MLK Vs. Socrates: A philosophical evaluation of Civil Disobedience

Last class, we had a great discussion regarding the Platonic diaglogue, “Crito” as an examination of Reason. However through the course of that conversation, we examined Socrates’ arguments rationalizing his decision to accept his punishment of death.

Plato writes:

“It is not just for you to try to do to us what you’re now attempting (avoiding death punishment).  For we gave birth to you, brought you up, educated you, and gave you and all the other citizens everything we could that’s good, and yet even so we pronounce that we have given the power to any Athenian who wishes to take his possessions and leave for whatever he wants. But whoever remains with us, having ovserved how we decide civic law, we claim this man by his action has now made an agreement with us to do what we command him to do.”

This is a very similar line of reasoning used by some of the Priests and Pastors of the American South in their critique of Martin Luther King as a Christian.  “How could a Christian man advocate the violation of the law? If it’s immoral to break a law, how could a Christian man advocate immoral behavior?”  Martin Luther King’s response to these questions and critiques of his civil disobedience is contained within his beautifully written, “Letter from Birmingham Jail” linked below. Read it. 

Letter From Birmingham Jail

When finished reading “A letter from Birmingham Jail” you should answer the following question on your newly created TOK journal Blog!

Journal #1: Compare and contrast Socrates’ use of reason and MLK’s use of reason. What would MLK’s response to Socrates be? Do you think if MLK was condemned to death for his leading protests that he would “leave with crito” or stay and accept his fate as decided by the courts of Alabama? Also, what do these two approaches illustrate about Reason as a way of knowing as a whole? What are Reason’s Strengths and Weaknesses?

And to provide context to our discussion regarding racism and systemic oppression in America, see this lucid piece by Ta-Nehesi Coates from The Atlantic:

Analyzing Reason and its Role: Journal Entry

Journal Entry for Reason Below:

Attempts have been made to identify universal, self-evident and incontrovertible laws of logic, such as the law of identity (for example, ―an apple is an apple‖) or the law of non-contradiction (for example, ―nothing can be an apple and also a non-apple‖). Are these actually laws in the scientific sense of the term, or are they axioms? How do logical axioms compare with axioms in mathematics, and with the underlying beliefs we take for granted in other areas of knowledge? What is the role of reason in ethical principles and their justification? Is reason more important to acting morally than other ways of knowing?

Plato’s Dialogue: Crito

In our study of Reason, we discussed its reliability as a way of knowing and the degree to which Western intellectual thought (and Reason as a whole) owes much to Socrates and Plato.

Thus, we’re going to take the time to read one of Plato’s Dialogues.  This one stars his teacher Socrates and the subject matter is that of Law, Justice, and why Socrates refuses to find a way out of his death sentence! Enjoy:

If link doesn’t work, PDF linked below: 

Plato’s crito

Psychological Basis of the Boomerang Project’s Link Crew initiative

A Psychological Legitimization of Link Crew


The Boomerang Project and it’s Link Crew initiative provide a lot of information on the fact that Link Crew WORKS! But they don’t provide much information explaining WHY it works! Thus,

Task: Your task is to provide a research based psychological legitimization and rationalization for the Link Crew Program at SAS. IN short, WHY DOES IT WORK?

This Research by Professor Walton of Stanford (while he was at YALE) is a great place to start!

Download the document below that is your assignment for this project. The end result will be a keynote presentation!

A Psychological Legitimization of Link Crew

Rethinking Milgrim and Obedience

Perhaps the most famous experiment in all of cognitive and social psychology, Stanley Milgrim’s Obedience Research has been replicated in various cultures, times and context.  However his original research is getting looked at in a new light given the opening of his archives at YALE.  Read the article below and we’ll discuss if we should rethink his results or if they’re just as robust as ever.