Values and Society – Lecture 2
Moral rules are the rules that establish a system of trust.
Ethical Egoism: the view that it is best to perform only these actions that are aimed at fulfilling our own
desires and interests, regardless of the effects such actions have on others (being selfish).
Why should I be moral, rather than simple doing whatever is to my advantage?
Why people behave ‘justly’:
There are two scenarios as to why people behave justly.
1) (Best) To do injustice and not be punished.
2) (Worst) To suffer injustice without being able to retaliate.
Glaucon believes we long for scenario 1, but fear scenario 2. He believes justice not chosen simply for its
own sake, but instead chosen as the lesser evil. We only choose justice to avoid being victims of
injustice. He also believes that law is a tool of the weak (and those who use it, use it only so they can
avoid being victims).
3 Options Surrounding Justice:
1) Forego rules of justice. That is, every person for themselves. (Glaucon believes that everybody
2) Establish and be bound by the rules of justice, but to do so grudgingly.
3) Be bound by these rules willingly, which is to believe that justice and morality are right.
Ring of Invisibility Scenario:
Glaucon proposes that anyone who had this ring of invisibility would act in the same way that Gyges
does (kills the king and becomes a tyrant). He believes that if anyone could get away with injustice
without being punished, that they would.
The unjust person has a disordered soul. They may be cheerful, but there is a difference between
cheerful and happy, and anyone with a disordered soul is unhappy. A disordered soul occurs when one
cannot help fulfilling desires. The Tripartite Soul:
(voice of consciousness)
Spirit (Willfulness, courage)
If reason and appetite are flipped, you have a disordered soul and are a tyrant. Plato believes a tyrant
cannot be happy because they constantly desire things, and hunger after things causes pain. The tyrant
Glaucon responds to this answer by saying who cares about a disordered soul, if you go through your
entire life without realizing you are unhappy because you are cheerful?
Aspects of a Tyrant:
- Constantly unfulfilled desires that tend to become more bizarre.
- Pathological paranoia due to creating so many enemies