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Essay on the moral Ideologies of Plato and the Immoralists.

Moral ideology does not age. While times may change, cultures adapt, and social
standards evolve, what one chooses to believe in regards to moral philosophy would be almost
universal across all moral dilemmas. This all leads to the question of whether one would be wiser
to live either morally or immorally. The argument dates back as far as the days of Plato in
Ancient Greece. On one hand you have the immoralists who support the notion that the best life
is one that is lived immorally. While on the other hand you have Plato, who claims that the moral
life is the best life. Overall, I do not believe that Plato provides good enough reasons to suggest
that the good life is the best life nor does he provide an adequate solution to the moral problems
raised by the immoralists.
The immoralists had certain believes about morality that they swore by. Among these is
the claim that being immoral leads to a better and more rewarding life than being moral. They
back up their claims by presenting multiple problems encountered within moral philosophy. For
one, they bring up the problem of relativism when it comes to morals. In my opinion, it is
difficult to argue with that point as it is certainly true that many individuals living in the same
area will have different morals. The argument is even more valid when considering moral
differences among the entire world. The immoralists also claim that all humans are selfish and
self-centered. They suggest that this presents a problem to moral philosophy because essentially,
all humans will act according to their bests interests. I find this to mean that essentially, there is
no such thing as acting immorally since all humans are acting based on their own individual best
interests regardless of morality.

On the other end of the morality argument you have Plato. Plato claims that the moral
person lives a happier and more rewarding life. According to his virtue theory, someone who
leads a moral life will have an equal balance of intellect, emotional courage, and moderation
with appetites. Essentially, Plato believes that someone who leads a moral life will be happy
solely on the basis that they are doing the right thing and living a just and balanced life. He
claims that someone who leads a moral lifestyle will always be faced with good consequences
and an overall harmony within the soul.
Those who agree with Platos views would claim that living a just life results in the best
life since you know that you are someone that does the right thing. These individuals would
claim that behaving morally leads to many intrinsic rewards which far outweigh any momentary
extrinsic benefits one may experience behaving immorally. Those ideas are flawed for a
multitude of reasons. For starters, perhaps the largest problem in my opinion with these views is
that they are relative. Whether supporters of Plato's ideologies approve of relativism or not, there
is no denying that the positive consequences of acting morally will be relative to what you
consider to be positive. In reality, most of the rewards will be based solely on positive feelings
about yourself as a person. That brings up another flaw with these arguments. They are
hypocritical in nature. I would agree with the immoralists that in reality everyone is immoral
because those who claim not to be are still most likely in search of selfish pursuits. Things such
as having good karma or attaining a reputation as someone who lives the just life.
Relativism aside, I still believe there are actual physical reasons why the immoralists
present a more solid argument than Plato. I would say that throughout history, those who have
lived immorally have always had the upper hand and led better lives. Most people would agree
that one of the biggest factors influencing the quality of someone's life would be their financial

status. By nature, people who are wealthy will have to do some immoral things to hold on to
their wealth. For example, if you are the CEO of a huge corporation, you will likely be polluting
the land of some citizens and/or contributing to immoral, cheap labor. You will likely be causing
distress to some people living near areas that you pollute and/or those employed by you yet
working for a ridiculously low fraction of what you make. However, those things will not affect
the quality of your life. Because you chose to live immorally, you will be very wealthy and will
be nowhere near the communities whose downfall you are contributing to.
Looking further at the same example, but from Plato's point of view. Let's say you are
this wealthy CEO. You realize you have been living an immoral life and you decide that you will
live a moral life from now on. When you run into that homeless man every morning, you will no
longer lie and say that you don't have any change. You will open up your wallet and help him
out. You will close down factories in third world countries and stop contributing to outsourced
cheap labor and global pollution. You will give a raise to all of your employees who are
struggling financially to raise their families. You will never lie about your competitors or anyone
else for that matter. You will never steal ideas from anyone or treat anyone like they are below
you in status. Inevitably at this point, there is only one outcome you are likely to face. Your
company will fall. It will either crumble all together or those who share power with you will get
rid of you. At that point the question remains; which version of the CEO led the better life? The
one who was wealthy, had a nice family, a big house, tons of friends, and was oblivious to all
of the damage that he was causing, or the one who now lives a moral life but has lost all of his
wealth. It is important to note that upon losing his wealth, his wife would most likely leave him
for a new rich and successful man (that is, assuming she is immoral, which as most humans she
probably is). He would obviously also lose his mansion and most certainly a majority if not all of

his friends. He will only be left with his morality, while the rest of the immoral world moves on
without him.
As stated in Norman Melchert's The Great Conversation, Happiness is one thing that
everyone admits is good by nature (physis); it isn't just by convention (nomos) that we agree on
that. Plato attempts to suggest that being moral is in your long-term interest because it is the
only way to truly be happy. Yet, I would say that in my previously illustrated example of the
corporate CEO, it was actually being immoral that would lead him to long-term happiness.
Thereby, the case is made that the good life is not the best life.
All in all, I believe that I have presented sufficient evidence to argue that Plato is not
justified in claiming that the good life is the best life. Overall, I would say that humans who live
immorally are the ones that truly live the best life as they are the ones whom are able to reap the
benefits of the extrinsic rewards that only immorality can bring. While some may argue that one
cannot experience intrinsic rewards such as happiness and self-respect from behaving immorally,
I would say that is incorrect. My reasoning goes back to the immoralists presentation of human
psychological egoism as a problem to moral philosophy. One who lives immorally and is
surrounded by extrinsic rewards would most likely also have happiness and self-respect. Due to
human egoism, even those who are immoral will genuinely believe that they are actually good,
respectable people. Being that the immoral person has a self-image consisting of confidence,
self-respect and overall happiness, as well as the financial wealth and reputation to back up those
intrinsic motivators, it is truly the immoral person that lives the best life.

Works Cited
Melchert, Norman. The Great Conversation: A Historical Introduction to Philosophy. New York:
Oxford UP, 2011. 146-51. Print.