In the “Crito” Socrates argues that it is morally correct for him to stay in prison and be executed, even though he did nothing wrong. Is he correct? In the dialogue “Crito”, Socrates is given the ch

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  • In the “Crito” Socrates argues that it is morally correct for him to stay in prison and be executed, even though he did nothing wrong.  Is he correct? In the dialogue “Crito”, Socrates is given the chance to escape from prison and avoid being wrongly executed.  He tells Crito “If escaping is the right thing to do, then I will do it.  But if it’s not right, I won’t.”  Crito then attempts to show him why it would be right to escape.  Socrates quickly dismisses his arguments, and gives his own argument to show why it is right for him to stay and be executed for something that he, and Crito, both know he didn’t do. You will need to read the dialogue at the End of Chap. 7, paying especial attention to Socrates’ argument which begins on page 138, at marker 49 where he says “Do we say that one must never in any way do wrong willingly…” That is the first premise of his argument: ‘We should never do wrong.’  I will give you that part because it is necessarily true:  the word ‘wrong’ means ‘you should never do it’.  If you should do something, then that means it isn’t wrong. His conclusion is equally obvious: ‘I should not escape’.  That would necessarily follow if we knew that escaping really was wrong.  His entire argument is aimed at showing why escaping is wrong. You need to summarize that argument, giving all the necessary steps to reach his conclusion. You can simply do a rather full outline of his argument and then just put all the sentences together to form a couple of paragraphs. Then you need to evaluate whether it actually succeeds in proving that he should stay.  It may seem obvious that he shouldn’t since he knows he didn’t do anything wrong, but his argument shows why that doesn’t really matter. Socrates’ argument is notoriously difficult to deal with.  What he says here is the basis for a democratic government.  If his argument doesn’t work, then democracy is impossible.  But if it does work, then it is just to execute people who did nothing wrong. Socrates’ argument is going on all around us in our society right now.  And it is an argument to which we don’t have particularly good answers.

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