Ethics and Law: Descartes’s Rationalism

Relationship between morals, ethics, and laws

Jurisprudence is the philosophy considering the relationship between morals, ethics, and laws. In the regulation of public relations, the law interacts with morality and ethics (Wendel, 2014). Every law case requires not only the comprehensive analysis of the situation but also the identification of the relationship between the law and principles and norms of the society’s morality. The application of the law requires the penetration into the moral assessment of the particular legal case.

For instance, the Second Amendment to the US Constitution guarantees the right of citizens to keep and bear arms according to the current social norms. Although, it is limited to felony and mentally ill persons (Smith, Becker, Nagourney, & Steinhauer, 2011). The creators of the Constitution of the United States believed that bearing weapons is necessary for the protection of personal security, personal liberty, and private property. Armed men can protect themselves and their neighbors from crime and their rights from tyranny. It is the essence of that issue. Nowadays the dispute over the Second Amendment remains tense and highly politicized because stakes are too high. On the one hand, Americans suffer from a high level of armed crime, a situation which is believed by plenty of them caused or aggravated by easy access to firearms. On the other hand, there is an impressive number of historical evidence and a growing number of scientific comments pointing to the fact that the right to have and bear arms is the private right of a person, therefore, is perfectly moral. In my point of view, the second opinion is the most in line with the Constitution as it secures an individual right to own. Seeing that the right to bear arms is directly stated in the Constitution as well as the fact that it has long been rooted in America, I believe that the issue is legal and moral.

Descartes’s rationalism

Descartes was the founder of rationalism and the author of the phrase “challenge everything”. The philosopher believed that people should rely not on faith, but reliable conclusions and take nothing as the ultimate truth (Cottingham, 2011). Descartes’ views are relevant nowadays as well. Rationalism today is understood as the confidence in the power of reason and the ability to grasp the mysteries of nature and learn about the world and the human using common sense to solve the practical problems of life and ultimately build a society on a reasonable basis (Ward, 2013). Descartes sought to build scientific knowledge systematically, and it is possible only if it is erected on the obvious reliability of allegations (Hunt, 2007). The statement of Descartes “I think, therefore, I exist” (Cogito, ergo sum) is still applied in plenty of fields. For example, in modern psychology: “Being a product of modern dualistic culture, they tend to feel skeptical about non-biological explanations for their illnesses, as they appear unreal, illegitimate and unscientific in nature” (Mehta, 2011). It demonstrates that people can doubt everything except thinking.

The very manner of posing questions concerning cognition, in particular, the need to limit a substantiation of philosophical knowledge about the basic features and functions of mental phenomena, the relationship between mind and body, spirit and matter, and the role of the method in the philosophical and scientific knowledge continue to be the starting point for the formulation and solution of many psychological issues.


Cottingham, J. (2011). Descartes. New York, NY: Phoenix.

Hunt, M. M. (2007). The story of psychology. New York, NY: Anchor Books.

Mehta, N. (2011). Mind-body dualism: A critique from a health perspective. Mens Sana Monographs, 9(1), 202-209.

Smith, P., Becker, J., Lou, M., Nagourney, A.,& Steinhauer, J. (2011). Warning Shots. New York Times Upfront, 143(10), 6-9.

Ward, J. (2013). Psychological principles. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Wendel, W. B. (2014). Ethics and law: An Introduction. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.