Plato – UPSC Ethics Thinkers


Given below are quotations and for each of these bring out what it means to you in present context in about 150 words each:
(a) “When a man assumes a public trust, he should consider himself as public property” – Thomas Jefferson.
(b) “Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.” – Plato
“When a man assumes a public trust, he should consider himself as public property” – Thomas Jefferson.
A man becomes trustworthy after people watch his actions in general. Trust comes only after test. So, if a person is bestowed with trust by the public, his actions become the call of routine. To put it in other way, his actions define what he was before he assumed trust and what is expected out of him later. For instance, Gandhiji was widely trusted by people. He gained trust by his “practice what you preach” approach. He gave up his luxuries to match the masses for whom he stood up.
Trust, belongs to the worthy, definitely makes the concerned person a public property where his actions are expected to be free from favouritism, nepotism and other such functional ills. His actions must be directed towards larger public good as he is answerable to the public. The case in point is that of our politicians. They hold office of considerable trust and their actions come in public domain. How far the trust is maintained though, is an evolving debate.
(b) “Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.” – Plato
What makes people good are their actions. If a person is thought to be responsible in his actions, he understands what his actions hold for him as well as for the society. Sometimes, it is perceived that if a person is not indulging in an anti-people activity, he does not have guts to do so. This belief is questionable. A person who bears subtle form of social controls in his life, and doesn’t indulge in actions which need to be controlled by laws, has in fact imbibed those ideals in his personality.
While the bad elements, people who are not concerned about the larger good when they indulge in any activity, lack the “good” trait in their personality and fundamentals. Even if the society tries to contain them into laws and impositions, they will find a way out because their tendencies are framed in that manner.
Being good or bad, is essentially defined by what a person holds as ideals and how responsibly he chooses his actions. Laws come into picture for social control. What must in fact come into picture is better training of an individual from childhood to be a member of a responsible society.


Today’s world is in need of reviving the Plato’s idea of “philosopher kings” or the Kautilya’s idea of “Rajarshi” (saintly king). Do you agree with this view and why? How far do you think does this hold good for present day political leaders? (200 Words)
Plato Idea of “Philosopher Kings”, Desires the King or head to Be Wisdom Lover, Looking all aspects before taking any action . Kautilya Idea of Rajrishi are also for Virtuous or Wise king. They also state that Head should be Risen above his harmful temptation , must be vigil , open to Ideas ,Always promoting Security and welfare of people, Learning through various Sources, non violence ,Avoiding extravagance ,Indulging in Association to harm others and discouraging such association
Yes I do Subscribe to this Statement For Instance , Imbibing Principles of Austerity[Anti-extravagance] , Crisis in Greece which are also causing suffering to other can also be averted , and Spurting crisis of extravagance in Turkey are also causing Distress ,Thus here Kautilya Ideas Appear to be Valid
~Another Stance Viz China requesting US to Include Beijing In TPP ,Despite known fact that such Move was Aimed at curbing Beijing expansion is also a wise stand based On
“open to ideas’ of Kautilya ideas
~Saudi Arabia non cut of Oil prices stance which is mainly Association to Harm others [US shale gas and Russia in one go] is also against the Kautilya ideas which could be averted and saving the precious Resources
~Israel-Palestine Issue can also be solved , by both Heads though Opening of Ideas or Philosopher Kings , and adhering to nonviolence as imbibed in kautilya Ideas of Rajrishi.
~Russia _Pak Cooperation and Defence deals which may prove harmful Against India ,is also against the principles of above 2 theories.
In brief If Ideas aforesaid were practised various crisis and Problems associated could have been averted, had our head of Government though Beyond their “temptations”
2 facts rest my case for relevance of these statements in contemporary times:
(1). Political leaders exist to uphold “Public Welfare”
(2). Political leaders are not able to uphold it.
Hence, we need above mentioned strategies.



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