TheCritique of the Story of Gyges Ring
Glaucon’s definition of justice insists that people will actmorally since they fear the impact of the punishment. He also usesthe ‘magical ring’ to reveal that power makes people invisibleand they will seek justice to protect themselves from any punishment.Instead, such assumptions seem a bit misleading. For instance, mycounterargument will prove that people behave morally because theyare afraid of the negative consequences that their evil deeds willhave. A person that drives recklessly will kill people, and thatshows how evil deeds have negative consequences. Instead, one willchoose to drive carefully since they will avoid loss of lives anddestruction of property. In this case, people will undertake the gooddeeds since that will have positive consequences and create order inthe society. The paper will also disagree with the assumption of the“magical ring” that makes the powerful people invisible. In fact,certain politicians have been criticized and forced to resign becauseof the evil deeds they did. The scenario proves that an evil deedwill have negative consequences regardless of the social status theyhave. This essay will disagree with Glaucon’s argument thatpunishment is a basis for morality instead, it will reveal that anaction will have consequences, and people will avoid evil deedsbecause of the negative consequences they have.
In this case, Glaucon reveals that people believe that wrong isdesirable while the wrong is often undesirable. Hence, they willoften want to keep doing wrong and find a way of protectingthemselves. In fact, some of them will also form a social contractwith other people that to protect them from any punishment. Glauconrefers to the social contract as the origin of justice since itprotects the evil doers from the punishment. To some extent, Glauconis saying that justice is based on the fear of punishment. He alsobelieves that the absence of justice would make everyone actimmorally since no one will be punished. Besides that, the fear ofpunishment has acted as the basis of morality in the society instead.Glaucon also reveals that the magic ring tends to favor the powerfulpeople in the society since they will commit any crime without havingany fears of the consequences that will arise.
The assumption that the fear of punishment is the basis of moralityis somehow wrong since it does not consider the consequences of theevil and good deeds. Instead, people tend to observe justice andengage in good deeds because of the positive consequences. Forinstance, it is clear that a good and a bad person will do evil ifthey are told to anything they want since they find it to be morepleasurable. They will only avoid doing any good since it is lesspleasurable. However, when a person is told to think about theconsequences, then it is less likely that one will engage in evilactivities (Miscevic, 154). More specifically, evil activities areknown to have negative consequences that might hurt others. A persondriving recklessly might end up killing or injuring other road users.A person that decides to drive carefully will save lives and reachhis or her destination safely. Evidently, people will decide to dogood because they want to have positive consequences for the society.In fact, a society that everyone is doing evil will be characterizedby chaos and conflicts between different groups of people. Hence, thepresence of justice through the laws and customs tends to createorder by reducing the evil deeds. Besides that, justice also controlsthe negative consequences in the society (Miscevic, 158). The factthat only punishment scares people and makes them observe the moralsis wrong. In conclusion, people will observe good deeds and ignorethe evil ones since they are afraid of the negative consequences thatmight arise later.
Apart from the punishment acting as the basis for morality, theassumption of the magical ring that makes people invisible is alsowrong. The evil or good acts of a person are not considered based ontheir social status. Regardless of the social status, an evil deedwill still retain the immoral elements that it has (Miscevic, 159).Hence, the assumption that justice is a way of protecting thepowerful people from the punishment is clearly wrong. For instance,some of the powerful people have engaged in evil acts, and they hadto face the law. In fact, it will be weird to engage in evilactivities just because of the power or invisibility that the ‘magicring’ provides. The scenario also reveals some immoral activitiessuch as engaging in evil acts just because of the power. It will beimmoral if one behaves like Governor Eliot Spitzer that had a sexscandal with a call girl. One will still be wrong if he engages inextramarital affairs just like Governor Mark Sanford did with a womanin Argentina. In fact, the power often makes one more visible sincethe tabloids will cover the evil deeds that one has undertaken.
In conclusion, Glaucon’s argument is wrong since punishment is notthe only thing that will force people to be just. On the other hand,people will behave morally since they are afraid of the negativeconsequences and not just the punishment that the laws will provide.For instance, a reckless driver will kill and injure people. Instead,the society will respect the laws and the customs since they areafraid of the negative consequences. In fact, the positiveconsequences tend to make the society peaceful and orderly as well.The assumption that the magical ring makes powerful people invisibleseems a bit misleading, and it undermines Glaucon’s argument. Mostpowerful people have been exposed for their evil deeds and forced toleave office. Governor Eliot Spitzer and Governor Mark Sanford arejust an example of how power does not make them invisible to justice.
Miscevic, Nenad. "Plato’s Republic as a political thoughtexperiment." Croatian Journal of Philosophy 35 (2012):153-165.