Socrates’ story is famous enough. Melisas accused him of corrupting the young, and worshipping gods contrary to the state. The charges were false, and thus, the subsequent conviction was unjust on its face. Yet, Socrates, committed to his principles (ostensibly), went to his grave defending the judgment on the grounds that it was a greater injustice to disobey the law, and that no good man would trade an evil for an evil.
The following is my attempt to answer a question posed to me recently. When I look at the question, it seems to focus on the individual. So, I think the easiest way to begin this, is to start with the self. Since I’m no Derek Parfit or Bernard Williams, and the question seems to be focusing on moral sentiment and moral choice, I’m going to reduce the ‘self’ to just that part we always end up talking about, when we talk about choice: The Will.
The following quote is from a discussion of Plato’s dialogue “The Republic”, from this course on Coursera. The professor, a Dr. Meyer, is explaining the interactions early in the book between Glaucon, Adeimantus, Socrates, and Thrasymachus, wherein the group is debating the subject of whether it is more advantageous to be a just or an unjust man. Dr. Meyer, in this quote, is attempting to compare the vulgar egoism of Thrasymachus to Ayn Rand’s Virtue Of Selfishness, in a throw-away line clearly intended to virtue-signal, and intimidate younger students: