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Question: Can A Person Perform Evil Acts Voluntarily? Essay, Research Paper

Question: Can a person perform evil acts voluntarily?

?Evil corrupts the evil doer.? ?Is there anyone, then, who wishes to be harmed by those he associates with, rather than to be benefited?? In defending himself against accusations of corruption and evil, Socrates argues in his apology that no person performs evil acts voluntarily.

Meletus, Socrates? principal accuser, claims that wicked people like Socrates do harm to others intentionally. Meletus accuses Socrates of corrupting the youth, of harming those close to him. He continually and vehemently reaffirms his stance that Socrates acts in evil voluntarily.

Socrates defends himself to Meletus firstly through an analogy. He states, ?That all human beings make (horses) better, while one certain one is the corrupter? Or is it the wholly opposite to this, that one certain one is able to make them better ? or very few, those skilled with horses ? while the many, if they ever associate with horses and use them, corrupt them?? He says that his analogy holds true for other animals, and ?it would be a great happiness for the young if one alone corrupts them, while the others benefit them.?

Socrates argues that while harming others, he hurts all in that society. Because he belongs to that society, he would therefore hurt himself by harming others. He claims that he would never be foolish enough to want to hurt himself, and so if he causes harm, it must happen unintentionally. The law says that involuntary wrongs yield a punishment of teaching and admonishing. People who are brought to court are supposed to be in need of punishment ? not learning. Socrates believes he either does not corrupt, or he does not corrupt voluntarily. Therefore, Socrates openly objects to Meletus? decision to accuse him in a court of law.

Socrates states that no person performs evil deeds voluntarily. Performing such an act benefits no one ? not the individuals, not society as a whole. To act voluntarily in evil harms the victim, the criminal, and all other people around them.


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