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“No One Knowingly Does Evil” by Socrates

The argument which I am focusing on is titled “No One Knowingly Does Evil” and is written by Socrates. This argument concludes that those who do evil things do them involuntarily. That is, people do not necessarily want to do evil things, but do them against their will. A very important point is presented by Socrates in that evil deeds are not done willingly. It is thought by many that some people are simply evil-natured and commit evil deeds because they want to.

However, Socrates is arguing that this is not true.

By doing this, he is going against common thought and presenting a very debatable conclusion. I will evaluate the argument so as to prove it is a legitimate possibility for the conclusion to be true. It will be shown why it is necessary to look more closely at this argument. Also, objections to this argument will also be discussed. This will show the other side of the story in addition to possible rebuttals by Socrates.

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Socrates’ first premise is that “All who do evil things do them against their own will. This statement is saying that humans do not have control over what they are doing when they commit an evil act. In other words, humans are overcome by some other power and are forced to do these things. Socrates makes it seem as though humans do not have a choice about whether to do right or wrong in some situations, but rather the option to commit evil is chosen for them.

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Secondly, he states, “One would not voluntarily act against his own will. ” Here, Socrates is furthering the thought that humans are overcome by some power and commit acts involuntarily.

He explains that no human would want to do something if they were not willing and therefore must be forced into doing it. Putting these two premises together yields the conclusion that “All who do evil things do them involuntarily. ” Socrates, in summary, is stating that those who do evil things do not have control over their actions and must be influenced in a very strong way to go against their will. I do not believe the first premise to be true. I think that some people have it in their nature to not do the right thing.

I think the key to this statement being false is the word “all. ” Sometimes, people want to cause harm to someone else in order to get back at them or to serve justice. If they think they are justified, that person would be more willing to commit an evil act. The second premise, in my opinion, is true. I do not think that a person, without outside influence, would simply do something which they do not want to. If it is not something a person wants to do, chances are it won’t be done. Therefore, I think this premise is true.

When evaluating the entire argument as a whole, I determined it to be valid. It is logical to move from premise one to premise two and develop the provided conclusion. Even though I believe premise one to be false, the argument is still valid. This is because, if it were true, it would make sense to draw that conclusion from those two statements. The conclusion does not present any new information not given in the premises either. The argument automatically becomes unsound because premise one is false. It is impossible for the argument to be sound by definition.

I believe one objection would be that in certain circumstances there are dire needs. That is, someone would do an evil deed because it was absolutely necessary. For example, if a family had been kidnapped, there would be everything done in order to bring them home safely, even if some of it involved a form of evil. This objection is a problem because in this case, the evil is being done completely against one’s will, but is voluntary. It is only voluntary because it is absolutely necessary in order to avoid a greater evil. Therefore, this would make premise two invalid.

I believe Socrates would dismiss this as a valid objection because it is not something which would happen on a regular basis. It is something which would only happen in extreme circumstances and should therefore not be considered when taking into account the validity of the premises and conclusion. We have the ability to make choices, and we were given the ability to choose between right and wrong. This originates from the Bible with the story of Adam and Eve. Therefore, this point would make the conclusion of the argument incorrect and would therefore make the argument invalid.

Socrates is saying that people do evil things involuntarily, however I present that people are able to choose whether or not to do an evil deed. This objection is a problem because it makes the conclusion false. We are able to choose to do evil and consequently it is completely voluntary. Socrates would present an argument that although we are given the option of choosing, many times we are not aware of what is happening. Even though we might normally not choose to do an evil deed, we do it because we are not conscious of it.

We don’t necessarily want to do it, but we also do not choose to resist it. Breaking down Socrates’ argument has helped to show two things. First, I have shown the argument to be unsound due to the first premise being false. Although the argument is valid, meaning it is logical and possible, I have demonstrated that it is simply not believable. Secondly, I have presented the other side of the story. This shows some things which Socrates may not have considered or have developed since his time. Consequently, I have displayed that Socrates’ argument is not accurate.

That is to say people sometimes do evil deeds simply because they want to and therefore act voluntarily. This is contradictory to the original argument and disproves the final conclusion. Socrates has often been titled “The Wise Man” by scholars today. He often talked about the paradigmatic individual and therefore would not think that anyone would want to commit an evil deed. I believe Socrates always would look for the best in a person and did not want to see a less perfect side of that individual. Therefore, although being titled a wise man, I think he often failed to evaluate an entire situation.

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“No One Knowingly Does Evil” by Socrates. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

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