is a contract that makes socialisation possible. Orhatoz Visible Sensible (Phenomenal)
The problem with the social contract is that its goals and parameters are
not fixed. It is subject to the changing needs of the people and the state.
As such, the same dilemma is met with Machiavelli. Since the ends or
the goals of state are not immediately clear, we can only hope that
whatever design that the Leviathan has for the state, will in the end
justify the means that was made to reach it.
Plato: Overview and Context of his Texts
Real Name: Aristocles
Was nicknamed Platon because of his broad and sturdy build, and also,
because his wrestling prowess.
Served in the Peloponnesian war.
Died of old age after a drinking wine on a wedding party.
Plato claimed that he was a student of Socrates.
However, the existence of Socrates is difficult to prove. Most likely,
Plato used Socrates as a mouth-piece for his thoughts.
The Dividing Line
A Images Imprints left by the senses. They are copies of the
sensible.
B Phenomena The immediate sense perception.
C - Hypothesis Contemplation of Perception
Ideas Reason The source of knowledge

Ancient Greek Culture

Ancient Greek Culture is very dependent on social orders and


hierarchies.
One of the prominent features of this culture is the division of tasks in a Aristotle conceives ethics as a body of objective knowledge. It is a
household (hence the concept of economics or oikonomos) and the use systematic organisation of concepts and principles or laws. He considers
of slavery. ethics as a science.
Citizens enjoy a life of luxury and wealth, the men spend their time Ethics is a practical science and is concerned with correct conduct that
either by going to war, the fine arts, learning, and participation in guides man toward a life of excellence.
politics. Like Plato, he argues that happiness is the end of human desires.
Women, despite being distinct from slaves, are not given the He regards ethical virtues as complex rational, emotional, and social
entitlement to vote. They do however, enjoy the control of the estates skills.
of their husbands. Unlike Plato, Aristotle thinks that training in the sciences and
Men and Women are mostly segregated in their activities and interests. metaphysics (i.e. essences) is the only necessary pre-requisite for a full
Men often spend most of their time with other men, the same is true understanding of the idea of a good.
also with women. Aristotle insists that in order to apply general understanding to
Homosexuality is common, it is practiced in the military by men who particular cases (deduction), we must acquire, through proper
acquires their pages or trainees (pederasty) and is passed on as a upbringing and habits, the ability to see, on each occasion which course
tradition. Women, are also engaged in this act due to the need to be of action is best supported by reasons.
trained in the island of Lesbos. Ethics requires practical wisdom, and practical wisdom cannot be
That is why gymnasiums and the island of Lesbos are exclusive to either acquired solely by learning general rules.
men or women respectively. Aristotles ethics could be found in two works: (1) The Nicomachean
Ancient Greeks are fundamentally guided by their social roles. Going Ethics and (2) Eudemian Ethics.
against the norm is considered as taboo for the Ancient Greeks. Both starts with the discussion of eudaimonia or happiness and move
Ethics, Virtue and Happiness: Aristotle on to the examination of the nature of arte or virtue.
Aristotle While Plato claims that the form of the moral good is independent
Aristotle was an ancient Greek philosopher born in Stagira on 384 BC. of experience, Aristotle on the other hand rejects this idea and
He was a student of Plato, and was considered as one of his best pupils. insists that the basic moral principle is immanent in the activities of
He was supposed to take over Platos Academy, but was superseded by daily lives.
one of Platos relative. By studying these activities, the idea of a good is known through
Aristotle instead opted to tutor Alexander the Great in 343 BC; after this practical means, rather than transcendental or abstract means that
he opened his own school called the Lyceum. are supposedly permanent or unchanging.
Aristotle is one of the thinkers that laid the foundation for the scientific Eudaimonia: Happiness
method, he was also responsible for logic, aesthetic theory, psychology, For Aristotle, all human actions aim at some end, while they are often
and political theory. fuelled by desires, these desires are merely intermediate. Meaning that
Aristotles teaching style was peripatetic, he wandered around with these desires are just simply means to a greater end. An ultimate end
his students during his lectures. (or purpose/telos) means that:
Aristotles death was due to a stomach disorder. (1) self-sufficient even in itself makes it desirable and lacking nothing.
