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PSY 211 East Tennessee State University Plato Version & Situation Ethics Discussion

Part 1:

Watch: “Plato’s Form of the Good”


4. Plato’s Form of the Good

Straightforward and comprehensive explanation of Plato’s Form of the Good, for the A level OCR Religious Studies course.

Initial Post: As was stated in the video, Plato’s form of the Good is the form that orders all other forms. Just like the sun illumines the world of the senses, allowing us to “see” what is around us clearly, the form of the good illumines our soul and mind, allowing us to understand what is true. In contrast, when we try to understand truth by using our senses, we will only come to “opinion,” which is prone to error. Plato also said that the form of the good is perfect (it is goodness itself), immutable (it cannot change), eternal (it is not contingent, it has always been and always will be), and “non-sensible” (it cannot be perceived by the senses, but only by the mind). In less technical terms, we might say that the Good is the source of eternal truths that do not change, are not determined by human circumstances, and cannot be deduced by experience. Since human ethical and moral teachings are associated with what is good, we can see how Plato’s teaching relates to his understanding of ethical norms. He argued that ethical norms are not deduced or determined by human experiences or circumstances. Rather, these universal and eternal norms are perceived and recalled in the soul through reason. A modern version of this would be Kant’s Categorical Imperative. A religious version would be the argument that God revealed the 10 Commandments to Moses at Mt. Sinai, and these immutable laws are eternally applicable in all cases, and in all places. In other words, this perspective is the opposite of “situation ethics,” where ethical norms are determined on the basis of the situation. [Situation ethics rejects ‘prefabricated decisions and prescriptive rules’. It teaches that ethical decisions should follow flexible guidelines rather than absolute rules, and be taken on a case by case basis.]

In two paragraphs (each consisting of no more than 4-5 sentences), respond to the following two questions: In the first paragraph, describe which of these two ways of viewing ethics (Plato’s version or situation ethics) makes most sense IN THEORY. That is, which seems to have the greater claim to authority and truth. Try to explain WHY. In the second paragraph, identify which of these two ways of viewing ethics (Plato’s version or situation ethics) makes the most sense IN PRACTICAL APPLICATION. That is, which seems to have the greater claim to effectiveness in the life of the ordinary person? Again, explain WHY.

Part 2:
( I will send it later after you give me part 1 )
In your second post, tally how many of your classmates believed that Plato’s version had the greater claim to authority and truth, and how many believed that situation ethics had the greater claim. Then, in one paragraph (no more that 4-5 sentences), identify one insight from a classmate that really struck you, and explain what struck you about that insight.


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