Morality in Politics

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Political Science 348
Philosophical Essay
March 11, 2013

People are forced to face moral challenges in making day-to-day decisions. When it comes to benefitting individual and societal good, the great question of politics is raised: what is the right thing to do? In Sophocles’ Antigone, there is a dilemma whether to abide by the laws of the gods above the laws of the state. Antigone makes a decision that not only affects her future but the future of the state under her uncle’s rule. Antigone gains a high moral sense in that she followed the laws of the gods and therefore did the morally right choice going against state laws, either case can be deemed as morally correct. In this essay it will be argued that citizens should be free to disobey state laws when conscience dictates.

Sophocles’ play enacts the moral conflict of power between the laws of the gods and the laws of state. He presents the reader with a dilemma involving religious rituals passed down in the family and a new law passed by a ruler of the state. Antigone and her uncle, Creon, have a different set of values. Creon, the ruler of Thebes, values the constant order of the state and the public good. Antigone values family and religion, and views these commitments as superior to the laws imposed by her uncle. She claims, there is an “unchangeable unwritten code of Heaven,” (Sophocles, Antigone, 17) and she decides to act against the laws of her uncle to fulfill the laws of the gods, by giving her brother a proper burial ritual against Creon’s will. Antigone considers her uncle’s laws as sacrilege. Creon thought that his decision would bring stability to his state, as he claimed that “by corruption few men thrive and many come to mischief,” (Sophocles, Antigone, 12). Creon places the ‘polis’ above family and religious values and disregards the values that Antigone holds sacred. Sophocles positions Antigone as being the heroine of the play and allows her to justify her decisions, with the taking...
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