PHIL 1F91 Lecture Notes - Simone Weil, Human Nature, Harm Principle

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19 Apr 2012
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19/04/2012
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Human Nature, Morality and Ideology
In the past two or three centuries debates about Human Nature have become
entangled with debates about morality and ideology
Simone Weil’s logic
The Need for Roots
Para 1 re: the relation of a right “to the obligation to which it corresponds”.
Suppose I say: “I have the right to life” and “You have no duty NOT to kill me” or
“You have the right to life” and “I have no duty NOT to kill you”? THIS IS A
NEGATIVE RIGHT [claim].
Suppose I say: “I have the right to life” and “You have no duty to feed me if I am
hungry” or “You have the right to life” and “I have no duty to feed you if I am hungry
[and I am able to do so] ”? THIS IS A POSITIVE RIGHT [claim].
Individuals and collectives
Two major theses:
1. “Only individuals have rights”;
2. “Only individuals have duties” so as a corollary
C “There are no obligations FOR collectives”; and C2 “There are no obligations TO
collectives”
What is the difference?
The rest of her essay about the needs of the soul.
Order
Two crucial points re: Order
(1) There is a “natural order of things” due to human nature having a moral sense
that makes us conscious of a universal, unique natural law binding on all humans
[184R, penultimate para]
(2) Needs should not be confused with “desires, fancies, or vices’ [183L] because
“needs are limited” [my emphasis]
Rules and Liberty
3 crucial points
(1) “Liberty consists in the ability to choose”
(2) Rules should be “stable, general and limited in number” [my emphasis]
(3) penultimate para., 185, 1 sentence re: “good will” and immaturity [= “remain
adolescent”]
Obedience
Obedience is a vital need of the human soul’
Key idea is two types of obedience equivalent to difference between rules and orders.
RULES: Do not cross on a red light.
Pay the taxes you owe by April. 30.
ORDERS: Bring me the file for Ms. Smith
Take this document to room 357.
Initiative and Responsibility
“to feel one is useful and even indispensable, are vital needs of the human soul” but
are they universal characteristics of all humans?
Both unemployment and certain types of jobs undermine such “a vital need” [186]
Egalité
‘Equality is a vital need of the human soul’
The most contentious issue in: modern political ideological disputes, theories of
human nature, issues in gender, race, ethnicity, IQ etc. etc. etc.
In the one and only Political Science course I ever did [The Nature and Role of
Political Ideologies] I recall reading a respected political scientist who wrote that “The
conservative belief about equality is that, except in an ultimate moral sense, it is not
true that all humans are equal.
Hierarchy and Honour as Needs?
‘Hierarchism is a vital need of the human soul
Notice how this contradicts egalitarian sentiments BUT
1. Is it ‘True’?
2. Is it incompatible with a reasonable view of equality?
‘Honour is a vital need of the human soul’
2 types of Punishment
‘Punishment is a vital need of the human soul’
This may seem to be a very strange claim [except for sadists and masochists].
How can punishment be an honour?
We humans do use punishment?
Four for possible reasons:
1. Deterrence
2. Reform
3. Retribution [societal]
4. Revenge [personal]
Freedom of Opinion
States a principle just as strong as that of J.S. MilI
Intelligence in humans used in 3 different ways:
(1) Technical
(2) Ethical
(3) Theoretical
[190R para 2] qualifies absolute claims for freedom by interesting twist on Mill’s harm
principle
Two types of Associations
Interests
trade unions, professional unions, political parties
Ideas
Religious, eleemosynary, and intellectual associations and at least some political
parties
Has interesting criticism of role of political parties which she claims undermine
democracy!! [191R final 2 para.] She might be correct!!!!!!!!!!!
The Arrow Paradox and voting
What is our country’s favourite sport?:
(A) Hockey; (B)aseball (C) Feetball
Favorite drinks for Super Bowl Party?
(X) Wine (Y) Beer (Z) Soft drinks.
What is Canada’s Favorite political party?
(A) NDP; (B) Liberals; (C)onservatives
Suppose the results are: 33.3% A > B > C,
33.3% B > C > A, 33.3% C > A > B,
33.3% X > Y > Z, 33.3% Y > Z > X, 33.3% Z > X > Y,
33.3% A > B > C,
33.3% B > C > A,
33.3% C > A > B,
Note the similarity to ROCK , SCISSORS and PAPER
Security and Risk
‘Security is a vital need of the human soul’
‘Risk is a vital need of the human soul’
Do you see a paradox* in these two statements?