Aristotle Ethical Systems (2) final that is in itself desirable and never desired for the sake of
something else.
(3) attainability that the desired object/goal can be achieved or The state of character which enables the person to fulfil his or her
acquired. proper function aim at an intermediary point between the opposite
For Aristotle, this goal is achieved by eudaimonia or happiness. extremes of excess and deficiency.
Happiness contains two vital concepts: reason and virtue. Virtue and the Mean
Happiness is related to the highest activity of the soul which is reason. Virtue is the state of character concerned with choice in between a
This entails a life lived according to certain plan or purpose furnished mean.
by reason. The good life is involves both thinking and doing. It is relative to us and determined by a rational principle that is
Virtue is an active performance of an activity and becomes a determined by practical wisdom.
disposition that is effective and proper. A moral disposition is connected with choice, lying in a mean relative to
Virtues us.
Virtues are subdivided into two types: Moral and Intellectual. Every ethical virtue is a condition intermediate between two extreme
Intellectual virtues could either be philosophic or practical wisdom. state: excess and deficiency.
Philosophic Intellectual virtues are purely theoretical and is achieved by Too much and too little are always wrong; the right kind of action
understanding the unchanging structure of reality. always lies in the mean.
Practical Wisdom is the rational understanding of how to conduct ones A virtuous person is able to avoid these extremes and is always in a
daily life. situation of condition intermediate between the two.
Intellectual virtue is thus the product of the contemplation of A courageous person judges that some dangers are worth facing and
theoretical truths and the discovery of rational principles which ought to others are not and experiences fear to a degree that is appropriate to
guide everyday actions. his circumstances.
Moral virtues is the habitual choice of actions in accordance to rational The virtuous habit of action is always an intermediate state between the
principles. opposed vices of excess and deficiency.
To balance our desires and emotions, we need more than intellectual With respect to acting in the face of danger, courage is a mean between
virtues, we also need moral virtues. the excess of rashness and the deficiency of cowardice.
The wise individual personifies the intellectual virtues. This is attained With respect to the enjoyment of pleasure, temperance is a mean
via instruction and knowledge. between the excess of self-indulgence and the deficiency of
The continent one, personifies the moral virtues. This is attained by insensibility.
habits of choice expressed in practical actions tempered by the With respect to spending money, generosity is a mean between the
circumstances and the person itself. excess of wastefulness and the deficiency of stinginess.
Virtue as a State of Character With respect to relations with strangers, being friendly is a mean
Aristotle distinguishes three elements of human personality, passions, between the excess of being ingratiating (a sycophant) and the
faculties, and states of character. deficiency of being surly.
Passions like anger and fear, and the faculties like the ability to feel With respect to self-esteem, magnanimity or self honesty is a mean
anger and fear, are not in and of themselves good or bad. between the excess of vanity or boastfulness and the deficiency of
They must, however, be disciplined to follow the rational rules. pusillanimity or self-deprecation.
By virtue as a state of character, Aristotle means that a morally good Voluntary Action and Moral Responsibility
person is not just one who performs morally right actions, but one who Moral evaluation of an action presupposes the attribution of
has developed a habit or disposition to do what is right. responsibility to the human agent.
Human actions are involuntary under two distinct conditions: First, The great enemy of moral conduct is the failure to behave well even
actions that are produced by some external force. Second, actions on those occasions when ones deliberation has resulted to the
performed out of ignorance are also involuntary. clear knowledge of what is right.
The sort of ignorance that Aristotle regards as excusable is always Incontinent agents suffer from a sort of weakness of the will and
the lack of awareness of relevant particulars. Hurting other people this prevents them from carrying out actions in conformity with
while claiming to be ignorant of the moral rule under which it is what they have reasoned.
wrong is not excusable. The Akratic individuals lack the mastery of their feelings, and are
Decisions to act voluntarily rely upon deliberation about the choice unable to draw the appropriate connection between general moral
among alternative actions that the individual could perform. rule and the particular case to which it applies.
