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Individual vs. Majority

September 16, 2010
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Socrates seems to preach the idea of fulfilling the truth of one’s soul. That majority opinion cannot be correct or the right way to go, if it is not true. Of course, truth is subjective, and every person’s truth must be their own. However, when examining the American government system, and the way that American law sees majority opinion as important, we must consider the potential flaws in this system.

If a man is on trial for a crime he did not commit, and he is convicted, that is not justice. He initially is labeled innocent until proven guilty, but through some type of evidence, the jury may decide that he is guilty. Let’s pretend that in this situation, the person on trial is in fact innocent. Well, if an innocent man was just convicted and sentenced to prison as a result of the majority opinion of the jury, then how is that just? Socrates argues that in fact, that is not just because if the majority opinion is false, then it cannot be just. Therefore, a staple in deciding the fate of criminal trials within our society (the staple being a majority vote) is flawed.

In what way, however, can a society be orderly without a system of making difficult decisions? In American society, majority vote whether it be in congress, the judicial system or the courthouse, is the way that decisions are made. Without these majority votes and decisions, no changes would be made in society and no decisions would be made. Therefore, is a majority opinion, though often times untrue, the only way to be an effective country?

And furthermore, if the majority vote, whether true or not, is the only way to run a successful society, is it morally right to use majority opinion if it hurts someone else? For example, the court case. By sticking to majority opinion (because it is the most effective way to run society) we have ruined an innocent man’s life. Is this just? The bottom line that we have to think about is: is it more important to have success as a democracy at the expense of those who get lost in the cracks, or is it more important to act morally and make decisions per each individual solely based on truth?

One Comment
  1. yequan permalink
    September 16, 2010 11:41 PM

    It seems Socrates did not like democratic system, as he had stated that majority opinion was inconsequential. He laughed at majority that “they cannot make a man either wise or foolish, but they inflict things haphazardly”(45e). Socrates only thought good opinions from wise men were right and just. But how can we figure out if a man is wise or not? There is no standard rules to distinguish people. Majority vote seemed to be the only way to conduct justice, even it may have flaws. Though I do not agree what majority say is just, I deem that for now democracy may be the best option because it maximizes the satisfaction or happiness.

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