The Instigator
kcribben
Con (against)
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The Contender
lenahalv
Pro (for)
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Should Socrates have drank the hemlock?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/5/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,141 times Debate No: 30961
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
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kcribben

Con

Socrates was an ancient philosopher who was sentenced to death for corrupting the youth of Athens and for going against the gods. Socrates essentially committed his own suicide by being forced to drink the hemlock, a very poisonous plant. Socrates should not have done this for several reasons. One, committing your own suicide is just taking the easy way out of a hard situation. Also, throughout Socrates' entire defense, he refers to himself as a good and honest man. If Socrates was indeed this good and honest man then there would be no need for him to have ended his life. Socrates had other options for his punishment such as exile. Despite probably not being respected by people from another town, exile seems like a much easier way to be punished than to commit your own suicide. Socrates did not corrupt the youth of Athens, he was simply teaching them to question things to gain better knowledge. Socrates did nothing wrong by this. Therefore, Socrates should not have drank the hemlock.
lenahalv

Pro

Socrates made the right decision by drinking the hemlock. He is purely concerned with "acting the part of a good man or of a bad". He knows he is not doing anything wrong, and will accept such punishment that is bestowed upon him. As long as he knows he is doing right, he does not care what others believe. "Clearly that which is my due", Socrates will not fight the people of Athens on their belief.
Socrates goes on to explain "When I do not know whether death is a good or an evil, why should I propose a penalty which would certainly be an evil". If Socrates was to pick imprisonment, he is aware of his fate, a life of confinement. By choosing death, he is embracing the unknown.
"I would rather die having spoken after my manner, than speak in your manner and live." Socrates refuses to conform to the ways of the Athenians. He refuses to admit he had done anything wrong, as in his eyes he has committed no wrong deed. Socrates must "abide by [his] award", and accept what fate has decided. He will let the Athenians sentence him as they wish, as they believe he must suffer the penalties of "villainy".
Debate Round No. 1
kcribben

Con

Socrates did not make the right decision at all. He says in his apology that "God orders me to fulfill the philosopher's mission of searching into myself and other men. I were to desert my post through the fear of death or any other fear; that would indeed be strange." Socrates says right there that he had a mission to fulfill and by him drinking the hemlock, he was not fulfilling his mission because of his death. Also he calls his accusers murders for sentencing him to death. What is Socrates but not a murderer himself for drinking the hemlock when he had the chance to escape. While I understand living unjustly went against everything Socrates believed in, some exceptions must be made, especially in the extreme case such as this one. A life of confinement would have been much better than no life at all, wouldn't you agree? Socrates did not want to propose a penalty such as death because he did not know if his death would be in a vain or if it would have been a blessing. Had he not drank the hemlock, he totally could have gone living for however many years he had left, educating and speaking to more people.
lenahalv

Pro

A life of confinement would not have been better than death, simply because as Socrates states, death is unknown. . "either death is a state of nothingness and utter unconsciousness, or, as men say, there is a change and migration from this world to another." Socrates does not claim to know death, but refuses to fear it.
"And I prophesy to you who are my murderers, that immediately after my death punishment far heavier than you have inflicted on me will surely await you." Socrates is not committing suicide, he is being murdered. The people who have agreed on his death are the ones ending his life. They are wrong in wanting Socrates dead, as he is merely being accused. The "judges who have condemned" him are seeking an extreme punishment. "The noblest way is not to be crushing others, but to be improving yourselves". Even though Socrates in being condemned by his peers, he still offers them advice on how to better themselves. Socrates is using himself as an example for the unnecessarily severe punishment of the Athenians.
Debate Round No. 2
kcribben

Con

Socrates acted as a martyr for his own agenda. He knew he was innocent, he says so in the Apology. "...Why, indeed, except for the sake of the truth and justice and because they know that I am speaking the truth, and that Meletus is lying." If he was innocent there was no need for him to drink the hemlock. Socrates was upwards of seventy years old when he was sentenced to death, I'm sure if the Athenians waited a few years Socrates would have died naturally, like he would've have wanted to go so as to not disturb the oracle's mission for him. Socrates makes it a point to say that if the Athenians kill him they are doing more harm to themselves than they are to him. If this is the case, then he drank the hemlock out of spite, not something a good and honest man would do is it?. He was an old man who made a fool out of the younger powerful people in Athens and that's what upset them. Since Socrates has done no wrong, offended no one, (except for maybe the people in power of Athens) and lived a just life, there was no need for him to drink the hemlock.
lenahalv

Pro

There was no need for Socrates to drink the hemlock as he was innocent, but it was necessary for him to prove his point. By accepting the lesser punishments, Socrates would have been working with his accusers. Knowing he was wrongfully convicted, he accepted the fullest punishment available. Even if it is considered spiteful of Socrates to drink the hemlock, it still was necessary and needed. If Socrates did not drink the hemlock, he would have been condoning the accusations against him. By taking the most extreme route, he produced the most extreme results. He showed the people of Athens that wrongfully convicting someone must end with serious consequences. The serious consequences resulting in the loss of his life. I do agree that it appears Socrates drinking the hemlock was purely to punish the people of Athens, yet what if Socrates didn"t drink the hemlock? He would be considered a hypocrite even more and go against his own teachings. By accepting the harsh punishment Socrates proves his point, and an innocent man"s life was lost.
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by likespeace 3 years ago
likespeace
There are many Socrates / Hemlock debates lately. I'm curious--what has spurred you to choose this topic? Is it perhaps a high school or after-school club requirement?
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