On the Question of Socratic Benevolence
In the Euthyphro, Socrates claims to be benevolent. As specific proof of his benevolence, Socrates points to the fact that he says profusely whatever he happens to possess to every man, free of charge. So in order to understand Socratic benevolence, one should begin by adumbrating his various kinds of speeches. Accordingly, this chapter first briefly surveys several dialogues to search for what motivates Socrates to speak with particular persons. McBrayer aims to contrast cases where Socrates seems particularly interested in speaking to his interlocutors with those cases where Socrates appears to be indifferent or even disinclined to speak with someone, yet nevertheless does. In the next place, McBrayer pays particular attention to Book I of the Republic, where Socrates outlines a rather passive view of justice—understood as doing no one harm—to see whether that discussion can shed light on Socrates’s alleged care for human beings.