Orwell and Socrates paper

Orwell and Socrates paper - Cason 1 Andrew Cason Professor...

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Cason 1 Andrew Cason Professor Gordon English 123 5 October 2007 Elephants and Ethics In “Shooting an Elephant,” by George Orwell, Orwell is faced with an ethical dilemma. He, a British police officer stationed in Burma, is called to the scene of an elephant going rampant in heat in a nearby village. The elephant had “destroyed somebody’s bamboo hut, killed a cow and raided some fruit-stalls and devoured the stock… (also it) had turned (a) van over and inflicted violence upon it” (Orwell 897) When he arrives, Orwell finds a man trampled by the elephant and later on the elephant: who was grazing in the rice panties outside of town. While Orwell was walking into the panties with the large elephant gun in his hands (for his protection), many of the villagers fallowed, hoping that he would kill the elephant so as they could help themselves to the meat (Orwell 898). Orwell now feels an overwhelming sense of pressure from this mob of Burmese fallowing him. He says, “I could feel their two thousand wills pressing me forward, irresistibly” (Orwell 899). To Orwell the elephant looked perfectly tame and he did not what to shoot it, stating: “It seemed to me that it would be murder to shoot him” (Orwell 899). Here is the dilemma; should Orwell shoot the elephant? In one hand he has a fear of being ridiculed and insulted by the Burmese, who constantly make his job unbearable, and also he has a legal right to kill the elephant because it had killed a man. And in the other hand, Orwell has his moral conscience which tells him that shooting an
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Cason 2 elephant that is apparently tame and calm would be morally wrong and not practical since an elephant is like a heavy piece of machinery and is worth much more when alive. So here is the important question: W.W.S.D. - What Would Socrates Do: Socrates being our expert in this moral quandary. But the answer is not clear. Let’s look at his framework of his arguments in Plato’s “Crito.” Obviously, Socrates has one ultimate goal in mind: to always know what is good and do what is good. Socrates states that by reason and logic one can find the right course of action and those skilled in the ways of deduction and judgment are authorities on ethical matters and that their conclusions should be valued above the opinions of the masses. Socrates pronounced, “…one should regard the good (opinions) and not the bad…the opinions of the wise being good, and the opinions of the foolish being bad” (Plato 886). Socrates also states that obedience to civil
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Orwell and Socrates paper - Cason 1 Andrew Cason Professor...

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