One of the realities of Athenian life that Socrates
lamented the most was the prominence of the sophists.
These sophists prided themselves on being able to make the weaker argument
the stronger. Relying on persuasion and
rhetoric, sophists would argue in support of which ever side of a case they believed would
serve their best interests, or whichever side they were being paid to argue for. Socrates decried the sophists because they did not
recognize a difference between truth and opinion, believing that everything was relative. Some contemporary social critics compare modern
day advertisers, lawyers, and politicians to Greek sophists. Many of these people, the argument goes, are
concerned only with convincing you to believe them, not with the truth. The following Web links will help you explore this
- It is an advertisers job to convince the public to
spend money on their products. While a few
advertisers rely on outright lies and fraud to part you from you money, most simply rely
on persuasion. Examine these links and decide
what, if any, relationship exists between advertising and the truth.
Advertising Law &
Ethics; Great site, try the quote index.
in Advertising problem: Resources
World: Excellent general resource
- Some modern politicians are criticized for spending too much
time selling themselves. Like an
advertiser, a politician must convince the public to think that they are the best
candidate for the job. While they are urged to stick to the issues, too often politicians
resort to attack ads, spin doctors, and damage control.
Once in office, some politicians are criticized for relying on opinion polls to
make decisions instead of taking a stand and holding to their personal convictions. Use these links to decide how much some
politicians resemble sophists.
- Lawyers are, in a very literal sense, are arguers for hire. A defense attorney is legally obligated to argue
as persuasively as they can for their clients best interests. Prosecuting attorneys try to present the best case
they can to convince the jury of the guilt of the accused.
Many social critics argue that people with enough money can convince a jury of
anything. The following links will help you
explore the relationship between lawyers and sophists.
Should we modify our legal system? How?
Center for Public Integrity
Drunk Driving Law Center
Driving Legal Defense Center - Tools for the DWI Lawyer
Profession: Tactics & Ethics in Criminal Litigation
Dirty Tactics in Legal