Plato, at the beginning of The Republic, raises a fascinating question: If we had every assurance we could never get caught and punished, would we be foolish to continue to obey ethical rules? The answer to this question suggests a reason why people can obtain their wants while minimizing their fear of threat and harm by forming a social contract.
In this, the final section of our readings, we look at the some of social implications of ethics. Certainly the ethical good of the individual is bound to the ethical good of the community; hence, human beings as social animals must be related in ethical ways to the societies in which they live.
Our study, as many philosophical inquiries before it, tends to raise more questions than it answers. Nevertheless, we conclude with William James' positive, pragmatic assessment of what makes a life significant.