Do you see a contradiction in these two statements?
* “paradox” = “a seeming or apparent contradiction
2 types of Property
‘Private property is a vital need of the human soul’
Individual: my shirts, shoes and car*, your clothes, books, pens, computers [?],
ipods, ipads, and so on.
Collective: books in Brock library, the commons at Brock in fact all of Brock U is
collectively not privately owned
Notice Simone Weil is neither a pure laissez-faire capitalist defender as Ayn Rand is
but also not a socialist who wants individual property transferred to the state. The
main problem, not surprisingly, is MONEY: St. Paul [allegedly] said “Love of $$$$$$ is
the root of all evil.
*actually I don’t own my car, I lease it but……..
Truth: the greatest need?
First 2 statements interesting but highly dubious. First is merely stated, the second is
empirically falsethe definition and attainability of truth have been furiously debated
in 20th century thought.
Now the rest makes many good points but it seems to assume that there are no laws
against slander and libel. Perhaps there were not in France in her lifetime; too bad if
that was true.
Summary: most important ideas
1. Individuals are more important than collectives.
2. Obligations are universal and based on needs.
3. Human nature is endowed with knowledge [consciousness] of natural law = our
obligations.
4. Freedom of opinion and freedom of association are two very different things.
5. Truth is the most sacred need.
Ayn Rand
Atheist: not that crucial to understanding her.
Egoist: absolutely crucial to understanding her.
Individualist: also crucial to understanding her.
Objectivism: chosen by her to describe her epistemology which is surprisingly good.
Utopian: there is a US presidential candidate Ron Paul who is libertarian and whose
son is called “Rand” they will probably win the presidency when hell freezes over or
the TML win the Stanley Cup.
Ayn Rand overview
KEY IDEAS
1. The Importance of Epistemology
2. The 3 Types of persons
3. A clear theory of human nature: Mostly positive we are not inherently evil BUT
4. Our default condition is ignorance AND
5. We have the power of volition to choose wrongly.
6. Bacon/Descartes Principle: “nature to be commanded, must be obeyed” [197] =
knowledge is power and allows us to control nature to benefit humanity [the optimist
view of human nature]
BASIC IDEA IS THAT: Makers are better that both Takers [Attila] and Fakers [Witch
Doctors].
The three Main Characters
1.
Attila
the Hun: Rules the bodies of men by force and fear
2. The Witch Doctor: Rules the souls of men by guilt and laws.
3. The Producer: Rules the minds of men by Reason. [she really means the
entrepreneur
]
What is mean by “Reason”?
As with Aristotle, reason is what distinguishes us from animals: (1) It involves Logic =
avoiding contradictions [200]
(2) It involves an epistemology going beyond merely animal experience
We share with animals
sensations
and
perceptions [197]
only humans have
conceptions
Appearance reality problem evaded
P 199 para 1: Rand condemns the [alleged] condemnation of ‘reason as a “limited”,
deceptive, unreliable, impotent faculty, incapable of perceiving the “real” reason and
the “true” truth; the split of man in two, setting his consciousness (his soul) against
his body, and his moral values against his own interests; the damnation of man’s
nature, body and self as evil, the commandment of self-sacrifice etc. but she never
explains the reasons philosophers give for why reason is limited and not sufficient to
justify all our beliefs, values and opinions.
Egoism/altruism problem evaded
Rand clearly denies that there is a conflict between our moral duties and self-interest
but ignores numerous types of such conflicts as well as the numerous examples
under each types of conflict
[198] “the lethal opposition of moral and practical” plus [199] “setting… moral values
against his own interests” as in: Gyges ring, the Prisoner’s Dilemma, the
Principal/Agent problem, the Free Rider problem and the Tragedy of the Commons.
Typical non-convexities
Gyges Ring,
The Prisoner’s Dilemma,
The Principal/Agent problem,
The Free Rider problem;
The Tragedy of the Commons
Moral Hazard
Market Failure
Individualism vs. egoism
The correct dichotomies are:
Individualism versus Collectivism
Egoism versus Altruism
NOT Individualism vs. Altruism
She seems to be misled by the Invisible Hand theory of Adam Smith: the self-interest
of baker, brewer, butcher and buyer makes society better off.
