Socrates and Modern Social Morality


Socrates is credited as the father of modern philosophy because of his arguments and views on various matters like morality, the soul and obedience to the law. The purpose of the paper is to show that Socrates has successful arguments when he supports morals in society. In demonstrating the validity, strength, and relevance of his claims, the essay reconstructs the claim, discusses the significance and explains why the argument is successful. Besides, the essay shows possible objections to my views on the philosopher’s arguments and an explanation of possible rebuttals to counter the proponents.

There are many arguments that Socrates puts across to justify his claim that one has no responsibility of heeding popular opinions if such ideas affect the moral beliefs of a society. In his discussion with Glaucon, Socrates says that morality is an issue of internal harmony thus one ought not to consider it absolute. This argument is significant because it explains why he believes, as captured in “The Republic” by Plato, that moral standings can be disallowed in some societies.

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For example, some societies believe that thieves should be punished by public lynching while others believe that it is only moral to forgive and subject the suspects to the law enforcers. In this example, the moral belief differs among societies, yet they all feel the sense of internal peace even though they handle the theft crime in different ways. Socrates succeeds in this argument because he explains that the human soul is divided into the mind, spirited and appetites thus people cannot be made to follow popular beliefs if they are not backed with knowledge.

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However, there are two objections that can be made to counter my assertion that Socrates’ views are successful and relevant. First, one could argue that people in one society often follow their leaders and heed to public opinions even in moral matters. However, I can reply to the claim using Socrates’ allegory of the cave which suggests that people who follow the public opinions based on beliefs and not facts are like the slaves who were released to see the light but still returned to the cave.

Secondly, there can be a counter-claim that Socrates fails to explain the difference between belief and knowledge because some ethical practices are factual but based on beliefs. However, I can respond to such a claim that the argument of the philosopher does not restrict all moral matters to beliefs. However, the philosopher asserts that one ought to seek knowledge to know if what he intends to follow as a moral practice is good or bad. However, he agrees that some beliefs are actually based on knowledge and leaders, especially the politicians, usually pass these beliefs without explaining the knowledge behind them. He, therefore, warns people against following or heeding to politicians and other leaders in the society without rigorous reasoning on the morality of their teachings.

Socrates’ second argument in support of societal morality is based on his definition of pleasure. According to the philosopher, one only gets to enjoy the real pleasure if he or she attains knowledge on every aspect of life. For example, Socrates relates the contemporary issues which people consider as sources of pleasure like sex as the great distracters of human knowledge.

The argument that knowledge is the light of morality is significant because it explains why the philosopher is against mere beliefs. In his conversation with Thrasymachus, Socrates insists that ignorant individuals who only value sex and food do not experience a steady source of pleasure. Even though he bases his argument on the lifestyle of the Athenian citizens who engage in sexual practices with the kings, the argument brings the relevance of moral philosophy in the contemporary world.

The argument is successful because it demonstrates, with an actual example, why people should seek knowledge when making decisions on moral matters. However, there is a possible objection to the argument and my interpretation of Socrates’ view on the correlation between knowledge and morality. For example, one can argue that knowledge can be deceiving if the provider is uninformed. However, I can reply to the claim that Socrates suggests that the best way to gain knowledge is to seek it from as many sources as possible. For example, Socrates engages his close friends like Glaucon and Thrasymachus in serious philosophical topics like morality and goodness of life to gain more insight on what he already knows.

Finally, Socrates’ argument about obedience to the laws of the land is one that is successful, valid and relevant. Even though Socrates has been sentenced by the jury of five hundred Athens, he gives fascinating reasons why he objects his arrest but still agrees to stay in prison despite an attempt by his close friend Crito to free him illegally. First, Socrates argues that the law itself is good, but those in control of the law have failed to impact the society positively. Consequently, he agrees to drink Hemlock poison and die even though he believes his sentencing is unfair. Secondly, Socrates argues that he respects the laws of the land and obeys the gods of Athens. When cross-examining Mellitus his accuser, the philosopher argues that his disobedience to the laws of the land and the gods can only be proved if he opted to educate the citizens about other supernatural beings.

The argument in regards to the laws of Athens is significant because it explains the circumstances under which the philosopher was sentenced, and the claims brought to the jury by Mellitus and his friends. Besides, the argument is successful because Socrates demonstrates his claims using substantial reasons which paint the picture that his accusations are dead on arrival. However, one can counter these arguments by suggesting that Socrates is wrong for declining to escape from prison even though he owes a lot to the society and his absence can erode the existing development in morality. However, I can reply that, even though Socrates is aware of the obligation that he has in the community, he also knows that dying for what he believes in is a sure way of proving all he has always taught the Athens.


The essay has analyzed Socrates arguments in respect to their relevance, validity, cogency, and consistency in the subject of morality and obedience to the law of the land. Besides, the paper has demonstrated my reasons for stating that the arguments are relevant. I have also suggested counter-claims that can arise from my analysis and given the possible ways in which I can respond to the counter-claims.

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Socrates and Modern Social Morality. (2021, Sep 22). Retrieved from

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