We find in Plato’s dialogue Crito that Socrates too, like Kant, was an advocate of Deontological Ethics. The word ‘deon’ comes from a Greek word that is commonly translated into the English word, duty. And so, Deontological Ethics define morality in terms of adherence to duty, rules and laws. In simpler words, Deontological Ethics hold right as the fulfillment of duty and wrong as the deviation from it.
While Socrates awaits his death, his friend Crito visits him and tells him how easy it would be for him to escape hemlock. He argues that it is the opinion of the majority that Socrates should escape death, particularly because the trial that declared him guilty was biased and unjust. In reply to this, Socrates sides again with reason and says opinions can be right or wrong. Opinions are not true even if they are held by a majority of people. Socrates, then, gives Crito an argument which is as true as it can get in the fallible world. He says:
This truth, that Socrates arrives at through his famous Dialectal Reasoning, is in utter contrast with the opinion of the majority, those who believe that he should escape his death. While they advocate breaking rules Socrates argues against it, even though it will result in his death.
Furthermore, Crito includes another aspect to his argument and demands Socrates to put light on the nature of these rules. He argues that these rules are biased and unjust and which Socrates agrees. Now this is where Socratic Deontology shines bright and glorious. Socrates asserts that the rules are to be obeyed no matter what, just like Kant wants them obeyed. He talks of an agreement he has with his city, Athens, and that a few wrong people should not be the cause of his betrayal of Athenian laws. Kant does not want you to lie even if it saves someone’s life. His agreement with Athens is like a Social Contract that he believes should not be disobeyed, not even in matters of life and death.