In his defense at his trial, Socrates "cross-examines" his accuser, Meletus, concerning his charge that Socrates has "corrupted the youth." Socrates shows Meletus that from assumptions that Meletus grants, he can deduce the somewhat surprising conclusion that no one would deliberately harm "his associates". Therefore if indeed it is true, as Meletus claims, that Socrates is corrupting the youth with whom he associates, he must be acting out of ignorance. The proper thing to do, then, is instruct Socrates, not to punish him. (Of course Socrates realizes that there are and have been people who "corrupt" others, but he earnestly believes that they do so "out of ignorance" or in other words they fail to foresee the ultimate consequences of their corrupting will be harmful to themselves.)
The main argument can be paraphrased thus:
Anyone who deliberately corrupts his associates runs the risk of being harmed by them.
No one deliberately wants to risk being harmed by his associates.
Therefore, No one deliberately corrupts his associates.
This argument is deductive in character, (i.e. it claims its conclusion follows with necessity from its premisses); furthermore, it is in fact a valid deductive argument, or in other words, the conclusion really does follow with necessity from the premisses.
One way to show the validity of the argument is to analyze it using the tool of the "categorical syllogism." Such an analysis might proceed as follows:
Click here to show the validity of
the main argument by a syllogistic analysis.