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Different people’s views on human nature lead to contrasting ideas of the purpose of government, whether that be caring if people are virtuous or not. Augustine calls for more government intervention, arguing that it will keep sinful people in line. Whereas, Aquinas believes the government should be in the interest of the common good, such as protecting life, preserving the state, and promoting peace, I will argue that the most important government’s purpose, apart from enforcing the law, is to make decisions that affect the common good of society. Therefore, the government ought to care about the ethical and moral implications of their decisions. Because the government has been given public trust, public officials must make decisions that promote virtue and human flourishing in order to protect society from leaders with evil intentions.

Virtue is the act of doing the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do. Because no one is naturally virtuous, it arises from habituation. Plato explains that justice is wisdom and virtue. He agrees that justice is a virtue of the soul, and the virtue of the soul means the health of the soul. Therefore, he concludes justice is desirable because it means the health of the soul. By being governed in accordance with virtue, the citizens can live a flourishing life and use their human capacities to their fullest. Furthermore, Aristotle agrees with this notion and says that living happily requires living a life of virtue. The government’s role exists for the sake of developing virtue in citizens. However, it is a shared pursuit of virtue that makes a society, not tyranny. The citizens of the government must also pursue a common good, and for Aristotle, that is to achieve this individual excellence and happiness.

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Injustice, specifically laziness and absorption, harms society. Cicero agrees that a good ruler is someone who does not seek his own advantage but the advantage of the people ruling over him. Specifically, Cicero is not opposed to democracy as long as people refrain from being greedy. Similarly, in Plato’s ‘Republic’, he explains that justice is the advantage of the superior. The people in charge do what they want for the benefit of themselves. This problem is evident in many businesses and organizations today. Beyond their own mission and bottom line, corporations work hard to succeed with deliberate blindness to the common good and society at large. If burdens such as taxes, regulation, and market restrictions can be turned to their benefit, businesses urge those changes and do not concern themselves with costs beyond their own. Because justice often finds itself at the hands of whatever the people in charge choose to do, the government’s purpose is to care about fostering a virtuous society.

In order to protect the people from selfish actions and injustice, there needs to be a balance of order of the soul and order of the state. The government’s ethical and moral role is instrumental in ensuring justice and order. In relation to businesses, the government should address the health of the whole society, not just the organization, and foster harmony among the people. Everything surrounding businesses, such as health, environment, culture, education, and more, takes a backseat when leaders consume resources for themselves. I am not arguing that the government should be anti-business. I believe they provide the means to live, innovate, recreate, and make our lives better. However, I think businesses do not have the world’s best interest at heart, and the government has the ability to rewrite that narrative. The law has to be moral on principle and prudence. Moreover, it must balance between excess and efficiency. This can be achieved if officials pass the laws with the care of people’s virtues in mind, and, as Aquinas believes, in the interest of all people. Ultimately, this will call for justice and hold people who break the law liable for punishment.

A society in which the government cares whether people are virtuous and flourishing embodies perfectionism. The government’s purpose is to regulate, look out for, and promote our physical and moral well-being. Overall, the government should help people become more virtuous. Augustine states, “Without justice what are kingdoms but great bands of robbers?“. In order for people to be in accord with the common good and not act selfishly, the government must administer ethical and moral laws that are in the best interest of the people and ensure adherence to them. By comparing the government to a band of robbers, he supports the argument for perfectionism. Although, ultimately, I believe that the peak of human flourishing goes beyond law, the government should aid in leading a virtuous and flourishing society.

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