Ethics: Study 2 (Aristotle)
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
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 benefitting
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.
Socrates’ method of philosophizing was:
Dialogue, communication, talking, People had more pressure in conversation than readers
do. They were easily exposed.
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 Socrates’ reputation.
2. The case and the charges against him they wouldn’t have charged him without
knowing about his reputation. 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.
Socrates’ attitude toward public service and the two stories he tells about his own limited
involvement in public affairs:
Socrates’ attitude toward occupying an official public position is that occupying an
official , public position is basically incompatible with searching for moral
knowledge and living a virtuous life.
He says he has a spiritual sign that turns him away from doing things. Every time he has
attempted or thought about entering public service, this sign or voice tells him not
to. It does not encourage him to do things only not to do things.
He once served as a member of Council. They wanted to try 10 generals in one trail, but
this was illegal. He stood up against it, and people said he was promoting what
the generals did.
When Athens was under dictatorship, he was ordered to put someone to death, but he just
went home instead, because he did not see it as right nor did he see them as the
Socrates’ discussion of death and his attitude toward death:
He cannot fear something he knows nothing of.
What he thinks death might be like:
Either nothingness or relocation of the soul: either way he saw it as a blessing.
Socrates’ attitude toward the law in Crito:
There is no reason to ever break it, even to undo injustice.
Socrates’ theory of values:
Two sorts of goods: virtue and happiness and their relationship to one another.
Socrates’ “familiar prophetic power” his “familiar signs”:
Held him back from doing things, but never told him to do things.
The oracle was an institution. A physical place, a temple, a shrine, person and her staff
priestess communicated with gods and other magical powers. Messages were
obscure and puzzling like riddles.
He claimed to be a part of Greek religion because of his belief in the oracle.
His reason for philosophizing:
A search for someone wiser than he; as service to the god.
Guilty. 280 to 251.
Socrates’ reaction to the verdict:
He is impressed by the verdict, but said if he had more time he could have been more
persuasive. He says the punishment should be one he deserves. He doesn’t want to
spend the rest of his life in prison. He suggests a fine, but he has no money, so he
would spend time in jail. He suggests exile, but he does not want that. He thinks if
he went somewhere else, he would just get kicked out of there. He says 2 yr jail,
fine, and public service would be more moderate. He didn