1. The Fifth Commandment says to respect one’s father and
mother. It doesn’t say how to respect them. Traditionally, this has
been taken to imply respect for all authority figures, including the
authority of a state. After all, when one is a child at least, one’s parents
are like the government of a little state.
2. The Crito. Galley set out on
annual trip. No execution then. Ship expected. Authorities might not have
minded exile—just S. did not propose it.
- Crito’s arguments:
- It’ll look bad for S.’s
friends that they didn’t rescue him. 44bc. How does S. answer?
- Doing the wrong thing. How?
- Discuss Greek views on
suicide. Aristotle says it is cowardly when it is to avoid pain, and
hence bad. He also says that it is an offense against the state to kill
or maim oneself, presumably because it deprives the state of ourselves.
Plato (Phaedo) says that we are the property of the gods.
- Opinion: Shame, cowardice.
(45e) Which is the real motivator here?
- S.’s answers:
- Whose opinion should be
considered in connection with the body? (47a–47c). The trainer’s. (S.’s
induction.) What if we don’t pay attention to him and pay attention to
the majority? We suffer in regard to the body.
- What about the case of the
soul? Whom should we follow. Not majority. But is there a wise one?
(47cd) No answer in text.
- If we ruin body is life worth
living? “No.” But S. may not think so. Is the argument ad hominem
(explain)? Is S. being honest here? Why or why not? Opening C.’s eyes.
- Most important is not to
live, but to live well. Active verbs at 48b.
- 49a: “one must never in any
way do wrong willingly.”
- Cannot inflict wrong in
return. Translation as “injury” of kakourgein prejudices the issue. Is
S. claiming that cannot inflict wrong or cannot inflict harm?
- What about punishment?
Retributive vs. restorative vs. deterrent views of punishment. On a
reading of S. as saying we cannot inflict harm, S. seems committed to the
restorative only. But maybe not: After all, maybe we can inflict harm if
it is to prevent overall harm to that person. (The
surgeon; parents disciplining.) The retributive goal of punishment is
compatible with this if one sees having justice done to one as a
- The speech of the laws.
- Why are the laws speaking
here, not S.? Does S. really mean this?
- Main point: should not break
the law. Is there a conflict with anything in the Apology? 29d. Is
there really conflict? Were he to keep on doing philosophy, would he be
breaking the laws? Yes.
- How to reconcile? Maybe:
Distinction between cases when the law unjustly commands us to do
something immoral and when the law unjustly commands us to do something
not immoral, but very inconvenient or maybe harmful to us? Illustrate
distinction. Which unjust law falls under which? Discussion: When
should we obey the law? Civil disobedience. What if the law has no
purpose in this case? (Not reporting income that makes no difference.)
- Also, maybe, the law which
keeps him in prison is not itself unjust, since it is just the law that
says people should stay punished if they are sentenced. But this won’t
work, because the same would hold if the punishment was to refrain from
philosophy, wouldn’t it?
- Discussion: Why should we
obey the state’s law in those cases when we should?
- Avoid punishment? (What if
we can get away with it?)
- Because it’s good for us?
(Is it always?)
- Because the things the law
commands us are the same things that morality anyway commands us?
(Administrative rules, etc.)
- Because should obey the will
of the majority? (Why?)
- Bad example for others?
(Always? What if no one finds out?)
- Lawmakers wiser than we
are? (Maybe so the Greeks thought. Is it so?)
- Avoiding breakdown of
- Will of God and authority
flowing from him?
S’s detailed argument.
Duty to parents. We are not on equal footing with father. To disobey
the laws is to overthrow them. (50b)
51e: Implicit contract with one’s state. Note in 52de the conditions
for entering into a contract (no compulsion or deceit, could have left). 53a:
S. really likes Athens.
Laws not tyrannical: can persuade 52a. (Would it be OK to disobey the
laws if they were tyrannically imposed?)
52c: S. could have chosen exile. Is this a fair argument? No:
S. would then be harming himself, and he couldn’t do that. (Or would he be
- (Might S. have a secret
reason? What could that be?)
- Note how after having said
that one should not consider what harm results, S. goes ahead and explains
what harm results to friends. 53b. Suffer in reputation. 53cd.
- What is P. trying to tell us?
Hasn’t he told us that considerations of such consequences are irrelevant
for figuring out what the right thing to do is? Yes: but in fact good
action usually is attended by good consequences. But if it never was:
Would that make any difference?