“We are all self-interested utility maximizersdoes not entail that “We are always
selfish or greedy”.
The ultimate trichotomy
Libertarianism, Individualism, Egoism
There is little in this section about Ms. Rand’s most controversial idea: her radical
libertarianism
This is her most interesting idea which is despised by the politically correct ‘lefties’,
soft liberals, hard left and most conservatives as well.
Her main error is to associate it with egoism. Neither Libertarianism nor Individualism
can work without most people internalizing both kin and reciprocal altruism.
Wiel and Rand
Simone Weil
Ayn Rand
The soul is metaphysical and eternal.
I am my sibling’s keeper.
Rights and Duties [=Obligations] are based on Human Needs.
The soul is epistemological and mortal.
I am NOT my sibling’s keeper.
Rights and Duties [=Obligations] are based on self-interest and do not ever or
seldom conflict.
UQ CH. 8 Ethics and Meta-Ethics
Principles, Intuitions and Relativism
1. Principles and Rules;
First Principles and Derivative Principles
2. Intuition appears at 2 levels: (A) Elementary Moral Principles: Cruelty is wrong; (B)
First Principles: All Humans should have Equal Rights.
Two types of Relativism
Subjective Relativism
This seems to be the least plausible
Cultural Relativism
Relativism of any kind needs four different types of premises in order to be both
valid and sound
The 4 premises in support of CR
1. FACTUAL: There are significant differences between societies about moral right
and wrong, justice, virtue, vice and evil.
2. ONTOLOGICAL: There are no objective moral standards.
3. LOGICAL: There is a logical gap between sentences based on IS-claims and
sentences based on OUGHT-claims, between facts and values or between
PRESCRIPTIONS and DESCRIPTIONS
4. We have no way of EPISTEMOLOGICALLY or RATIONALLY JUSTIFYING moral
judgments on either empirical grounds or logically convincing arguments.
2 Possible types of Universal Values
1. The Golden Rule(s) is(are) found in almost all the world major and minor
religions.
2 VERSIONS: (1) Negative and positive : Do NOT do to others what you would not
want done to yourself.
(2) Do to others what you want done to yourself.
2. Universal Human Rights: from 1776 to 1948 there have been several declarations
of the Universal inalienable rights of MAN [= (HU)MAN(S)]
1776: Triad of such “INALIENABLE RIGHTS’
Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness [earlier in John Locke] property [and later
in US constitution].
Natural Law and Divine Law
4 TYPES OF LAW
1. Eternal Law
2. Divine Law [In the mind of God]
3. Natural Laws [In the mind of humans but discovered by Reason].
“Positive” Law = Human created law [normally legislated by Governments]
UTILITARIANISM
Original version was: “The greatest happiness of the Greatest number
Was based on a clear theory of Human Nature
All humans are motivated by desires to: (1) Avoid pain
(2) Acquire as much pleasure as possible.
“Happiness” = ‘pleasure’ minus ‘pain’
HAPPINESS, PLEASURE AND PAIN
Jeremy Bentham attempted to construct a Felicific Calculus
Based on 7 variables.
He argued that, since the good of each individual person consisted of maximizing
utility [=happiness], therefore the good of society as a whole is achieved by
maximizing utility for society, that is, choosing that act or policy that maximizes the
overall utility compared to all alternative possible acts or policies = LOGICAL FALLACY
OF COMPOSITION.
The CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVES
UNIVERSALIZABILITY
Act only according to the maxim whereby you can [at the same time] will that it
should become a universal law.
Substitute for [at the same time] “without self-contradiction.
AUTONOMY
Act in such a way that you treat humanity, …in your own person or …that of another,
always …as an end and never simply as a means”
= “Don’t use People [= Persons] as things, tools, machines or any other way as
means to an end ONLY.
J.S. Mill [both liberal and libertarian]
What is the difference between a liberal and libertarian? Dam good question!
Depending on one’s point of view you could say “A libertarian is one who takes liberal
principles to an extreme” OR you could say “A libertarian is one who uses liberal
principles in a logically consistent manner.
Libertarianism, Anarchism and Freedom
19th century Anarchism*
20th century Libertarianism
The Tao Te Ching
Freedom and Liberty: Are they the same?
* most prominent in Spain, Italy, France, Russia and USA. WHY?