Aristotle supposes that moral actions are within our power to be Great pleasure can obscure ones perception of what is truly good.
performed or be avoided or even restrained. Incontinence is not genuinely moral, neither is it truly vicious.
Thus, we are reasonably held responsible for these actions and their There is a difference between an incontinent person, who knows
consequences. what is right and aims for it but is sometimes overcome by pleasure
Although the virtues are habits of acting or dispositions to act in and a self-indulgent person, who purposefully seeks excessive
certain ways, Aristotle maintains that these habits are acquired by pleasure.
engaging in proper conduct on specific occasions and that doing so The vice of self-indulgence is incurable because it destroys the
requires thinking about what one does in a specific way. principle of related virtue, which is temperance.
Neither demonstrative knowledge of the sort employed in science Incontinence is curable because the respect for virtue remains.
nor aesthetic judgment of the sort applied in crafts are relevant to A clumsy archer may get better with practice, while a skilled archer
morality. who chooses not to aim for the target will not hit the target.
Knowledge or understanding can only explore the nature of origins Happiness and the Moral Person
of things, and wisdom can only trace the demonstrable connections Pleasure is not a good in itself, since it is by nature incomplete.
among them. We are rightly guided in life by our natural preference for engaging
We need practical intelligence or prudence for morality. in pleasant activities.
Practical intelligence or prudence is the faculty that comprehends Genuine happiness lies in action that leads to virtue, since this alone
the true character of individual and community welfare. It applies provides true value and not just amusement.
its results to the guidance of human action Contemplation is the highest form of moral activity because it is
Deliberative reasoning allows us to consider each of the many continuous, pleasant, self-sufficient, and complete intellectual
actions that are within ones power to perform, considering the activity.
extent to which each of them would contribute to the attainment of The morally good person could be the one who carefully follows
the appropriate goal or end, making a deliberate choice to act in the reason, desires to do the right thing, has a well formed character.
way that best fits that end, and then voluntarily engaging in the Much of this is learned through experience.
action itself. Humes Ethics
Akrasia or Incontinence: Weakness of the Will David Hume
Aristotle rejects Platos argument that knowing something always David Hume was a Scottish philosopher, historian, and economist.
results in to the right action. He was born on 1711 and is best known for his empiricist and
sceptic position in the theory of knowledge.
Hume wants to establish the science of human nature so as to For Hume, morality is practical. It influences and regulates our conduct.
create a foundation for understanding experience and observation. The fact that reason itself does not provide a spring of action means
For Hume, ideas are not real in the sense that they are just merely that it cannot be a source of moral conduct.
impressions created by the mind. Reason is used to discover truth and falsehood.
Impressions are our original experience, they may either be However, when it comes to moral issues, one cannot just be concerned
sensations or the immediate and original contents of our own with what is true to necessary because morality is concerned with what
psychological states. one ought to do.
The more vivacious or lively these impressions are, the more that Right or wrong action cannot be discerned by the relations of ideas nor
they are ought to be considered true. appreciation of facts
Like Aristotle, Hume died of a stomach disease. (and perhaps, of Rightness and wrongness is a matter of sentiments or passion.
obesity) Hence sentiments or passions are the ultimate source of morality,
Epistemic Ethics despite this, reason plays a role in rendering moral decisions.
Hume provides a descriptive ethics rather than a prescriptive ethics. Passions are impressions rather than ideas. The direct passions, which
His moral philosophy provides a description of moral assertions and include desire, aversion, hope, fear, grief, and joy are those that arise
evaluations rather than giving a standard or norm of moral evaluation. immediately from good or evil, or from pain or pleasure.
Morality for him is tied with psychology or the nature of the mind. Indirect passions, primarily, pride, humility, love, and hatred are
He demonstrates that reason cannot provide us with knowledge about generated in a more complex way, but still one involving either the
the world, so he argues that reason plays a very limited role in our thought or experience of pain or pleasure.
moral life. Hume is against the idea that reason and passions are opposed.
