General Studies Paper 4 (Ethics): Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.” – Plato.



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Syllabus: General Studies Paper 4 (Ethics)


Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.” – Plato. Analyze (10 Marks)



 What makes people good and bad 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. The real meaning of good and bad lies in use of ‘morality’ Not the government forced coercion that most atheists claim morality to be, but the inward need of moral values and virtues in the heart of every individual.


It is over simplistic to state that there are only good and bad people. Each person is capable of good and bad choices at any given moment. Laws are a way of enforcing control on the average person.  They serve to discourage crime through the threat of punishment and control the herd through fear of being punished.

Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly,
the above statement can be well explained with a situation, 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 infact imbibed those ideals in his personality.

Ex: A person who is honest, and having morality values always acts against corruption, and always thinks about the impact of corruption on society, though his surroundings may not support him to act against the corruption, but he always listens to his inner voice(morality) and act as a responsible citizen.   

Bad People will find a way around the laws.

    Pre-emptive laws only make honest people honest – it does nothing to deter crime. A criminal has no inward ‘morality’ that governs his actions, for those, who always wish to act immoral ways, no matter how much you try to enforce the law, they will find an alternative.  Criminal’s break the law with no thought TO the law that is, without personally restraining him and taking him out of society. 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.

Ex: As we know doing corruption is a big crime, and many laws are enforced against the corruption actions, but still many people find way-out, and indulge in corruption activities, this shows that they have no code (moral values)


“Good people” have a certain inward law or code (morality) within themselves that make them able to be self governing, regardless of any outward law. “Bad people”, on the other hand, have no ‘code’ or inward set of ‘values’ (morality) and need the forcible structure of the law.

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 infact come into picture is better training of an individual from childhood to be a member of a responsible society.


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