In this essay Plato is writing about Socrates who has been sentenced to death. Socrates is visited by his friend Crito who is trying to persuade Socrates to escape prison. Socrates says that he cannot escape unless doing so would be just and right. He says that ” I cannot abandon the arguments I used to make in times past just because this situation has arisen: They look the same to me as before, and I respect and honor them as much as ever. ” After saying this Socrates and Crito expand their discussion and Socrates tries to use reason to determine whether the action of escaping prison is right or wrong.
In the beginning of the conversation Crito explains “People who do not know you and me will believe that I might have saved you if I had been willing to give money, but that I did not care. Now can there be a worse disgrace than this – that I would be thought to value money more than the life of a friend? For the many will not be persuaded that I wanted you to escape and that you refused. ” Here Crito is trying to explain that he himself would be accused of not trying to help Socrates escape and of valuing money more than valuing his friend because no one will believe that Socrates would willingly face execution.
Crito here is arguing that people will see him as an egoist, because he would be doing what is in his own self interest. During this part of the conversation Crito also argues that Socrates’ actions are unjust because” No man should bring children into the world who is unwilling to persevere to the end in their nurture and education. ” He argues that Socrates will be abandoning the care of his children and they will be raised as orphans are and this would be unjust to his children.
This argument could be related to utilitarianism because Crito is talking about the consequences of the actions and which action would end in a greater moral consequence. In the next part of the conversation Socrates talks about how Crito’s arguments are of the people and that they should instead be considering the arguments of the just. He says ” Tell me, then, whether I am right in saying that some opinions, and the opinions of some men only, are to be valued, and that other opinions, and the opinions of other men, are not to e valued. ” Socrates goes on to further say ” In questions of just and unjust, fair and foul, good and evil, which are the subjects of our present consultation, ought we to follow the opinion of the many, and to fear them, or the opinion of the one man who has understanding?
Ought we not to fear and reverence him more than all the rest of the world, and, if we desert him, will we not ruin and mutilate that principle in us that is improved by justice and damaged by injustice? Socrates also follows that he must think about whether the body is to be harmed by following the rules of the many instead of the rules of the wise expert. I believe here he is also referring to the soul and is arguing that he cannot escape if doing so will damage his soul. To this argument Crito agrees that only the arguments experts of wise and just should be followed, not the arguments of the many and foolish. He also agrees that the body would deteriorate if instead of listening to the one wise expert, a person would instead listening to the many foolish people.
This part of the argument follows deontological arguments because it is judging the action of escaping upon whether or not it is right or not to do so… in other words it is judging the morality of the action based on the actions following of the moral rules of the society. In the next part of the discussion Socrates talks about the Laws of Athens and makes a distinction between the Laws of Athens and the accusers who used the laws to sentence him.
Socrates portrays a discussion with the Laws of Athens as if they were a person and was talking back to him. Socrates talks about what the Laws would say if he were indeed about to escape, stating the Laws would say ” Tell us, Socrates, what are you up to? Are you not, by an act of yours, going to destroy us – the laws and the whole state – as far as in you lies? Do you imagine that a state can subsist and not be overthrown in which the decision of law have no power but are set aside and trampled upon by individuals? Socrates also points out that the Laws would remind him of his earlier agreement to abide by whatever judgments that the state should make with these laws, and in effect would be disregarding an agreement with himself. Socrates in his pretend discussion with the Laws also points out that he has followed these Laws his whole life, which in a way would make the Laws like a parent to Socrates and he would be disobeying them by escaping. In this part of the discussion Socrates is trying to point out that he should not escape just because he doesn’t want to die.
Instead he should be willing to suffer and die according to the Laws rather than to destroy them by trying to save oneself. This argument would fully reject the egoistic theory and focuses instead on the utilitarianism theory that the decision of which action to take should be decided upon by what the consequences of the action is. In the end of this discussion Socrates argues that since he chose to live in Athens he in fact created a type of deal or understanding with the Laws that he would follow them and obey their ruling, whether or not the ruling came from unjust people.
Socrates points out that he cannot change this deal or understanding just because he does not like the outcome, especially since he had followed and upheld the Laws up to this point. This part of the argument relates to deontological theory in that Socrates is deciding which action to take by reviewing what is morally right or wrong. In conclusion Socrates tells Crito the right and just action would be to obey the Laws and whatever consequences come of breaking them. He says “then be resigned, Crito, and let us follow this course, since this is the way the god points out. “