MILL on Liberty [Ch. 1, 139-140]
This is a model of how to write an introductory paragraph or 2 [except that they
should be shorter!!].
He gets right to the point dogmatically stating his position [with many arguments to
come later].
Then he qualifies and clarifies it.
1. Right to the Point
1. One and only one principle can justify coercion against individuals: prevention of
harm to others*, i.e. self protection.
2. It is not justified for the good of the person coerced if only she is harmed.
3. It includes “moral coercion” [pubic opinion] as well as “physical force” [legal
penalties]
* emphasized because of point 2.
2. Qualifications and Clarifications
Clarifications: individual is sovereign over herown body and mind”*.
Qualifications: 1. Applies only to mature adults.
2. Applies only to modern progressive societies.
3. Does not imply Mill was racist: he was one of very few 19th century European
white males to advocate equal right regardless of “colour, race, class or gender.
* and so over their own opinions all of which go into determining “public opinion”!!!
4 principles of Social Control
1. Prevention of harm to others.
2. Prevention of harm to one’s self.
3. Welfare.
4. Prevention of harm to the Commons.
MILL on Utility [148-49]
This is neither a definition of the key term or a defense of it philosophically but an
attempt to show that making happiness a societal goal is not utopian, i.e. it is a
possible and reasonable goal.
It is an excellent example of an optimistic, maybe over-optimistic, post-Malthusian
view that rejects the Malthusian view that the problems of famine, poverty and
disease are permanently inevitable.
The Optimistic Agenda of Progress
1. The positive evils of the world are removable. [149L, penultimate sentence]
2. “Poverty… may be completely extinguished by the wisdom of society” [149L, final
sentence]
3. Disease “may be indefinitely reduced[149R, 3rd sentence] mostly due to:
4. The progress of science.
5. “The vicissitudes of fortune” are due to an interesting combination of factors: (p)
gross imprudence; (q) ill-regulated desires; (r) imperfect social institutions.
Utility and Human Nature [140-148]
Individuality: the most difficult part of Mill’s argument to understand for at least 2
reasons: he is very vague about examples for both sides of his argument: “Who or
what precisely are repressing individuality”? And;What examples of eccentricity
would he like to see?”.
So let’s switch to something much clearer: his theory of human nature!
What is Human Nature?
Human Nature is not a machine but a tree!! [142L, last line]
We are organisms not mechanisms.
We are like trees!! Why not like flowers in a garden?
Nature can and will produce better humans than exist now. [142L, penultimate line]
Human Nature is contradictory
1. Desires and impulses vs. beliefs and restraints
2. The raw material of HN capable of both “more evil, but certainly of more good” cf.
Jekyll and Hyde. [see next PP re Calvinism]
3. It is a weak conscience not strong desires that causes the problem.
Critique of the Calvinist Theory
Not named after your beloved professor or vice versa.
In GB it became known as “Puritanismand was the dominant religion in Scotland.
The 2 things most people whether religious or not don’t like about it are: its
compatibilist theory of predestination and negative view of human nature: we are all
born as miserable sinners.
Pericles, John Knox, and Max Weber
Protestant asceticism allegedly was largely, [mainly, mostly, possibly?] responsible for
the triumph of “the spirit of capitalism”, which, according to Weber was NOT the spirit
of “greed is good” [Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko]
Pericles was the great leader of Athens in the marvellously creative 5th century BCE.
John Knox was the major leader of the Reformation in Scotland.
Speaking of Scotland: “A man’s a man for all that
Genius and individuality
GB had many great geniuses and writers in the 19th century including many great
female writers
They made great contributions to modern physics [Michael Faraday, James Clerk
Maxwell, Lord Kelvin, James Joule] atomic theory, modern logic and probability theory
[George Boole, Stanley Jevons] and economic theory [Marginal U theory -Jevons
again] to say nothing of Lewis Carroll the writer of Alice in Wonderland which is NOT
a children’s story but an introduction to logic for children!!
The Tyranny of Opinion
The great contradiction in Mill’s argument.
“human beings are not like sheep” [146] or cattle [145] so why do we act like them
then?
“The Tyranny of the Majority”
MILL on Human Nature
Diversity of Taste: a person may, with no blame, like or dislike “rowing, or smoking,
or music, or athletic exercises, or chess, or cards, or study’ but not because we
respect their right to do so.
