Socrates Argument in the Crito Essay

Socrates Argument in the Crito Essay

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Socrates argues in the Crito that he shouldn't escape his death sentence because it isn't just. Crito is distressed by Socrates reasoning and wishes to convince him to escape since Crito and friends can provide the ransom the warden demands. If not for himself, Socrates should escape for the sake of his friends, sons, and those who benefit from his teaching. Socrates and Crito's argument proceeds from this point.
As an aside, I would like to note that, though I believe that a further objection could be made to Socrates conclusions in “The Philosopher's Defense”, due to space considerations, I didn't write the fourth section “Failure of the Philosopher's Defense”.
I.Explanation of the Philospher's Argument
Socrates' response to Crito's question “Why don't you escape if I'll provide you the means?” is that the primary criterion for moral action is justice, and escaping would be unjust, so he should not escape. Socrates reasons that if he were to escape, this would break the system of law enforcement since avoiding punishment when a city has deemed it necessary makes the law ineffectual if there is no consequence for breaking it. He would be a 'destroyer' of the law (Crito, 51a), an injustice he does not wish to commit.
II.Objection to the Philosopher's Argument
Socrates concern that breaking the law would make law ineffectual is a valid one, but Crito would argue a more global perspective on Socrates' escaping: what are the net effects of Socrates accepting his death sentence? It would be a misfortune for all his friends, any people that benefit from his teaching, and he would be leaving his sons prematurely (Crito, 44c). Though Crito doesn't develop this point further, it could be easily extended: no one “be...

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... Socrates reaches a conclusion that defies a common-sense understanding of justice. Nothing about his death sentence “seems” just, but after further consideration, we find that his escape would be as fruitless as his death, and that in some sense, Socrates owes his obedience to whatever orders Athens gives him since he has benefited from his citizenship.
Despite these convincing arguments, he does make a few points that don't hold water, such as that he would destroy the law if he were to escape – this is an exaggerated claim that invites refutation. Also, though his escape would be in general fruitless to himself and his comrades, further argument might contend that citizens of other cities would benefit from his teaching, and act as a civilizing force. However, due to space considerations of this essay, I didn't write a fourth section.

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