Does Socrates Hold Contradictory Positions On Civil Disobedience?
In Plato’s Apology and Crito, there is an apparent contradiction between each dialogue’s representation of Socrates’ position on civil disobedience. Gary Young represents Socrates’ contradictory positions this way:
(I) I shall not give up philosophy, even if the city commands me to do so. (Ap.29d)
(II) Every citizen (including myself) should obey every command of the city. (Cr. 50a-53 a)
Young then claims that the contradiction has been typically dealt with in one of two ways.
(1) The contradiction between (I) and (II) is merely verbal or apparent; that is, Socrates is not really contradicting himself in asserting (I) and (II), because he has in mind a qualification of either (I) or (II) [usually (II) is picked for this role], which has the effect of limiting the applicability of (I) to one set of cases, and the applicability of (II) to a wholly different set of cases, so that (I) and (II) could never both apply to the same situation.