While both Dr. King and Socrates are both great philosophers that will be studied more than likely until the end of time, they carry differing opinions on the issue of civil disobedience. It also must be observed that the two of these philosophical titans both lived and thought in two different ages of history although they faced similarities in the circumstances presented to them, with Dr. king persecuted for his skin color and Socrates for his way of thinking. The question at large is a matter of what would Dr.
King’s response be to “The Crito” a work by Socrates by which he argues the law must be obeyed even when it is unjust? I believe the simple answer would be that if something is wrong or unjust it would be of a higher crime to obey or follow it with the conscious knowledge of it being wrong and unjust. The strongest of these arguments would be that of King’s ringing words from his letter from the Birmingham jail that “an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. This would hold true as a injustice that remains unchallenged is allotted the freedom to be an injustice to anyone or anything it encounters.
The idea of justice and the pursuit of it is held one of the virtues that identifies the virtuous men from those of ordinary stature. A man who is willing to simply let an injustice to persist is not worthy of the honor that is bestowed upon a person that has been deem of virtuous nature. Dr. King modeled his philosophy after that of Mahatmas Gandhi who also stood up to unjust laws, and spear-headed one of the most radical social movements for freedom in the 20th century. It was after Gandhi’s philosophy that Dr.
King developed his own, along with his beliefs in his Christian faith. The beliefs of his faith allowed him to understand early on that there are things more important than rational logic and peace and order that are achieved by way of unjust laws. It is the nature of the law that is of concern. There is no true rationale way to follow a law that services different groups of people in different ways. The sole purpose of the law is to serve as a defense measure to protect and ensure the application of equal justice.
The law is to be designed in a way that protects the citizen from harm. When it opens the citizen to the potential of harm on its watch or even worst it is the cause of harm it no longer serves it purpose and can no longer be obeyed with good reason. I believe there are many arguments that may be made to the contrary of Socrates’ “The Crito”. The nature and application of the law is what matters more than the development and writing of the law itself. It is because of these things that Dr. King would disagree on this issue with Socrates.