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Question Number Two Essay

1426 words - 6 pages

In the United States, law dictates that a moving vehicle must come to complete stop at a red traffic light. Refusing to do so could result in legal action. Imagine a situation where an individual is driving a sick, loved-one home, in the early hours of the morning, so that he/she could take the necessary medication, but comes to an exceedingly long red light. The question then arises of what the driver should do. If there is absolutely no threat of collision with an oncoming vehicle, the driver could take a risk and illegally drive through the stop light. On the other hand, he/she could obey the law, and wait at the light until it turns green. Different political theorists have provided different views on the relationship between the individual and the government, particularly its laws. Each theory, therefore, suggests a different solution to this situation.
Plato, in writing the Republic, seeks to determine a definition of justice, and the best way for society to be governed. He describes justice as being achieved when everyone in a given society adhere to their given roles and responsibilities without meddling into those of others. He believes that an ideal government would be led by a “philosopher king”. In describing why this would be a preferred constitution over democracy, for example, Plato uses an analogy involving a ship. He describes a ship with a crew reigning over it versus one with a captain leading those men. The crew, if in charge, does not have the expertise necessary to maintain the ship. Conflicting ideas and incapacity for the necessary skills make this situation a disastrous one, according to Plato. Therefore, a captain is necessary to keep the ship and its crew in order. This figure would have the knowledge and talent required to keep a ship running, and get it to its destination. Plato believes that a society ought to be governed in the same manner. People do not have the knowledge, nor capacity, to make decisions necessary to run a city-state. A leader is required. Therefore, the laws that this leader enacts must be adhered to, because Plato does not believe that human beings truly understand what is best for the community. Therefore, given the question of whether or not an individual should run a red light, Plato would most likely believe that the law remain relevant, and ought to be obeyed. This is because the leader who enacted that law did so under the understanding that doing so would be for the common good of society.
Hobbes holds a cynical view on the nature of human beings. He believes that they are not naturally good. Government, specifically its laws, are therefore necessary in order to make sound decision for its people and maintain peace and order within society. Like Plato, Hobbes believes that laws hold an important place, and ought to be followed for the sake of the community. Hobbes believes that a sovereign is necessary to create agreements under which people must cooperate with one another, to keep...

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