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Ernesto Rodriguez

Philosophy 12: Ethics

Summer 2004

 

Midterm Question 10

 

Altogether we have studied 14 ethical theories thus far. Who is your favorite ethical theorist among the 14? Explain in depth why. Apply their ideas to the modern world and/or your own personal life.

 

Of these 14 thinkers that we have studied, the ideas of Plato appeal to me most of all. The character of Socrates in his writings is an example of the ideal rational thinker as he successfully puts logic above all things emotional or irrational. Whether or not Socrates was as perfect in person as he is found in the writings of Plato is beyond us. But nevertheless the ideas and values put forth by Plato through the character of Socrates have made an impression on myself greater than any other of these 14 philosophers.

 

Plato argued for the existence of a single, absolute and eternal truth. He argued that there is a moral standard that does not change with given circumstances, nor does it change with time. It does not allow different interpretations of itself. What is subjective, what does change with time and circumstance, is how well people can perceive that truth. The measure of justice, by this logic, is how closely something is to this absolute truth, also known as Plato's Ideal Form.  I agree that there is an absolute form of justice, but in order to perceive that form the individual must have control over their compulsions: emotion, greed, contempt and so forth. Those factors can only be overcome once the individual has learned to appreciate the value of logic and applied accordingly.

 

Plato's dialogues stressed the importance of reason over all things. Throughout the Republic and all of Plato's works, the character of Socrates is always calm and rational and lets his ideas be guided by nothing else than  reason. Always, in the face of adversity or ridicule or even death; Socrates decides what is right according to logic, and lets that determine his action. Socrates' character is the ultimate example of what is means to live by one's convictions. In the Crito Socrates goes so far as to willingly face an unjust execution so as not to violate his principle of justice.