Theorists and Philosophers for Law Enforcement Ethics Training: Aristotle

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    Piety requires us to honor truth above our friends.
    - Aristotle
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    Dr. Frank Kardasz

    Aristotle was a Greek philosopher whose ideas are often cited by contemporary ethics instructors.  
    Aristotle lived from 384 B.C. to 322 B.C. and studied under Plato. Ethics, according to Aristotle, is the
    endeavor to determine our chief end or highest good. He believed that a persons aspirations and
    desires must have some final object. Such a chief end is universally called happiness. (1)

    Many interesting quotes and ideas are attributed to Aristotle. Regarding human nature and motives,
    Aristotle said, "All human actions have one or more of these seven causes: chance, nature,
    compulsions, habit, reason, passion, desire." (2)

    For Aristotle, ethical behavior was partly a matter of practice. He said, "Men acquire a particular quality by
    constantly acting a particular way...you become just by performing just actions, temperate by performing
    temperate actions, brave by performing brave actions." (3)  More simply put, according to Aristotle,
    "We are what we repeatedly do." (4)

    Aristotle had interesting ideas about law and justice. He believed that the discourse and study of
    philosophy helps create an understanding of society that guides one towards proper action. He said: "I
    have gained this by philosophy: that I do without being commanded what others do only from fear of the
    law." (5)

    Aristotle believed in law and order. He knew that without education, training, and laws, insurrection
    results. He said, "Man perfected by society is the best of all animals; he is the most terrible of all when
    he lives without law, and without justice." (6) This simple statement, attributed to Aristotle, demonstrates
    his respect for rules, "Law is order, and good law is good order." (7)

    For Aristotle, laws were not meant to be cast forever in stone. He recognized the fluid nature of law when
    he said, "Even when laws have been written down, they ought not always to remain unaltered." (8)
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    References

    (1) Aristotle, (384-322 BCE.) Overview, The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Retrieved April 28, 2003
    from
    http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/a/aristotl.htm

    (2) Aristotle, Rhetoric, The Radical Academy, Philosophy Resource Center, Retrieved April 28, 2003 from
    http://radicalacademy.com/philosophicalquotations27.htm

    (3) Aristotle, Laura Moncur's Motivational Quotations, from The Quotations Page, Retrieved April 28, 2003
    from
    http://www.quotationspage.com/search.php3?Search=&Author=aristotle&C=mgm&
    C=motivate&C=classic &C=coles&C=lindsly&C=poorc&C=net&
    C=devils&C=contrib&x=43&y=12

    (4) Aristotle, Laura Moncur's Motivational Quotations, from The Quotations Page, Retrieved April 28, 2003
    from
    http://www.quotationspage.com/search.php3?Search=&Author=aristotle&C=mgm&
    C=motivate&C=classic&
    C=coles&C=lindsly&C=poorc&C=net&C=devils&C=contrib&x=43&
    y=12

    (5) Aristotle, Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, Classic Quotes, from The Quotations
    Page,
    Retrieved April 28, 2003 from http://www.quotationspage.com/search.php3?Search=&
    Author=aristotle&
    C=mgm&C=motivate&C=classic&C=coles&C=lindsly&C=poorc&
    C=net&C=devils&C=contrib&page=2

    (6) Aristotle, Classic Quotes, from The Quotations Page, Retrieved April 28, 2003 from
    http://www.quotationspage.com/search.php3?Search=&Author=aristotle&C=mgm&
    C=motivate&C=classic&C
    =coles&C=lindsly&C=poorc&C=net&C=devils&C=contrib&page=6

    (7) Aristotle, Politics, Classic Quotes, from The Quotations Page, Retrieved April 28, 2003 from
    http://www.quotationspage.com/search.php3?Search=&Author=aristotle&C=mgm&
    C=motivate&C=classic&
    C=coles&C=lindsly&C=poorc&C=net&C=devils&C=contrib&page=5

    (8) Aristotle, Politics, Classic Quotes, from The Quotations Page, Retrieved April 28, 2003 from  
    http://www.quotationspage.com/search.php3?Search=&Author=aristotle&C=mgm&
    C=motivate&C=classic&
    C=coles&C=lindsly&C=poorc&C=net&C=devils&C=contrib&page=

Dr. Frank Kardasz  P.O. Box 45048 Phoenix, AZ 85064
e-mail:  
kardasz(at)kardasz.org
blog:  www.kardasz.org/blog1/

Ethics Training for Law Enforcement