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Evil Deeds


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The argument which I am focusing on is titled “No One Knowingly Does Evil” and is written by Socrates. This argument concludes that those who do evil things do them involuntarily. According to Socrates it is not in human nature to choose to act in a way what one believes to be harmful, instead of a way that is good. He claimed that all wrong, or evil, is only done out of ignorance and not from the intention to do evil. This view appears controversial because people are known to occasionally commit deeds that are apparently evil either out of self-interest or acting on impulse, against their better judgment. It is at this point that we come to an important clarification. Socrates did not state that doing wrong to others is ever right, but that the motivation for such actions determines the character of the will involve. Socrates maintained that people are never motivated to bring harm to themselves. Since Socrates believed that wrongdoing always harmed the wrongdoer, he saw all wrongdoing as a mistake in judgment or an expression of ignorance. This is especially true in cases where a life full of wrongdoing never physically harms the wrongdoer. Socrates believed that the most pitiable of humans were those who lived under the delusion that their wrongdoing benefited them. Socrates saw no conflict between self-interest and morality. On the contrary, he saw virtue as the greatest benefit and maintained that immoral actions actually harmed the agent and could therefore only be committed out of ignorance and misunderstanding of what the greatest benefit is. The aim of this essay is to demonstrate how it is possible that nobody does wrong knowingly. Also, objections to this argument will also be discussed. This will show the other side of the story in addition to possible rebuttals by Socrates.
In his first premise Socrates states, "All who do evil do them against his own will.” This to me means, that when one committed an evil act they did so in some sort of state of complete unawareness. In other words, humans are overcome by some other power and are forced to do these things. In his second premise Socrates states, "One would not voluntarily act against his own will.” This means that nobody willing chooses to do something wrong. Therefore, most be forced into doing it. In his conclusion Socrates sates, " All who do evil things do them involuntarily.” This means if evil is never done deliberately or voluntarily, then evil is an involuntarily act and no one can properly be held responsible for the evil that is done.
“All who do evil do them against his own will” is false, because some individuals who do evil do them knowingly. These types of people want to inflict harm on others, whether it be out of revenge or complete satisfaction. All you have to do is watch the news. In today’s current events you see all sorts of acts of evil. For example, everything that is going on with ISIS wiyh all the bombings. To me this is evil, and are people that want to hurt others, including themselves by being the suicide bombers.
“One would not voluntarily can’t against his own will” is false. I believe this because even though someone may not want to act against what they believe you have to factor in cultural relativism. Cultural relativism is the belief that moral values are to be determined by one’s culture. “The "right" view is the view held by those currently in power. The rest of us, says that moral realist, ultimately obey because we have to; we have no other choice: Regardless of whether we believe he or she lacks sufficient power not to obey" (Soccio 82). It is sad that people who are brought into a culture that promotes evil and wrong doings don't have a choice to make it right and walk away, and choose not to commit an evil act. When evaluating the entire argument as a whole, I determined it to be valid. It is logical to move from premise one to premise two and develop the provided conclusion. Even though I believe premise one and two to be false, the argument is still valid. This is because, if it were true, it would make sense to draw that conclusion from those two statements. The conclusion does not present any new information not given in the premises either. The argument automatically becomes unsound because premise one is false. It is impossible for the argument to be sound by definition.
I believe one objection would be that in certain circumstances there are dire needs. That is, someone would do an evil deed because it was absolutely necessary. For example, if a family had been kidnapped, there would be everything done in order to bring them home safely, even if some of it involved a form of evil. This objection is a problem because in this case, the evil is being done completely against one's will, but is voluntary. It is only voluntary because it is absolutely necessary in order to avoid a greater evil. Therefore, this would make premise two invalid. Another objection to this argument is Socrates is saying that people do evil things involuntarily, however I present that people are able to choose whether or not to do an evil deed. This objection is a problem because it makes the conclusion false. We are able to choose to do evil and consequently it is completely voluntary. I believe Socrates would dismiss this as a valid objection because it is not something which would happen on a regular basis. It is something which would only happen in extreme circumstances and should therefore not be considered when taking into account the validity of the premises and conclusion. Socrates would present an argument that although we are given the option of choosing, many times we are not aware of what is happening. Even though we might normally not choose to do an evil deed, we do it because we are not conscious of it. We don't necessarily want to do it, but we also do not choose to resist it.
Breaking down Socrates's argument has helped to show two things. First, I have shown the argument to be unsound due to the first premise being false. Although the argument is valid, meaning it is logical and possible. I have demonstrated that it is simply not believable. Secondly, I have presented the other side of the story. This shows some things which Socrates may not have considered or have developed since his time. Consequently, I have displayed that Socrates' argument is not accurate. That is to say people sometimes do evil deeds simply because they want to and therefore act voluntarily. This is contradictory to the original argument and disproves the final conclusion. Socrates has often been titled "The Wise Many" by scholars today. He often talked about the paradigmatic individual and therefore would not think that anyone would want to commit on evil deed. I believe Socrates always would want to commit and evil deed. I Believe Socrates always would look for the best in a person and did not want to see a less perfect side of that individual. Therefore, although being titled a wise man, I think he often failed to evaluate an entire situation.
Archetypes of Wisdom, An Introduction to Philosophy. Douglas J. Soccio. Chapter 4, pg 112.

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