In Crito Socrates (or, Plato through Socrates) makes the argument that the laws of a state can expect – demand, even – obedience in part because they are directly related to making you into the person you are. This argument, one of the origins of social contract theory, seems even stronger now than in Ancient Greece. The laws are indeed much like another set of parents for many of us: the state sanctions marriage and children (or at least made having a child a tax-friendly decision), there are laws that likely ensured your schooling was up to a reasonable standard, the state endeavored to provide a more or less safe environment for you to grow up in (with police, military, pollution limits, state protections against abuse and neglect, etc.), they even have supported the general culture that nurtured and enriched you (supporting the arts, education, and commerce that have been crucial to the formation of your identity and worldview). In short, for most of us, and whether we like it or not, the state (and its laws) are indeed a large part of what made us the people we are today.
But, does Socrates’s claim that you owe the state obedience follow from the idea that it supported your becoming the person you are? Or, does your obedience depend on some other factors?
If you think the state is owed obedience on these grounds, are there any limits to this obedience? Or, must one always acknowledge their personal debt to the state by following the laws? Explain. If not, where does Socrates’s argument fall short? What, in particular, allows us (or would allow us) to disobey laws, even if we have been helped and supported by them in general?
You will be graded both on content and format. You need to demonstrate thoughtful and careful engagement with our course material and at least one outside source. Specify the pages of the texts you referred to for your arguments within your text and provide a bibliography below your text (any citation style is fine, but you will be graded on your ability to adhere to it correctly; Structure your thinking and your lines of argumentation into sections and paragraphs, ideally with an introduction and conclusion. Section headers may be helpful. Your paper should be typed, 3-4 pages long (double spaced, size 12 font, 1 inch margins), and uploaded to Canvas in Word or PDF format (all word processing programs allow you to save in one of these file types). Add page numbers, a title and your name. Proofread your paper for proper grammar, spelling, etc. before submitting.
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