Moral assertions are always contingent to matters of fact. They are He claims that reason alone cannot motivate action, the impulse to act
contingent to reality and may not always be necessarily true. itself must come from passion. Reason is merely the slave of the
While matters of fact lie on the object itself, moral assertions are rooted passions.
in human feelings. When we anticipate pain or pleasure from some source, we are
Moral assertions are always contingent to matters of fact. They are compelled naturally to either embrace or avoid these feelings.
contingent to reality and may not always be necessarily true. Reason allows us to direct ourselves in terms of our pursuit or aversion
While matters of fact lie on the object itself, moral assertions are rooted of either pain or pleasure.
in human feelings. Likewise, reason alone cannot prevent volition or resist passion in
Moral assertion is based on the conjunction of experienced events, one controlling the will.
of which is an external behavioural event, and the other is the internal Reason cannot in itself impede or allow these volitions, it can however,
mental event. project these volitions that can motivate us towards an end.
One is voluntary action (Behavioural event), and the other is a feeling of Morality Based Sentiments
either approval or disapproval (Internal Mental Event). Sentiments are natural psychological givens. It is a moral feeling
While reason provides information to our will, reason cannot compel us common to everyone.
to act, it is the passion that drives man to act, ethically or unethically. The human community can survive because we have some kind of
Ethics, thus is a study of how we act according to the conflict of reason moral feelings that tend to lead us to work for the good of the
and human passions. community.
The Rules of Passion and the Role of Reason Morality is thus, more properly felt than judged.
We discover good and evil through reasoning by showing that Through association, the images or impressions of the operation is
neither demonstrative nor causal reasoning has vice and virtue as its automatically transferred to those others that are related to it.
proper object. Because of the resemblance and my contiguity to the observed
Causal reasoning is the manner in which the sentiments of the person, the idea of his or her passion is associated in my mind.
observer is able to observe causes and effects of vice and virtue of Sympathy can take the form of a general benevolence for all
the action. In other words, it determines the mean. humanity as a sentiment which is a feeling for the happiness of
The Moral Evaluation of Character Traits: Virtue and Vice mankind and resentment for its misery.
Our moral evaluations of persons and their character traits arise This is our moral bedrock.
from our sentiments. The Approval of Natural and Artificial Virtues
Virtues and vices are those traits the disinterested contemplation of Hume divides the virtues into those that are natural and artificial.
which produces approval or disapproval. It is natural when it is immediate and independent of cultural and
The approval or disapproval of the traits that are produced in the social conventions.
disinterested individual are expressions of moral sentiments are It is artificial when they depend on character traits, social practices,
emotions. and common goods.
They are caused by contemplating on the person or action, without Our sense of every kind of virtue is not natural; but there are some
regard for ones self-interest, and is based on a common or general virtues that produce pleasure and approbation by means of an
perspective that compensates for any distortion in the observer. artifice or contrivance that comes from the circumstances and
Moral sentiments are typically calm rather than violent. They can be necessities of mankind.
intensified by the moral responses of others. The natural virtues are more refined and completed forms of those
We distinguish which traits are virtuous and which are vicious based human sentiments we could find even in people who belonged to
on our feelings. no society but cooperated within small familial groups.
We determine our feeling of approval of the virtues based on these The artificial are the ones we need for successful impersonal
characteristics: it is either immediately agreeable to the person who cooperation, our natural sentiments are too partial to give rise to
has it or to others, or it is useful to its possessor or to others. these without intervention.
Vices are parallel features, they are either immediately disagreeable Among the artificial virtues, honesty with respect to property;
or disadvantageous to the person or to the others. fidelity to promises; allegiance to ones government; conformity to
These are not definitions of virtue and vice, they are empirical the laws of the nation; chastity; good manners; and faithfulness to
generalizations of the traits according to their effects on moral promises and contracts, are among the useful artificial virtues.
sentiments. The fact that we approve the natural and artificial virtues even
The Nature of Sympathy when our own interest is not at stake, confirms that through
Approval or disapproval are products of the operation of sympathy. reflection on the tendency of characters and mental qualities, it is
It is the psychological mechanism that allows one to receive the sufficient to give us the sentiments of approbation and blame.
sentiments of another.
They function as follows:
First, it observes the effects of another persons affection and its
outward expression.