Socrates, democracy, and relativism
Shaw, Carson James
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This thesis concerns the relation between Socrates’ commitment to a transcendent value and democracy. I argue that Socrates’ commitment to justice overrides any imperatives from democratic law. This is because democratic law is fundamentally susceptible to a type of relativism which privileges the opinions of the many rather than a unified conception of truth. This negative aspect is why Socrates avoids politics. Yet Socrates is committed to following democratic law and procedure. He follows law and procedure because it allows him to pursue a transcendent source of value in philosophy. So a transcendent value and democratic law need not be read as an unresolved tension for Socrates, but instead we should realize his actions in respect to the city are an attempt to ground the particular in a value which transcends it.