A Socratic View of Wrongdoing
Morality is a term that refers to our adherence to rules that govern human behavior on the basis of some idea of right and wrong. Ethics refers to our process of reasoning about moral rules. Whatever your concept of morality, it must address the human capacity to identify and choose between right and wrong and then to act accordingly. Socrates believed that nobody willingly chooses to do wrong . He maintained that doing wrong always harmed the wrongdoer and that nobody seeks to bring harm upon themselves. In this view all wrongdoing is the result of ignorance. This means that it is impossible for a human being to willingly do wrong because their instinct for self interest prevents them from doing so. This is an extraordinary statement that strikes disbelief in many people going all the way back to Aristotle . It seems contrary to experience that nobody knowingly does wrong. Perhaps you have personally witnessed examples of people who did wrong and seemed to know full well that their behavior was wrong. We propose that this belief of Socrates is true in a clear and simple way.
If you answered yes to the above questions, then you can accept the idea that nobody chooses to do wrong when they perceive that the wrongdoing in question will bring harm upon them. To the extent that we simply obey our instinct to benefit ourselves and relieve our suffering, we are not willing to harm ourselves. Socrates’ believed that persons who seek what they understand to benefit them are not trying to do wrong. They do not act for the sake of the wrong, but for the sake of obtaining the perceived good with which they are trying to improve their lives.