Morals and Politics: Theories of Their Relation from Hobbes and Spinoza to Marx and Bosanquet

Morals and Politics: Theories of Their Relation from Hobbes and Spinoza to Marx and Bosanquet

Morals and Politics: Theories of Their Relation from Hobbes and Spinoza to Marx and Bosanquet

Morals and Politics: Theories of Their Relation from Hobbes and Spinoza to Marx and Bosanquet

Excerpt

Perhaps the simplest statement of the contract theory is that put into the mouth of Socrates by Plato in the Crito . Socrates, awaiting execution in prison, is begged to escape by friends who have provided means for the purpose. He personifies the Laws of Athens as pleading:

'What can be your intention, Socrates, in this attempt, except to destroy the whole constitution of the city, so far as in you lies? Do you think that a state can remain unsubverted, if its sentences are not enforced but are evaded and set at nought by its subjects?'

He argues that the injustice of the sentence does not excuse its evasion, for the Laws may say:

'Were those the terms of our compact, or were they that the decision of the state should be final? . . . Did we not preside over your very birth, when your father begat you in lawful marriage? Do you question the institution of marriage or that of the education you were brought up in? Were we not wise so far as we prescribed to your father that he should give you a liberal education of mind and body? Then, since we brought you into the world and brought you up and educated you, can you deny that you are our child and our chattel as your fathers were before you? Do you think we are on such terms of equality with you that it is right for you to retaliate upon us, whatever we may have done to you? Surely you would not . . .

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