Socrates, Socrates And The Right Decision Essay

Socrates, Socrates And The Right Decision Essay

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In Plato’s Crito, Socrates’s commitment to virtue is illustrated. Socrates is imprisoned and has been sentenced to death. Socrates will most likely be put to death the next day. One of Socrates’ friends and supporters, Crito, comes in and tells Socrates that he has paid off the guard and that they must move quickly and escape. Socrates says it would be unjust for him to escape, as Crito pleads for him to leave. Socrates acts according to his definition of virtue when ignoring Crito’s reasonings, and therefore is acting virtuously in his insistence on staying.
Socrates believes that virtue is the ability to know justice from injustice. In his belief, people act unjustly because they are ignorant of the right decision. Socrates believes people are able to discern injustice from justice, because when one does injustice it hurts their soul and when one does justice it benefits their soul. This thought can be shown in the simple scenario of littering. If one sees something lying on the ground and thinks that maybe they should pick it up, but walks past it, often times they turn around, out of guilt. If they don’t, sometimes they feel guilty about it later. However, not all scenarios are as black as white as this one. Sometimes, it is harder to discern the virtuous action. The socratic method of questioning can be used to chip away at a situation through questioning until the just action is found. This method is used between Crito and Socrates. Socrates’s decision to remain in Prison is justified in the debate that follows between Crito and Socrates.
Crito’s first claim as to why it would be just to escape, is that if Socrates does not escape, it would reflect poorly on his friends. It would look like they were cheap, and that money...

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... jail would actually help the City of Athens, not undermine it, because he would be able to train more youth to virtue.
I do believe that Socrates acted according to his definition of virtue. However, I believe his definition of virtue allows for some subjective reasoning. People can arrive at different decisions about what is the right thing to do, even after taking into account all knowledge available to them. Socrates assumes that every person, with the same knowledge, will arrive at the same answer. Which is not always true. So, If these people act in the way that assures they will not feel guilty, then they are acting virtuously, according to Socrates definition of virtue. Therefore, Socrates is right for deciding to stay, because he did what he believed was right. However, there is no definitive right or wrong in the situation, just following one’s convictions.

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