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The concept of justice enables human beings living in different societies to be fair and rational in their dealings. Descartes reveals that people’s perceptions and attitudes are influenced by strong religious beliefs. God is the source of all good things that happen to man and his teachings have a positive influence on people, regardless of their cultural and social backgrounds.
As a result, they are able to make clear distinctions between right and wrong actions to ensure they do not deviate from God’s real teachings. People’s sense of judgment makes them understand consequences they are likely to face if they choose to engage in different actions (Bennet 2). Therefore, Descartes emphasises that theological ideas influence how people understand and apply justice.
Descartes’ arguments show that religion has a big role to play in making people understand justice and its benefits. In this regard, it shapes their ideals about different issues that affect how they enjoy various liberties and freedoms. Descartes shows that people’s emotions are shaped by encounters they have with other people from similar or different backgrounds.
These interactions enable them to have common beliefs and principles which form the basis of laws and social codes that are observed by people living in different societies (Bennet 5). Descartes’ arguments show that theological understanding makes people to submit to governmental authority and the rule of law.
The Euthyphro is a dialogue between Euthyphro and Socrates regarding the application of justice under the ancient Greek justice system. This dialogue demonstrates the ignorance people have about the concept of justice and how it is applied in different social and political systems.
Socrates has been accused of impiety because of his liberal statements on Greek gods and religious beliefs. Through the dialogue, Socrates is interested in uncovering the real meaning of piety and how it relates to the concept of the justice under the Athenian legal system (Plato). One of the major arguments that come out of the debate is how the concept of piety is understood. Euthyphro insists that piety involves actions that please the gods; a view opposed by Socrates who insists that the gods do not always have similar opinions.
Socrates and Euthyphro show that the application of justice in different societies is not always fair. As revealed in the dialogue, the law cannot only be influenced by religious teachings because human beliefs and lifestyles are constantly changing. Therefore, people need to analyse different liberal positions that serve as pillars on which legal principles are founded. This will ensure that they come up with realistic and fair laws.
In this context, religious doctrines should not be the only basis that influences how laws are formed, applied and enforced in various societies (Plato). Effective justice systems serve the interests of both minority and majority segments of the population without bias. Theologically influenced interpretations of the law are not likely to be responsive to expectations of people living in different societies. They are can be easily manipulated by influential people in the society to achieve their own selfish interests.
Comparisons and Contrasts
Descartes’ arguments that people’s values systems are influenced by religious teachings are true. Plato’s insistence that the application of justice should not only be interpreted from a religious angle is accurate.
Descartes fails to note that some religious teachings are not similar and as such, this brings about confusion regarding the way justice needs to be applied. Plato’s arguments are ambiguous because they do not offer a rational basis about how religion can be used to ensure the application of justice is done in a fair and rational manner.
Bennet, Jonathan. “Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy.” Early Modern Texts. Early Modern Texts, April 2007. Web.
Plato. Euthyphro. Trans. Benjamin Jowett. The Internet Classics Archive. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2009. Web.