Socrates, the Athenian

  • Jean Roberts
Part of the Philosophical Studies Series book series (PSSP, volume 120)


The speech Socrates gives in the Crito, in the voice of the Laws of Athens, although it claims that an Athenian citizen owes absolute obedience to its laws, does not articulate Socrates’ full and considered judgment about his moral obligation to act in accordance with Athenian law. Rather, the speech articulates Socrates’ conception of his legal obligation, an obligation that is, in the broader context of the argument in the Crito,, carefully subordinated to his broader moral obligations. Thus, the otherwise curious feature of Socrates speaking as the Laws of Athens is explained. The Laws are made to describe their understanding of a citizen’s commitment, an understanding that Socrates endorses as such in speaking for them. Nevertheless, just as any other commitment or agreement in Socrates’ view, this one should only be kept as long as doing so does not require doing injustice, a principle enunciated immediately before the speech of the Laws. Since this is not a situation in which Socrates is ordered to do anything unjust, he is bound to obey.


Moral Obligation Moral Authority Real Reason Life Worth Living Moral Expertise 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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