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Philosophy in action

Armed with their laptops, the police department in Baltimore, Maryland has been utilizing them as part of the training that involves the philosopher Plato and his many teaching as part of their annual training. Some may consider this approach unconventional, but in actuality, it has been proven over the years and incorporated by many departments nationwide over the last few decades as it has been proven to aid cities. Gillespie is an instructor that encourages his students to dissect cases by applying Plato’s tripartite model in regards to police misconduct, which theorizes that behavior is controlled in part by the appetite, the spirit, or the intellect.


For those that are not aware, philosophy applies to everything, even cooking, with studies indicating that officers with more education are less likely to use deadly force. Philosophy offers more than that, however, and the following are some books that are suggested for any policeman’s reading list.


Søren Kierkegaard – Fear & Trembling

Søren Kierkegaard statue

Policemen searching to understand the manta behind ‘just following orders’ should read this book as the author illustrates the ramifications of sacrifice, using the story of Abraham and his son as a learning tool. In the book, Kierkegaard shows how Abraham questions obeying God absolutely and if the same should be done by police officers to police chiefs.


Aristotle – The Nicomachean Ethics


Of course, having laws are good, but sometimes being a good judge of character means following them and having the foresight to interpret fairly. Good police officers should utilize practical wisdom and this novel goes a long way in helping them develop it.


Onora O’Neill – A Question of Trust

Onora O’Neill with umbrella

In the United Kingdom, the principle to police by consent is practice and O’Neill argues that transparency, audits, and procedures can only achieve so much. In order to earn trust, police officers should be trustworthy.


Nietzsche – On the Genealogy of Morals


We don’t need police officers that consider themselves superheroes as this leads to police officers abusing power when they believe they are the divide between the forces of good and the forces of evil.


Confucius – The Analects


Police officers should read up on many various forms of philosophy for a more inclusive approach, which entails more than knowing everything about western theories. Police can get greater awareness than the majority of academic philosophers when it comes to cultural diversity as they are more likely to interact with a society that encompasses all ethnicities, creeds, and nationalities.


In The Analects by Confucius, readers are reminded that all cultures have core values that may be distinctly different from one another, but that the use of force should always be the last resort when it comes to enforcing the law. In the novel, Confucius says that civil suits are easy to execute, but it is even wiser to avoid all types of suits and solve problems on a more interpersonal level. The application of these theories can only help police officers become better at their job and more open to solving problems in a more humane manner.

Why we should all study philosophy

World Philosophy Day is November 16th and although many think it is specifically for students of law, it is important to tell others how philosophy can make people better students and better in general at life.


What is Philosophy?

meaning of philosopy

Coming from the Greek words for ‘love of wisdom’, philosophy uses tools of reason and logic to analyze the many ways that humans experience life and the world. Philosophy teaches close reading, critical thinking, logical analysis, and clear writing – it utilizes these to understand language and how we describe the universe and our specific place in it. Are our senses describing reality accurately? How are wrong actions classified as wrong? How should people live? These are all questions that can be categorized as philosophical, and it teaches the various ways that we answer them.


If you have ever attended university, you have probably come across some variants of philosophy that have been disguised as a scientific method for certain psychology experiments. It may be a bit more obvious with law courses, but you can also find concepts of philosophy covered in a slew of subjects, including medicine, teaching, business, STEM subjects, and more. But most people are not aware that philosophy can boost university results. The following are the ways how:


It can help construct arguments that are logical.

The logical structure is one thing that philosophy will most definitely teach you. The ability to discuss concepts that are heavier ensures that audiences remain in sync. Having a philosophical basis will enable you to define terms and line up arguments in a logical sequence.

Considering STEM-types, a philosophical foundation can allow you to structure arguments when attempting to prove or disprove something, or even guess what could occur next.


It’s Perfect for Essays

essay outline


Once you learn the fine art of structuring arguments, you will be better able to earn top marks on essays and draft some great exam notes. Apply logical theory to identify potential flaws in arguments before you submit in essay form. Once you are able to see your own mistakes, you can save yourself from a lot of problems down the road. The most elementary aspect of philosophy is the question of why, which you should be asking yourself repeatedly before constructing an essay. Why are you doing something this way instead of another? Why should you argue a position a certain way? What is the historical context of what is happening? Asking these questions to yourself enables you to draw better conclusions for your assignments.


It Will Help Shapes Your Ideas of the World


Law students are constantly searching for the cause and effect of everything, always talking about the floodgate principle. But what they are truly searching for are the consequences that affect the real world. This reasoning can be applied to STEM, psychology, and loads of areas. So there is obviously no time like the present to get yourself acquainted with the basics of philosophy. It is certainly not as boring as many think.