While awaiting his execution in prison, Socrates was confronted by his friend Crito, and given an opportunity to escape. Crito offered a multitude of reasons to support his proposal, however Socrates refused to leave on the basis of four premises: - One must never do wrong, even in return for wrong. - It is wrong to break a just agreement. - The agreement between the laws of Athens and its citizens is just because all citizens are allowed two alternatives to obeying the laws. - Leaving would constitute breaking the agreement. Supported my these four premises, Socrates claimed that escaping from prison would be morally wrong.
In this essay I will analyze Socrates argument and, in the absence of flaws, prove that his decision was morally correct. Although premises two and four are self supporting and not debatable, Socrates first and third claims can be challenged in many ways. I will discuss, dissect and disprove such objections. I his conversation with Crito, Socrates stated that One should never do wrong in return, nor injure any man, whatever injury one has suffered at his hands. (49, d). This is clearly true, however it can be argued that, due to his innocence, Socrates escape would not constitute a wrong doing and therefore not contradict his statement.
To determine whether or not Socrates innocence would allow him break the law without doing wrong, one must understand the function and significance of Athens laws. The law is designed to maintain order within the city, a feature that Athens was famous for. As Socrates says as he speaks on behalf of his city: ... do you think it possible for a city not to be destroyed if the verdicts of its courts have no force but are nullified by private individuals. (50, b).
By this rational, Socrates escape would harm both the laws and the city that they support and therefore be morally wrong. Furthermore, Socrates was offered a opportunity to leave the city rather than argue for his freedom in court of law. Socrates rejected this opportunity and agreed to put his fate in the hands of an Athenian jury. This brings us to the question of whether or not Socrates agreement to live under and by the laws of Athens was just. This city of Athens leaves its citizens three options regarding their interaction with the laws. Citizens are allowed to either obey the laws, leave the city, or challenge the laws and appeal to city officials in an attempt to amend the law.
According to Socrates claim in The Apology Athens city officials are corrupt, and it is debatable that Athens does not truly offer its citizens the option of challenging the laws and therefore, its agreement with Socrates was unjust. This claim does hold merit, however it does not apply to Socrates situation. Socrates was charged with not believing in the Greek gods and corrupting the youth yet, when given the chance to argue his case in court, the question at hand was not whether or not the laws that he was accused of breaking were valid, but rather, whether or not the charges placed against him were valid. In addition to this, Socrates had never opposed these law nor attempted to amend them, therefore the corruption of Athens lawmakers or law-changers is irrelevant to Socrates case. I have given proof that breaking out of prison would have negative consequences towards Athens and all of its citizens. I have also shown evidence that Socrates agreement with Athens was both just and voluntary.
Based on this, it is only logical to conclude that Socrates premises were valid and unquestionable, therefore, by refusing Crito s offer, Socrates made the morally corr.