Socratic Persuasion in the Crito

British Journal for the History of Philosophy 19 (6):1021-1046 (2011)
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Abstract

Socrates does not use the Laws' Speech in the Crito principally to persuade Crito to accept his coming execution. It is used instead to persuade Crito to examine and work on his inadequate view of justice. Crito's view of justice fails to coordinate one's duties to friends and those to the law. The Laws' Speech accomplishes this persuasive goal by accompanying Crito’s earlier speech. Both start from the same view of justice, one that Crito accepts, but reach opposing conclusions. Crito cannot judge between the two appealing speeches. His understanding of justice is too confused for him to decide well how to help Socrates. His need to explain what happened the morning he visited Socrates will prompt him and others to examine this indeterminate view of justice. Socrates foregoes direct refutation because Crito will not abide that usual way of interrogation. Engaging in short question-and-answer conversation is not the only way to bring a person to aporia and the intention to examine oneself. Socrates does not here undermine his assertions in the Apology about his ignorance, lack of interest in teaching, constant philosophizing, and his belief that what he does is question, examine, and test those he talks to.

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Christopher Moore
Pennsylvania State University

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