Short Paper #1 – Aristotle v. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. and Aristotle find common ground in the idea of a distinction between just and unjust laws; however, Aristotle finds distinction in society’s understanding of the purpose of the law through extensive reasoning, while Martin Luther King, Jr. defines a just law as a law based on social mores and the “Law of God”.
Martin Luther King, Jr. claims distinction between just and unjust laws on moral responsibility or the “Law of God”. Dr. King deems a law unjust if it is “out of harmony with the moral law” (King, Jr, 4). Aristotle’s distinction relies on reasoning by surveying different forms of government and theory and recommending his own theory after his observations. Democracy includes participation of people “who [are] eligible to participate in deliberative and judicial office”, and names them “citizens,” concluding that democracy is directly defined by the significant amount of society that takes part in its endeavors (Aristotle). Aristotle bases his idea of just and unjust law on society’s understanding of why the law exists. Ideal democracy, as we discussed in class, consists of citizens in a society being almost completely informed, educated, and involved in politics and the lawmaking process. As also stated, Democracy can pose a problem to leaders, since the public is knowledgeable. The ignorant are easier to manipulate and hide unjust law from, like in Martin Luther King, Jr’s current segregated society. Martin Luther King Jr.’s argument does not share common ground with Aristotle’s because Dr. King was not arguing for a more informed public, but rather laws that followed straighter social mores. Since American government in the south relied on a special set of social mores and unjust laws that played on the ignorance and lack of education of the blacks at the time, Martin Luther King, Jr. rested much of his distinction in the “law of God,” since it is the only justification...
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