3 Service Encounter
W: Hi, I’m Elaine. I made an appointment to speak with a Financial Aid Counselor.
M: Hi, Elaine. I’m Frank. Why don’t you take a seat and we can talk?
W: Thanks so much. Well, the reason I’m here is because I’m having trouble paying for school. I don’t necessarily have a problem with my financial aid package … as far as I can tell, it’s pretty fair according to the information I was sent. It’s mostly just that some new expenses cropped up, and I have no idea how I’m going to pay for them?
M: OK, well, you’re right. At least in terms of what we’ve got on file about your situation. Do you mind if ! ask What expenses you’re having to deal with now?
W: It’s just one thing actually, but it’s huge. See, my laptop got stolen. I know I can use the library computers, but I’m sure you understand what an inconvenience that is, especially since the library closes at midnight. Although I would love for it to be the case, I’m rarely done by midnight. It doesn’t work that way for computer science majors.
M: Of course. There’s a reason why the university encourages all students to have a personal computer. The libraries are there for convenience, but with everything running off the campus server now, it’s pretty unfeasible to ask students to perform without a computer of their own. The good part is that there’s actually a program we have to help students buy a computer. The first thing I want to ask you is how you bought your old laptop.
W: Oh, that thing. My older sister gave it to me when she graduated from college. It was, like, seven years old.
M: Good, because the program only applies for the purchase of one computer.
W: Oh, OK, so I qualify, then. Can you tell me more?
M: Well, basically, it’s a loan, but you don’t have to start paying it back until you graduate. Also, the university has a partnership with Babbage Computers, so our students get a really good discount.
W: That’s awesome! Really, that’s exactly what I need. So, how do I sign up for this?
M: The first step is to order the computer. You go to the company’s website, it’s www.babbage.com. You pick out the computer you want and when it asks you to pay, you enter the school name. That’s going to give you the discounted price. Since you need the loan to pay for it, you have to print out the page that has the price and submit it, along with a completed Computer Purchase Program form, here, at the Office of Financial Ad.
W: That sounds kind of complicated. You wouldn’t happen to have a detailed Instruction sheet or something? I just don’t want to forget any steps. I need to get a replacement as soon as possible.
M: Of course, all the information is in this packet, along with the Computer Purchase Program form.
W: You’ve been such a great help. Thanks!
M: I don’t think there’s any way we can study ethics and not discuss Socrates and his very famous student Plato. You all are probably at least minimally familiar with their philosophies, whether you know it or not. The truth is that these, uh, these two ancient Greek philosophers posed so many important questions that are still discussed today, even outside of the philosophical realm. So anyway, what I want to do today is kind of put Socrates and Plato side by side and talk about which points they agreed upon and where their philosophies diverged. Do you all know what the Socratic Method is? Yeah, Mary, go ahead.
W: The Socratic Method is a form of inquiry, um, questioning that Socrates is famous for using. I mean, I guess he would ask his opponents a series of questions, and in the course of the conversation, expose the problems with their claims.
M: That’s right. Now, the reason that I bring up the Socratic Method is to show how he put his views about ethics on the table for discussion and criticism. If you read the materials I passed out during the last session, you know that Socrates talks about virtue a lot. And when Socrates talks about virtue, what exactly is he referring to? It’s goodness, it’s moral excellence, it’s… well, it’s ethics. Anyway, according to Socrates, virtue was something that could be known, and if someone truly knew what virtue was, it would stand up to the Socratic Method. More importantly, by knowing virtue, one becomes virtuous. Do you all understand so far?
W: Um, I’m a little confused. I don’t really understand what you mean when you talk about knowing virtue?
M: All right, think back to the emphasis that Socrates placed on educating oneself as the road to enlightenment. At the very beginning of the road is ignorance, and remember that he thought that ignorance of virtue in particular was why people did bad things. At the end of that road is goodness, and virtue is closety tied to that. But really, the thing to focus on here is the idea that by being aware of what virtue is, one is virtuous. This is really the part that applies to ethics, because ethics is essentially the study of what is right and wrong, and why people behave the way they do in relation to the ideas of right and wrong.
His take on it seems simplistic to modern readers, especially because his philosophy lacks the element of self-interest. The reason I mention that is because self-interest is a huge part of the way modern philosophy deals with ethics; that is, many modem philosophers acknowledge that the reason people do bad things is not because they are mistaken or don’t know what it is to be good. Rather, at least some part of their bad behavior is caused by the desire to benefit themselves somehow. But like I said, the notion of self-interest wasn’t really treated in Ancient Greece. That’s one of the things that Socrates and Plato had in common.
With that said, why don’t we talk about Ratos take on ethics? Let’s see, well, as a student of Socrates, Plato was obviously influenced a lot by him. In fact, most of his work was written as dialogues between Socrates and his opponents, so in that way, he kind of carried on the tradition of the Socratic Method. But I think you’ll see that Plato’s ideas about ethics were a little more fleshed out than those of Socrates. Plato thought that goodness was an objective form, meaning that it was a more general thing that remained the same even in different cultures or situations. Any questions?
W: How do Plato’s ideas about there being some sort of universal form of goodness explain why someone should choose to be good, though?
M: Well, you have to go a little further than that. In really simple terms, Plato thought that if a person acted justly, their soul would be balanced and bring the person great happiness. So, to answer your question, the motivation to be good and just is to be happy.