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PHILOSOPHY 100 (Ted Stolze) Notes on James Rachels, Problems from Philosophy.

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Presentation on theme: "PHILOSOPHY 100 (Ted Stolze) Notes on James Rachels, Problems from Philosophy."— Presentation transcript:

1 PHILOSOPHY 100 (Ted Stolze) Notes on James Rachels, Problems from Philosophy

2 Chapter One: The Legacy of Socrates 470 B.C.E. – 399 B.C.E.

3 Some Preliminary Questions Who was Socrates? What were the official charges against him? What were possible unofficial charges against him? What happened to him?

4 Was Socrates Wealthy? “Although we know none of the details, Socrates evidently inherited a property sufficient to allow him to enroll in the ranks of the heavy-armed hoplite infantry, to marry twice, and to raise three sons. One marriage (the order is disputed by the ancient sources) was to a woman with the aristocratic name Xanthippe. The other marriage, according to tradition, was without dowry, to a daughter of the distinguished Athenian statesman Aristides (nicknamed “the Just”). The two connections suggest that his inherited financial position was relatively secure – secure enough, perhaps, to allow him to spend substantial time upon philosophical investigations rather than worrying about starvation. Socrates was not a rich man, and once his philosophical career commenced in earnest his estate declined (Ap. 31b-c). But it is undeniable that his conventional Athenian upbringing made it possible for him to become a philosopher.” (Josiah Ober, “Socrates and Democratic Athens,” in The Cambridge Companion to Socrates, edited by Donald R. Morrison [New York: Cambridge University Press], p. 161.)

5 The argument about destroying the state The analogy between the state and one’s parents The social contract argument Why did Socrates Believe He had to Die? He offers three basic arguments in the Crito:

6 The Argument about Destroying the State 1.If we do not as a general rule obey the law (allowing only rare exceptions), the state cannot exist. 2.It would be disastrous if the state did not exist, because we would all be very much worse off without it. 3.Therefore, we should as a general rule obey the law (allowing only rare exceptions).

7 Objections to the Destroying the State Argument Would Socrates’ disobedience really have resulted in social chaos? Would we be better off without the state?

8 The Parent/State Analogy 1.We should always obey our parents. 2.The state is like our parents. 3.Therefore, we should always obey the state.

9 Objections to the Parent/Ruler Analogy Does the analogy work? Should we always obey our parents? Is the state really like our parents? The analogy is precisely wrong: democracy requires instead that we think of the people themselves as the parents, and the rulers as the children

10 The Social Contract Argument 1.If you enjoy the benefits of citizenship, then you have implicitly promised to obey the laws of your society. 2.Socrates had enjoyed the benefits of Athenian citizenship. 3.Therefore, he had promised to obey the Athenian laws.

11 Objections to the Social Contract Argument Does the idea of an implicit promise make sense? Does such an implicit promise require citizens always to obey the law? What if Socrates had not been an Athenian citizen but instead a slave, resident alien, or woman?

12 Martin Luther King. Jr. on “Socratic Tension” You may well ask: “Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches, etc.? Isn’t negotiation a better path?” You are exactly right in your call for negotiation. Indeed, this is the purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and establish such creative tension that a community that has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. I just referred to the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister. This may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word tension. I have earnestly worked and preached against violent tension, but there is a type of constructive nonviolent tension that is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, we must see the need of having nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men to rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. So the purpose of the direct action is to create a situation so crisis-packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. We, therefore, concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in the tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue. (Excerpted from “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” in I Have a Dream: Writings and Speeches that Changed the World, edited by James M. Washington [NY: HarperSanFrancisco, 1992], pp )


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