There is no outlet for energy anymore except in business [147R, par. 2].
See however FN. 4 for excellent critique of how allegedly humane laws can be
abused!!!
Liberty, Progress and Improvement
1. Page 148L para 1: liberty vs. progressivism: the 20th century has thoroughly
vindicated Mill on this: almost all “progressive” parties, ideologies and movements
have been either very authoritarian or brutally totalitarian starting in 1917 and
continuing for 95 years.
2. “the progressive principle, … as love of liberty or of improvement…..= The
GREAT IDEOLOGICAL DICHOTOMY of the 20th-21th CENTURY and another paradox of
Human Nature.
3. Final sentence [almost] totally wrong
L.T. Hobhouse and contemporary Liberalism
Notice that he wrote this in 1911 the last year Wilfred Laurier was PM of Canada.
Laurier was an older liberal individualist in the Mill tradition.
The man who epitomizes Hobhouse type liberalism while implementing libertarian
reforms on the basis of Mill’s harm principle was P. E. Trudeau. A prominent NDP
leader dismissed Trudeau as a “John Stuart Mill liberal” but he was more like
Hobhouse in many ways.
Humboldt, Mill and Hobhouse
1. Humboldt is a classical liberal and therefore closer to modern libertarian thought.
The state generally screws up and make things worse not better.
2. Mill is a transitional figure between Humboldt and Hobhouse.
3. Hobhouse is an almost perfect representative of what passes for politically correct
liberalism today [without however the extremely annoying rhetoric and dogma of the
“politically correct”]
Hobhouse’s summary of Mill
KEY IDEAS
Complete Equality for Women
Reservations about: representative government, “the tyranny of the majority” [de
Toqueville] and democracy
He favored limitation of the family i.e. birth control.
Changing attitudes to proportional representation, socialism and limits on democracy
to protect minority rights [as did our own Sir John A. Macdonald]
The Heart of Liberalism [151-156]
Starts with what Liberalism is NOT
And a list of alleged types of tyranny
Tyranny and tolerance: main 2 points are that
(1)There are other threats to liberty besides government laws and repressive policies;
(2) Tolerance does not mean either acceptance or indifference to other opinions that
you disagree with.
Transition to The New Liberalism
1. 152R para 1: wants to extend liberalism from “a duty in religion and in politics” to
the “centre of our ethical conceptions”
2. Then offers a critique of Mill’s harm principle [Next very long par] based on his
view of human nature.
3. He starts by rejecting Mill’s key distinction based on “the older individualism
[which is now the new libertarian individualism].
Carlyle versus Mill
1. There are no pure self-regarding acts.
2. We are more than our acts and options.
3. The real person human is opaque, that is not accessible to other people fully.
4. Key Ideas: the essence of humanity lies deeper than distinction of rank class,
colour or sex;
The Myth of Solidarity
“The sense of ultimate oneness is the real meaning of Equality as it is the foundation
for social solidarity”.
But “Why is this a good thing” you ask?
Well maybe it isn’t but his answer is that it eliminates or mitigates or reduces the
force of intellectual, religious and ethical conflict.
Why is liberty good?
It is united with the idea of growth [153]
It is not so much a right as a necessity of society.
It is not laissez-faire: A wants B to let him be, live and let live. Rather is based on B’s
duty to treat A as a rational person.
It is not the sole foundation for society. Mutual aid is just as important.
The Organic View of Society
A thing is “organic” if “it is made up of parts which are quite distinct from one
another, but which are destroyed or vitally altered when they are removed from the
body”
Think of the human body itself!
Is human society like the human body or is it more like a machine?
Society and the Individual [154]
Rights and the common good
Very well logically constructed argument
If my [or yours or anyone else’s] claim(s) to a set of rights is valid it must appeal to a
principle that must satisfy the hypothetical impartial observer.
But the impartial observer has no reason to prefer any one person over another so
any set of principles adopted would have to benefit all or at lest most persons
effected.
Society and the Individual
Society however does not take any precedence over the Individual.
Society is NOT an entity over and above the individual but is composed solely of
individuals .
Relates this to older idea of a natural harmony of interests which leads him into the
abstract area of first principles and then to the key ideological dichotomy of the past
century: Equality versus Liberty.
Equality versus Liberty
Different types of equality [155L]
“The Older idea of equality”.
