He also criticizes the use of execution to punish theft, saying thieves might as well murder whom they rob, to remove witnesses, if the punishment is going to be the same

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: lawrence@krubner.com

It is interesting, if a bit sad, to realize how common it is for some intellectuals to speak out against the injustices of the age, while having no power to stop those injustices. The injustices continue for another several centuries. This was written in 1516:

The first discussions with Raphael allow him to discuss some of the modern ills affecting Europe such as the tendency of kings to start wars and the subsequent loss of money on fruitless endeavours. He also criticises the use of execution to punish theft, saying thieves might as well murder whom they rob, to remove witnesses, if the punishment is going to be the same. He lays most of the problems of theft on the practice of enclosure—the enclosing of common land—and the subsequent poverty and starvation of people who are denied access to land because of sheep farming.

Given that Moore served Henry VIII and was later executed for his service, I have to wonder if his belief in pragmatism was justified:

More tries to convince Raphael that he could find a good job in a royal court, advising monarchs, but Raphael says that his views are too radical and wouldn’t be listened to. Raphael sees himself in the tradition of Plato: he knows that for good governance, kings must act philosophically. He, however, points out that:

“ Plato doubtless did well foresee, unless kings themselves would apply their minds to the study of philosophy, that else they would never thoroughly allow the council of philosophers, being themselves before, even from their tender age, infected and corrupt with perverse and evil opinions. ”

More seems to contemplate the duty of philosophers to work around and in real situations and, for the sake of political expediency, work within flawed systems to make them better, rather than hoping to start again from first principles.

“ … for in courts they will not bear with a man’s holding his peace or conniving at what others do: a man must barefacedly approve of the worst counsels and consent to the blackest designs, so that he would pass for a spy, or, possibly, for a traitor, that did but coldly approve of such wicked practices

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