philosophy 21 fall 2004 g j mattey n.
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Philosophy 21 Fall, 2004 G. J. Mattey. Crito. Escape?. Socrates will be executed in two or three days unless Crito and his other friends arrange his escape and exile from Athens Money is no object, and he can take refuge in Thessaly

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philosophy 21 fall 2004 g j mattey
Philosophy 21

Fall, 2004

G. J. Mattey


Socrates will be executed in two or three days unless Crito and his other friends arrange his escape and exile from Athens

Money is no object, and he can take refuge in Thessaly

Crito says he would be thought shameful by the majority if he did not help Socrates when he had the means

He is willing to run the risk of reprisal

who is to judge
Who is to Judge?

Crito claims that the opinion of the majority is important, as they can do great harm

Socrates disagrees

We should pay more attention to the opinions of reasonable people

The majority can do no great harm because they can do no great good, since they cannot make a person foolish or wise, but only “inflict things haphazardly”


Crito says it would not be just for Socrates not to save himself as his enemies wish

He is betraying his sons, whom he could educate

Someone who is not committed to his children’s well-being should not have them

Socrates is choosing the easiest path, not the path that the courageous man, concerned with virtue, would choose

He is also making his friends look bad for not allowing them to save him


One should value the opinion of one who has knowledge over that of the many

The professional athlete should most value the opinion of the doctor or trainer

If he does not, he will suffer harm

This holds for all other matters, especially those regarding justice, shame, and good

Life is not worth living for us if we are corrupted by unjust actions

the good life
The Good Life

Still, the majority can put one to death

But the most important thing is not life itself, but the good life, which is also the beautiful and just life

So the issue of escape turns on whether it is a just act, not what the majority would think about it

two wrongs
Two Wrongs

The issue is not the consequences of escaping or not, but of its justice

To do wrong willingly is always harmful and shameful to the wrongdoer

So, one must never answer a wrong act with a wrong act

There is no common ground between those who disagree on this point


If two people make a just agreement, they should fulfill it

Leaving Athens would be an abrogation of an agreement that would harm the other party

The laws of the city would be undermined if the verdicts of its courts have no force

the laws
The Laws

Law must be followed, whether it is justly or unjustly applied

Socrates has been the beneficiary of the laws

He was born, raised, and educated in the city

So it would be unjust to turn against its laws

It is more impious to bring violence against the city than to do so against one’s parents

the choices
The Choices

The laws of Athens allow a citizen to leave freely with is property

To stay is to make a tacit agreement to obey the laws of the city

The laws are not oppressive: it is open to Socrates to argue for better ones

Socrates above all has made a strong agreement with the city


If Socrates escapes, bad things will happen

His friends will be in danger of many harms

He will be received as an enemy of law

If he finds an outlaw state, his life will not be worth living

His conviction will be vindicated

He will be disgraced

On the other hand, no harm will come to his children, as his friends will look after them

the decision
The Decision

Crito must agree with Socrates’s argument on behalf of the laws of Athens

He recognizes that facing death is the best choice

Socrates concludes that he is led to this decision by the god