By Sarah Clark Miller
Editor’s note: This column originally appeared on Penn State News through a partnership between the Rock Ethics Institute and Penn State Today. You are invited to ask a question by filling out and submitting this form. An archive of the columns can be found on the Rock Ethics Institute website.
Question: What can the power of invisibility teach us about the role of ethical leadership in contemporary democracy?
An ethicist responds: Caucus season is here. In picking the next president, how do we choose the best candidate? Common criteria include candidates’ takes on specific issues, their ability to serve as commander in chief, and how we imagine they would navigate delicate international imbroglios. It is telling that we are less likely to consult a crucial set of concerns regarding whether candidates would lead in a manner that is just, virtuous, and compassionate.
Enter one of the oldest philosophical thought experiments, Plato’s Ring of Gyges, a tale about a shepherd who finds a magic ring that grants him the power of invisibility when he turns the bezel toward his palm. Imagine the possibilities. If you found a ring of invisibility, how would you use it? For good? For evil? To promote justice? For personal gain? To play amusing pranks on unsuspecting colleagues? Continue reading Focus on research: Can Plato help us pick the next president?