Ethics: Study Sheet 1
Socrates’ method of philosophizing was:
Dialogue, communication, talking, People had more pressure in conversation than
readers do. They were easily exposed.
Euthyphro who was he? What is he doing?
An expert in religion, he was a high priest. He was prosecuting his father for
killing the man who killed a man.
Euthyphro’s seven definitions of piety:
1. Pious is to do what he is doing (prosecuting his father).
2. Pious is what is dear to the gods.
3. Pious is something ALL of the gods love.
4. Pious is concerned with the care of the gods.
5. Piety is service to the gods.
6. Piety is the religious rituals (prayer and sacrifices are pious actions). Piety is
the knowledge of how to pray and offer sacrifice.
7. Piety is pleasing the gods.
Socrates’ criticism of those definitions:
1. This is an example, not a definition.
2. The gods are always in discord, having different likes/dislikes. Something
could be both pious and impious.
3. Something is pious because it is loved or loved because it is pious? It’s an
action by the gods, not a definition.
4. To care is to improve. The gods do not need improving, nor should anyone try
to improve them.
5. To serve is to help accomplish. The gods do not need help accomplishing
6. A trading service with the gods (going through religious motions).
7. What is benefitting them and what is dear to them? They do not need
Six typical logical/rhetorical distinctions and strategies that Socrates uses in dialogue:
1. Distinguish between opposites. If you know what x is you must know the
opposite of x.
2. Distinguish between parts and wholes. Asks of something, what are its parts,
and what larger whole is it apart of?
3. Makes digressions in order to establish an analogy with the primary topic at
hand. Then returns to the primary topic.
4. Distinguish between the agent who performs an action and the action that is
performed (subject of the sentence vs. the verb).
5. Distinguish between the action performed and the object that the action is
directed onto (verb vs. object of the verb).
6. Examine the meanings of ordinary words, words which most people use but
never really think about. Disagreements about matters of fact vs. matters of value:
People don’t get emotional about a disagreement about a measurable thing. It’s a
matter of fact. Verses an argument that is based on values and beliefs, which
people get emotional about.
Socrates’ consistency as a person:
He says he will talk the same way in court as he would outside of the courts. He
says he has a deep sense of consistency, that he is the same person in public as he
is in private.
The meaning of the title Apology:
“Apolopia” – to defend and justify oneself; the part of the trial where the
defendant would defend himself.
Taught rhetoric and charged for their services, meaning only who could afford it
benefited from it.
Produced in 423 B.C. Socrates mentioned the character called Socrates. “a
Socrates swinging about there, saying that he was walking on air and talking a lot
of other nonsense about things of which I know nothing at all.”
Greek trial system (and how it differs from ours today):
1. civil cases only, no criminal cases.
2. They had no lawyers in court; only individuals represent themselves.
3. Large juries 501 in the case of Socrates’ trial.
4. Court cases lasted one day.
5. Counter assessment phase of the trial, in which a convicted person gets to
propose his own punishment.
The two sets of “accusers” and the linkage between these two levels of accusations:
1. Several generations had spread rumors and slander against him that he was
dangerous or a threat to the society. Because of this, he has a negative
reputation. People who were in there 40s had grown up hearing about
2. The case and the charges against him they wouldn’t have charged him
without knowing about his reputation.
Anaxagoras, and Socrates’ attitude toward astronomy, natural science, etc.:
He claimed that the universe was directed by Nous (Mind) and that matter was
indestructible but always combining in various ways. He taught nature was
inhibited by spiritual forces (a spirit in the ocean that makes the waves, sun, etc.)
He denied the existence of gods and was put on trial and sent to exile. Socrates never had anything to do with natural sciences. Socrates said his teachings were
not as corrupting, and Anaxagoras’ teachings were available for purchase in print
for a small price. Anaxagoras was viewed as someone who threatened the
Socrates’ account of his life and reputation:
Though he has a bad reputation, he believes he is the gods gift to Athens. He
thinks he should have better treatment than the Olympians.
The specific charges in the deposition:
“Socrates is guilty of corrupting the young and of not believing in the gods whom