Theorists and Philosophers for Law Enforcement Ethics Training: Plato & Socrates

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    You are so young, my son, and, as the years go by, time will change and even reverse many of your
    present opinions. Refrain therefore awhile from setting yourself up as judge of the highest matters.
    - Plato
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    Greek philosophy continues to influence western thought about ethics and justice. The works of Plato,
    Socrates and Aristotle are sometimes used by law enforcement ethics instructors. Various interpretations
    of their works from the original Greek writings are available with some differences based on the
    translations into English.

    Plato

    Plato lived from 427 B.C to 347 B.C. One of his famous works was The Republic in which he described his
    beliefs about justice and happiness. Plato believed a philosophical comportment toward life would lead
    one to justice and happiness. (1)

    Regarding justice, and the importance of detecting and punishing the unjust, Plato said:

    What shall he profit, if his injustice be undetected and unpunished? He who is
    undetected only gets worse, whereas he who is detected and punished has the
    brutal part of his nature silenced and humanized; the gentler element in him is
    liberated, and his whole soul is perfected and ennobled by the acquirement of
    justice and temperance and wisdom, more than the body ever is by receiving
    gifts of beauty, strength and health, in proportion as the soul is more
    honourable than the body. (2)

    About greed, and the deterioration of ethics it causes, Plato said:

    And is not a man reproached for flattery and meanness who subordinates the
    spirited animal to the unruly monster, and, for the sake of money, of which
    he can never have enough, habituates him in the days of his youth to be
    trampled in the mire, and from being a lion to become a monkey? (3)

    References

    (1) Beavers, A.F., Planeaux, C., Exploring Plato's Dialogues, The Life of Plato, A Virtual Learning
    Environment on the World-Wide Web, Retrieved April 27, 2003 from http://plato.evansville.edu/life.htm

    (2) Exploring Plato's Dialogues, (Jowett translation), A Virtual Learning Environment on the World Wide
    Web, Republic 38 (588b-592b) Retrieved April 27, 2003 from http://plato.evansville.
    edu/texts/jowett/republic38.htm

    (3) Exploring Plato's Dialogues, (Jowett translation), A Virtual Learning Environment on the World Wide
    Web, Republic 38 (588b-592b) Retrieved April 27, 2003 from http://plato.evansville.
    edu/texts/jowett/republic38.htm
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    Socrates

    Socrates lived from 469 B.C. to 399 B.C. He mentored and tutored Plato who later recorded Socrates
    ideas.

    Regarding preservation of good character, Socrates said:

    Regard your good name as the richest jewel you can possibly be possessed of - for credit is like fire;
    when once you have kindled it you may easily preserve it, but if you once extinguish it, you will find it an
    arduous task to rekindle it again. The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to
    appear. (1)

    About honor and pretension, Socrates said, The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what
    we pretend to be. (2)

    References

    (1) Socrates, Laura Moncur's Motivational Quotations, The Quotations Page, Retrieved April 27, 2003 from
    http://www.quotationspage.com/search.php3?Search=&Author=socrates&C=mgm&C=motivate&
    C=classic&C=coles&C=lindsly&C=poorc&C=net&C=devils&C=contrib&x=38&y=5

    (2) Socrates, Rand Lindsly's' Quotations, The Quotations Page, Retrieved April 28, 2003 from
    http://www.quotationspage.com/search.php3?Search=&Author=socrates&C=classic&C=coles&C=lindsly
    &C=poorc&C=net&C=devils&C=contrib&page=2
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    Purchase the book:
    Kardasz, F. (2008). Ethics training for law enforcement: Practices and trends.
    Saarbrücken, Germany: VDM Verlag.
    ISBN: 3639001567. ISBN-13: 9783639001563.
    Available from http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/3639001567/
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