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Socrates was accused of the capital crime of corrupting youth with his teachings, and was sentenced to death (Cooper). Socrates did not deny he was guilty of the charge, but rather protested that what he was accused of was something he had practiced his entire life, and if it was illegal, then his whole life was illegal. He claimed that he was being accused unjustly of corrupting the minds of the young, but had merely made people think, and had opened their minds and made them question things. He felt he had been accused by those who did not like to have their authority questioned. There were some who said he preached atheism, and Athens was devout in the worship of their gods, so he speculated that maybe this was behind his punishment. He admitted to teaching philosophy, but felt that he was being charged for other reasons. Socrates firmly believed in obeying the law, but questioned that he had been unjustly accused. He believed firmly in legal obligations to obey the law, but had doubts about the morality of the laws and those who made them.

Socrates drew a distinction between suffering injustice and doing it (Cooper). He believed his accusers were doing him an injustice, but he would not do injustice in return by escaping from prison because his ethical system prevented him from doing so. Even though he was given the opportunity to escape without harming anyone, and would have then been free to go ahead with teaching his philosophy and continuing his good works, Socrates felt imprisoned by an unbreakable bond of an obligation not to act unjustly.

The fact that Socrates intended to violate the law after being given notice that his teachings would be punishable shows that he did not feel a moral obligation to obey the law, even though he believed that legally, the law was just (Cooper). He knew what the law was, he just did not believe that the lawmakers had the right to make such a law: he believed that it was imm...

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Socrates. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 16:37, December 07, 2021, from