Why should we be moral?

Why should We be MORAL?

Today in this post we will read about why should we be Moral? Several thinkers talk about this viz

Why should we be moral according to Socrates

He offers following arguments to prove that it is morally wrong to escape from the prison:
  1. Socrates argues that state is more important than an individual. He says, state is like one’s parent and teacher, and if I escape I will be disobeying my parent and teacher.
  2. He claims that by being a member of the state, one is under an agreement to obey its law, and if I escape I will be breaking that agreement, which is wrong.
  3. Socrates points out that we ought not to harm anyone. He believes that his escaping would harm the state, since it would violate and show disregard for the state’s laws.

Indian Perspective on why should we be moral?

 In Indian philosophical systems, human existence and the objective of life is explain with reference to theory of Purusharthas (Theory of Human Values) which tells us about why should we be moral?The four values are –
Artha (wealth),
Kama (sensual pleasure),
Dharma (virtue/justice) and
Moksha (liberation/salvation/empowerment).

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)

English thinker, describe a life where people had not come together to co-operate in an ethical manner as “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”. In Leviathan, he argues for the necessary supremacy of a strong monarch. He points out that before being civilise, Humanity exist in a ‘state of nature’. where everyone was at war with other. To escape from this state, people had to join together. And accept a social contract under a king and give their natural rights to him.

Why should we be moral according to Plato (427-347 BCE)

Plato Live in Athens and is a prominent Greek, philosopher/thinker. In the Republic, he has explained the concept of justice (moral rightness). Plato, through Socrates, argues that there will be justice only when there is a rule of reason and reason and the people obey its commands. Thus, according to Plato, the ruler must be a philosopher (philosopher-king).
Why should we be moral Plato

Plato about Republic

In the Republic, Plato tries to examine whether it is in one’s own interest to be a moral person. It is assume that injustice (immorality) pays, if one can get away with it. On the other hand, justice or moral behaviour merely serves the interests of others. Plato tries to establish that justice or morality is so great a good that it is worth any sacrifice.
In the Republic, the opponents of Socrates argue that given a chance everyone would like to be immoral or they wanna know why should we be moral. But because of the fear of punishment people remain moral. That is, given a chance one would prefer to have an ideal life. where one has absolute freedom to do just anything. But the problem is everyone would like to do the same and this would result into a state of chaos and conflict. where no one would be able to fulfil any desire. Thus, people have compromised and the result of that compromise is justice or a system of morality.

The Story of Gyges’ Ring:

Glaucon, who is having an argument with Socrates, tells the story of a Shepherd named Gyges , who finds a ring that can make him invisible at his command. Gyges uses the ring to his advantage and fulfils all his greed with impunity. Glaucon says that it is plausible to suppose that we all would do the same if we get hold of such a ring. Now, Glaucon offers a thought experiment:
He says, suppose there are two such rings, one is given to a wicked person and another to a virtuous person, No doubt the wicked person will act like Gyges. But why Should a virtuous person care about morality when there is no fear of punishment. He compares the life of the seemingly just person (but really unjust or wicked), who is incredibly successful, with the life of seemingly unjust person (but really just), who is incredibly unsuccessful. Now, the question is life ought we to choose?


There are thinkers who accept internal integrity but reject external integrity. They argue that the principles of traditional ethics are applied uniformly to everyone regardless of uniqueness of personality and circumstances, and such an attempt undermines the basis integrity. Four prominent thinkers who hold such a view are Nietzsche, Sartre, Kierkegaard and Taoist. However, each thinker has a unique understanding of integrity.
Indian Perspective on Integrity
Following Indian ethical systems, integrity can be understood as self realisation (knowledge of who one is) as well as integrity of the individual with the ideal. It has elements of both internal and external integrity.
Integrity can be properly understood through the conceptions of bondage and liberation. Bondage is a state of misery and pain, while librarian is the state of perfection and empowerment. Liberation can also be understood as integrity of individual with the ideal. This journey of self is explain with the analogy of the chariot, given in the Bhagavadgita and Katha Upanishad. The analogy urges us to act like an able charioteer (Sarathi), who guides the horses properly through the reins. In other words, a moral aspirant shall restrain the horses of sense organs from running wild and strive to follow the path of virtue/just path.
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If You light a lamp for someone else. It will also brighten your path. And that's what I believe.

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