Crime and Punishment: Getting Off "The Hook".
Repercussions for one's own actions are a common theme throughout literature. Adverse reaction as a result of action takes place in Plato's Five Dialogues, Henry David Thoreau's Walden and Civil Disobedience, Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle, and The Marquis De Sade's Justine. Numerous philosophers have advocated that the future of the human race does not lie in outside of mankind's grasp in the hands of some obscure deity, but in the willingness of people to change their behavior and be accountable for their inadequacies. Furthermore, philosophers such as Socrates and Vonnegut have stressed that responsibility for one's actions is the first step toward understanding why things are the way they are (i.e. war, hunger, injustice, etc.) As Socrates states, "Would that the majority could inflict the greatest evils, for they would then be capable of the greatest good, and that would be fine, but now they cannot do either. They cannot make a man either wise or foolish, but they inflict things haphazardly" (47). Furthermore, because the future of mankind is one where the lives of individuals will be increasingly intertwined, it is logical that the actions of one person could have a chain reaction, greatly affecting the welfare of millions of people. Therefore, accountability for action will become increasingly difficult. Philosophers maintain that consequences for one's own actions must be taken into consideration, many times in spite of their society persecuting them for their radical standpoints.
Socrates suffered the consequences of "corrupting the youth" by an ancient Athenian court. As a brilliant philosopher hundreds of years ahead of his civilization who was seeking to define the nature of ethics by asking seemingly awkward questions, Socrates' quest exposed the ignorance of those who believed themselves to be wise, with one of the most documented incidences being his debate with Euthyphro concerning the origins of piety.