PHL200Y1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Meletus
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Monday, September 28, 2015
Plato’s Crito (IRAGRP, 78-85) Transcribed
(Sample Test Question) What are the two most important responses the Laws gives to Socrates in the dialogue?
(Sample Test Question) What is the definition of pacifism, and whether what Socrates is doing is pacifist or not?
At the end of the trial, Socrates is convicted by a small vote. Socrates is convicted of (1)
corrupting the young mind, (2) not acknowledging the gods, and (3) making the weaker argument, the
stronger one. The jurors sentence him to death by self-poison. This dialogue captures Socrates in Prison.
The context of this discussion is that from what we can tell is that people from Athens were embarrassed by
this sentence – no body thought he deserved the capital punishment. Many hoped this would go away and
there were people who were prospered to bribe the officials to let Socrates escape and they would be
relieved to not execute this 70 year old man.
One of Socrates friends comes to see Socrates in prison and urges Socrates to escape with his help.
In this dialogue, Crito presents number of reasons to why he should escape, and then Socrates replies and
imagines what the Laws of Athens would say if he had escaped. In conclusion, Socrates agrees with the
Laws of Athens and does not agree with Crito, so he does not escape.
Plato’s Crito – in-depth
• Crito makes a number of arguments for why Socrates should escape:
i. If you don’t escape, you’re going to leave your wife and children with orphan,
ii. If you don’t escape, we (your friends) will be blamed because we did not help you,
iii. If you don’t escape, you are going to let injustice win – you do not need to give into
injustice (injustice consisting of being executed).
• Socrates, in response he says two things;
i. We are not going to maintain that the truth is determined by majority vote. It isn’t right
because the majority says it is, and even if it right, there is no reason for you to be
executed – you’re not a murderer. We are not going to do it because the majority says it is
! This is important because this is the foundation of democracy – for example, we
have the Charter of Rights and Freedom to determine what is permissible and
impermissible – even if the majority thinks it is okay, it is not okay if it violates
the rights of the minority.
! But, who determines what rights are viral and immune to deprivations of the
majority? Nothing is right or wrong just because the majority says it is. If you
determine what you think is right and the majority is agrees, than this is an easy
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