Socrates Arguments Crito

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Ryan Horler

What arguments are presented in the Crito for the conclusion that Socrates would be acting unjustly if he escaped from prison and evaded his sentence? Do you find them convincing?

The Platonic 'Death of Socrates Dialogues', are a quartet of important and influential conversations written by Plato, but told through the eyes of his mentor Socrates. Written in 386BC, they tell the story surrounding the Socrates being charged by the state for piety and corruption of the youth. They are conversations between Socrates, his friends, and his censors, the rulers of Athens. Socrates has found guilty of these crimes and after failing to convince the Athenian statesmen that he had been wrongfully accused, and sentenced to death. The third story from the quartet is 'Crito' where Socrates chats with his wealthy friend Crito, who after bribing a guard, offers to help Socrates escape his sentence. Socrates refuses, and the dialogue throws up a few moral arguments where he explains his reasons to Crito,

Socrates argues that it is necessary for the state to punish him as he has not acted within the laws

that govern Athens. After all, he has faced the serious charge of worshipping false gods, and by

passing these views on to his young followers, further charge with corrupting them. As he is a

highly respected citizen within Athens, he thinks that he should lead by example and take his

punishment. After all, he knew the laws and more than likely and knew what punishment he would

incur if caught. No one is above the law. The laws are set by the state in order for citizens to follow

a code of behaviour. Failure to adhere to such laws could lead to destruction of the state and it is

right that the government made and example of him. He thinks that if laws are broken, then the

ruling class should have the powers to deal with the lawbreakers, otherwise what is the point having

the laws, or indeed the state who police the laws in place.

He also argued that he has been privileged to be part of the state of Athens and had received all the

benefits that come with being a citizen of such an institution. Although the benefits are available to

all Athenians, on the premise that you obey its laws. The state that had been so good to him over his

71 years of life, and the laws there provided him and his family with sanctuary. The state provided

security for his parents to marry and to bring him up safely. The state also provided him with the

education of which made him the man he was. He was using this education against the state by

teaching youths to think differently about the gods that the Athenians worshipped. He uses the

analogy that the relationship between he, or indeed anyone else and the state of Athens was like that

of parent and child. Children should obey their parents, therefore citizens should obey the state. By

escaping prison, this would not be obeying the state so he chooses to stay put. He argues that the

state is in fact more important than parents or ancestors, because it is the state that enables its

citizens to nurture. This argument is probably not very sound. To say that parents are similar to the

state is not accurate. You are born to parents and are expected to comply with state procedure while

living there. Occasionally within family life, there can be systematic physical abuse from parents

which often goes unreported. Generally you do not get physically abused by the state, unless of

course you are unlucky to live in somewhere that shy away from democracy. By being born into a

family, rules are not set as stone, and as a child you are expected in a way not always to act to these

rules. Usually there is more leniency within the family when it comes to rule breaking than if you

break a state law.

He also argues that anyone born into the state and benefiting from the laws of the state...
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