Socrates died for a noble cause: the belief that one should never change their beliefs because of their fear of death. He chose to give up his life as an example for generations after as he declares to the jury, "Wherefore, O men of Athens, I say to you, do as Anytus bids or not as Anytus bids, and either acquit me or not; but whatever you do know that I shall never alter my ways, not even if I have to die many times" This is why Socrates meant to be prosecuted, he was not afraid of death, and believed if he died for a noble cause it was justified. However, once accused, Socrates does not escape from prison and later, execution, for: "Socrates is confident that justice and morality are always in our interest. He insists that a just person will allow nothing to count against doing the just action, no matter what the cost may be. If Socrates were to choose an ordinary good over the just course of action he would be choosing an action that is bad for him, and he refuses to do this; this is why he refuses to propose an alternative to the death penalty."
Mill’s main criticism in his second essay was well taken: Tocqueville, in failing to define democracy with precision, sometimes confused its effects with those of a commercial civilization in general. As a nation progresses in industry and wealth, its manufactures expand, its capital grows, its class structure changes, and the intermediate group between poor and rich, comprised of artisans and middle class, multiplies. This may seem to make, as Tocqueville believed, a trend to equalization, but it could be merely one of many consequences from augmented industry and wealth, which created a highly complex society without necessarily furthering political freedom and democratic equality. Mill doubted whether in itself a commercial civilization, aside from other influences, necessarily equalized conditions among men. At any rate it failed to do so in Britain. There, he wrote, “The extremes of wealth and poverty are wider apart, and there is a more numerous body of persons at each extreme, than in any other commercial community” (193). Owing to their abundant children, the poor remained poor, while the laws tended to keep large concentrations of capital together, and hence the rich remained rich. Great fortunes were accumulated and seldom distributed. In this respect, Mill thought, Britain stood in contrast to the United States, although in commercial prosperity and industrial growth she was similar.
The civic drama of Socrates trial | Aeon Essays
Our best sources of information about Socrates's philosophical views are the early dialogues of his student, who attempted there to provide a faithful picture of the methods and teachings of the master.