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2. The Ring of Gyges: Morality and Hypocrisy

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Published on Apr 5, 2012

Philosophy and the Science of Human Nature (PHIL 181)

After introducing Plato's Republic, Professor Gendler turns to the discussion of Glaucon's challenge in Book II. Glaucon challenges Socrates to defend his claim that acting justly (morally) is valuable in itself, not merely as a means to some other end (in this case, the reputation one gets from seeming just). To bolster the opposing position--that acting justly is only valuable as a means to attaining a good reputation--Glaucon sketches the thought experiment of the Ring of Gyges. In the second half of the lecture, Professor Gendler discusses the experimental results of Daniel Batson, which suggest that, at least in certain controlled laboratory settings, people appear to care more about seeming moral than about actually acting fairly. These experimental results appear to support Glaucon's hypothesis in the Ring of Gyges thought experiment.

00:00 - Chapter 1. Introducing Plato and "The Republic"
11.39 - Chapter 2. Glaucon's Challenge
22:28 - Chapter 3: Batson on Moral Hypocrisy
40:17 - Chapter 4. Question and Answer

Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website: http://oyc.yale.edu

This course was recorded in Spring 2011.

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