Roberts, Jean. “Socrates, the Athenian” in Reason and Analysis in Ancient Greek Philosophy: Essays in Honor of David Keyt, ed. by F.D. Miller and G. Anagnostopoulos, 55-66. Dondrecht, Netherlands: Springer, 2013.
In Plato’s Crito, Socrates offers a famous and much criticized argument that he has a moral obligation to obey the laws of Athens. In this essay, I argue that although the speech that Socrates gives in the Crito in the voice of the Laws of Athens claims that an Athenian citizen owes absolute obedience to them, the speech does not articulate Socrates’ full and considered judgment about his moral obligation to act in accordance with Athenian law. I argue that the speech articulates Socrates’ conception of his legal obligation, an obligation that is, in the broader context of the argument in the Crito, carefully subordinated to his broader moral obligations. In this way, the otherwise curious feature of Socrates speaking as the Laws of Athens is explained.