The Ring of Gyges- Plato

Explain one point Glaucon is making about human nature and why we act justly with the Shepard and ring story. Glaucon argues that all persons are egoistic and selfish. He states that the only reason people do not always do the unjust thing is because of the fear of being caught and harmed. If we look at what people really are, then we will see that they believe to do wrong is desirable and to suffer wrong is undesirable. Since we do not want to suffer wrong, we compromise with others and form a compact kind of like a social contract not to harm each other.

These agreements are the origination of justice in society. So like in the story, if we possessed a magical ring that makes us invisible when we put it on, would it be foolish to keep abiding by the law? Glaucon suggests that we shall be able to make a correct judgment about it only if we consider the most just man, and the most unjust man. For the most just man, we must take away his reputation, which would bring him honor and rewards, and it would not be clear whether he is being just for the sake of justice, or for sake of the benefits he will receive from being just.

For the most unjust man, someone who is caught must be considered a poor performer and he must be granted perfection in injustice. Glaucon concludes: “and let them be judged as to which of the two is happier. ” By comparing them I think there is no reason why the laws should be obeyed for their own sake. However, it makes sense for the owner of the ring to keep obeying the laws if doing wrong would leave them with unwanted feelings such as guilt.