Socrates on deception, thievery and violence: towards situational ethics?

Source document: Graeco-Latina Brunensia. 2019, vol. 24, iss. 2, pp. 67-77
  • ISSN
    1803-7402 (print)
    2336-4424 (online)
The following paper examines special groups of testimony from the Socratic literature on Socrates' attitude towards unethical forms of behaviour. The first group of texts consists of reflections on the problem of deception and the dilemma of whether it is always right to speak the truth. The next group reflects how various writers of Socratica (Aristophanes, Xenophon, Plato, Antisthenes) interpreted the moral value of thievery. The third group describes Socratic argumentation with regard to violent modes of conduct, such as slavery and beating. It reveals that our extant ancient sources depict Socrates' positive evaluation of certain forms of lying, stealing, swearing and even beating and that Socrates was a moral relativist in a sense, judging in light of the situational context, which constitutes the moral value of action.
  • The paper was supported by the scientific project VEGA 1/0864/18: Ad Fontes Cynicorum Socraticorum – pramene a interpretácia sokratovského kynizmu.
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