Plato’s Crito on Civil Disobedience and Political Obligations

Peitho 2 (1):139-158 (2011)
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The present paper focuses on the complex relation between ethics andpolitics in Plato’s Crito. While the issue is presented from a contemporaryperspective, the problems of civil disobedience and politicalobligation are the present study’s primarily concern. The issue of civildisobedience concerns moral reasons for breaking the law, whereasthe concept of political obligation refers to a moral duty to obey the law.When disagreeing with the view that Socrates in the dialogue arguesfor an unconditional obedience to the state, the article builds on theApology. Subsequently, the similarities between the position of Socratesand that of H.D. Thoreau are investigated. Finally, the paper discussesthe concept of political obligation so as to show that the argumentin the Crito anticipates several modern theories. The modern controversiesthat this article covers are shown to play an important role in Plato’sdialogue, as they are the basis of Socrates’ political obligation.



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An Outline of a System of Utilitarian Ethics.J. J. C. SMART - 1961 - [Carlton]Melbourne University Press on Behalf of the University of Adelaide.
Socrates: Ironist and Moral Philosopher.Gregory Vlastos - 1991 - Cambridge University Press.

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