Colin Guthrie King: "Accepted Norms and Ethical Argumentation in the 5th Century BCE"

Samseminarium – Högre seminariet i teoretisk filosofi och i filosofins historia

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Colin Guthrie King, Providence College/Universität Basel: "Accepted Norms and Ethical Argumentation in the 5th Century BCE"

The modern historiography of ancient ethics has more or less explicitly determined that Socrates was the first individual engaged in ethical inquiry. This historiographical claim is justified in the literature using several different arguments and ancient texts. One purpose of this paper is to critically reflect on both the metaethical background assumptions of this historiographical claim, and to examine the textual evidence submitted for it. A further purpose is to consider non-Socratic evidence for metaethical reflection in ancient philosophy itself in the 5th Century BCE. Upon the basis of testimony concerning an ethical fragment, Prodicus’ "Heracles at the Crossroads”, I shall argue that we indeed have direct evidence for properly meta-ethical reflection in the 5th BCE which is non-Socratic.