The Instigator
StephCosta93
Pro (for)
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The Contender
KristinaP
Con (against)
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Socrates should 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: 919 times Debate No: 30980
Debate Rounds (3)
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StephCosta93

Pro

Socrates should have drank the hemlock. Socrates had only had two options, either drink the hemlock or escape from prison. For Socrates escaping from prison was not an option and would have gone against his moral code. Socrates believed in living honorably and justly. By living in Athens, its citizens agree to follow its laws and accept its methods of administering justice. Socrates lived in Athens for many years and consequently this means he agreed to their laws. Had Socrates escaped from prison he would have been breaking the law and not been living honorably.
In addition, Socrates had no fear of death. Socrates felt that there was no sense in fearing something that one does not know to be evil. Death is the ultimate unknown; therefore one can never know it. In order to fear it, one would have to know that it is evil, which would be impossible. Socrates" has also stated that death is the most desired state of being for a philosopher; a true philosopher is always pursuing death. Death separates the soul from the body. One"s body is a constant impediment in the quest for wisdom, and death allows the mind to obtain the purest knowledge. Thus Socrates has no reason to fear death or to not drink the hemlock.
KristinaP

Con

Socrates was falsely accused of his crime, but he still should have not drunk the hemlock. The people of Athens assumed that Socrates was corrupting the youth, but there was no concrete evidence. Socrates told the jury that he was not formally teaching the people of Athens, but it was assumed that he was doing so. Everything Socrates supposedly did was assumed.

This all started when the oracle of Delphi, someone assumed to be in communication with the Gods, said that Socrates was the wisest man in Athens. Although Socrates believes in living honorably and justly, he has the right to stand up for himself against the unjust ruling that was given. Socrates was not given the benefit of the doubt during his trial because of how the Athenians perceived him to be. Socrates was shocked to hear that he was named the wisest man and he sought out to prove the oracle otherwise. The fact that Socrates did not boast or celebrate what the oracle said proves the Athenians otherwise in their perception of the kind of man they thought Socrates to be. This should have given evidence to the Athenians and the jury that Socrates did not consider himself wise and therefore, he should have not been viewed as a man who was so full of himself because of the reputation that was given to him. Therefore, Socrates should have not drunken the hemlock.

Although Socrates did indeed believe that death separates the soul from the body, it was never proven to be true. Socrates did not know for sure if this actually occurs. He simply believed it. Even though he did not fear death, the concept of the soul surviving the body's death does not logically give reasoning to why Socrates should have drunken the hemlock.
Debate Round No. 1
StephCosta93

Pro

Although Socrates was falsely accused and convicted of a crime he did not commit he still should drink the hemlock. Socrates chose to live in Athens, which means that he has agreed to the Athenian laws and by extent their justice system and how they administer justice. In The Crito Socrates states that in Athens "if any man of the Athenians is dissatisfied with [Athens], he may take his goods and go away whenever he pleases. [But] every man of you who remains here, seeing how we administer justice, and how we govern the state in other matters, has agreed, by the very fact of remaining here, to do whatsoever so we tell him". Socrates believes in living honorably and justly, and honoring his agreement to Athens would be the honorable and just thing to do. Therefore, Socrates has to follow the judgment that the jury handed down, which is a guilty verdict with a sentence of death. Socrates does not have to agree to the jury"s verdict, but because of his moral code and his choosing to reside in Athens he must honor the verdict. Socrates should not let his emotions cloud his judgment and stop him from following his moral conscience. This means that Socrates should drink the hemlock. Any other course of action would be violating the Athenian law and be extent violating Socrates" moral code.
KristinaP

Con

Socrates, a man of old age, should not have drunken the hemlock simply because death was soon to come to Socrates' way since he was 70 years of age. All the while Socrates was wrongfully accused, he underwent an unjust trial. Socrates states that his accusers, after speaking against him, warned the jury not to be deceived by him since he is a skillful speaker. "I mean they told you to be upon your guard, and not let yourselves be deceived by the force of my eloquence." This statement had persuaded the minds of the jury of the kind of person that Socrates was accused of being, which points him guilty. Therefore, the statement shaped the jury's thoughts of Socrates before they even had the chance to hear him out, which made their decision in sentencing him a bias decision. Socrates stated he was going to speak truthfully, but instead of the jury taking Socrates' word, they judged him based on what had already been put in the jury's minds. It seemed to be that Socrates had no chance of gaining the trust of the jury to begin with.

To Socrates, it was not about proving to the public that he was not guilty. It was about the Athenians who had something against Socrates, which persuaded the public's and jury's opinion of him. Socrates was thus left to defend himself in an unreasonable trial. Although Socrates had an agreement with the Athenian government to follow their laws because he was living in Athens, this agreement was basically broken when he was wrongfully accused of his "crime," which is evident to why Socrates shouldn't have drunken the hemlock.
Debate Round No. 2
StephCosta93

Pro

It is true that is was entirely Socrates choice to drink the hemlock. He chooses to uphold his moral code, even if Athens" justice system failed him. Socrates" trial was not a just one and the jury had already made their decision before the trial had even started. However, if Socrates were to not drink the hemlock but instead escape from prison this would only reinforce the public"s bad opinion of him. In The Crito Socrates says to Crito that him escaping "will confirm the judges in their opinion, and make it seem that their verdict was a just one. For a man who is a subverter of law may well be supposed to be a corrupter of the youth and thoughtless". If Socrates truly does not want the public to think that he is guilty he has to drink the hemlock. Socrates would not want to further tarnish his reputation and discredit his teachings by escaping from prison. If Socrates escapes from prison the public would be led to believe that Socrates is not a moral individual with a sense of honor and justice. Socrates felt that his teachings and example of living was more important than his life and does not want it all to be tossed aside because of an unjust trial. If his teachings become completely discredited then the Athens" government truly wins. Considering that Socrates does not fear death it appears that he has more to lose by not drinking the hemlock.
KristinaP

Con

Although Socrates was accused of corrupting the youth, he did not force anyone to believe in him and his teachings. The Athenians had the right to choose who and what they wanted to believe, which the jury failed to realize. Socrates' teachings were a matter of freedom of speech. Socrates lost this freedom when put on trial. He questioned Athenians because it was his duty from the Gods. Socrates states, "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, and I might justly be arraigned in court for denying the existence of the gods, if I disobeyed the oracle because I was afraid of death""

Socrates won't betray his orders. The gods ordered him to question the Athenians and to speak against the gods would mean he does not believe in the gods, which makes Meletus' argument inconsistent, thus proving an unjust trial once again. His teachings are already discredited by being put on trial. Once again, he does not care about what the public thinks of him he cares about whether he feels he did right as a philosopher. Escaping shouldn't have been the only option. The Athenians should have realized he was old and would soon die anyway. Overall, Socrates should have not drunk the hemlock because he would also be failing the gods and his duty.
Debate Round No. 3
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