Equal rights under the law.
Equality of opportunity.
Equality of income and wealth.
Uses argument later used by Rawls: “What inequalities of income and wealth exist
should lead to the common good especially for those at the bottom of the economic
pyramid”.
Back to liberty [final para VI, 156]
He unites liberty both to human progress as well as human nature.
Human progress is not natural in one sense: the sense use in “a physical law is
natural” but it is natural in the sense that
it is the expression of deep-seated forces
of human nature
which however work very slowly and are very cumbersome [he
says “an infinitely slow…process”].
The Heart of Liberalism
“Progress is not a matter of mechanical contrivance, but of the liberation of living
spiritual energy”.
What on earth does this mean?
One way to interpret it is as a contrast it to the idea of social engineering which
clearly does treat both society and the individual humans in it as machines that can
be tinkered with to improve them and create both better human beings and an ideal
society.
The State and the Individual [156-160]
‘Social liberty rests on restraint’ 157L
Mill himself pointed out how collective acts need not involve coercion: hospitals,
schools, parks, tramway [// streetcars, buses, subways] services,
Another interesting critique of Mill’s harm principle [157-58]
The limits of coercion
It is not possible to compel morality. [157]
But we can create conditions under which it can flourish.
We can compel moral behavior if outward conformity is desirable.
159 The New Liberal Distinction
Para 1: key distinction is not between coercive and non-coercive or self-regarding and
other regarding but between “control that cramps the personal life and the spiritual
order” [This is bad Hobson thinks] on the one hand and control aiming at creating
“external and material conditions of free and unimpeded development. This is very
good Hobson thinks.
Final para interesting argument for paternalism in strict sense: “treating adults as if
they were children”.
Reasons for state intervention
1. Market failure
2. Instability of financial and employment markets.
3. Taxation to benefit those unable to work.
Infrastructure, public goods, education, externalities.
Liberalism’s Fundamental contradiction[490]
“Modern liberalism suffers unresolved contradictions. It exalts individualism and
freedom and, on its radical wing, condemns social orders as repressive. On the other
hand, it expects government to provide materially for all, a feat manageable only by
an expansion of authority and a swollen bureaucracy. In other word, liberalism
defines government as tyrant father but demands that it behave as nuturant mother
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19/04/2012
2
Human Nature, Morality and Ideology
In the past two or three centuries debates about Human Nature have become
entangled with debates about morality and ideology
Simone Weil’s logic
The Need for Roots
Para 1 re: the relation of a right “to the obligation to which it corresponds”.
Suppose I say: “I have the right to life” and “You have no duty NOT to kill me” or
“You have the right to life” and “I have no duty NOT to kill you”? THIS IS A
NEGATIVE RIGHT [claim].
Suppose I say: “I have the right to life” and “You have no duty to feed me if I am
hungry” or “You have the right to life” and “I have no duty to feed you if I am hungry
[and I am able to do so] ”? THIS IS A POSITIVE RIGHT [claim].
Individuals and collectives
Two major theses:
1. “Only individuals have rights”;
2. “Only individuals have duties” so as a corollary
C “There are no obligations FOR collectives”; and C2 “There are no obligations TO
collectives”
What is the difference?
The rest of her essay about the needs of the soul.
Order
Two crucial points re: Order
(1) There is a “natural order of things” due to human nature having a moral sense
that makes us conscious of a universal, unique natural law binding on all humans
[184R, penultimate para]
(2) Needs should not be confused with “desires, fancies, or vices’ [183L] because
“needs are limited” [my emphasis]
Rules and Liberty
3 crucial points
(1) “Liberty consists in the ability to choose”
(2) Rules should be “stable, general and limited in number” [my emphasis]
(3) penultimate para., 185, 1 sentence re: “good will” and immaturity [= “remain
adolescent”]
Obedience
Obedience is a vital need of the human soul’
Key idea is two types of obedience equivalent to difference between rules and orders.
RULES: Do not cross on a red light.
Pay the taxes you owe by April. 30.
ORDERS: Bring me the file for Ms. Smith
Take this document to room 357.
Initiative and Responsibility
“to feel one is useful and even indispensable, are vital needs of the human soul” but
are they universal characteristics of all humans?
Both unemployment and certain types of jobs undermine such “a vital need” [186]
Egalité
‘Equality is a vital need of the human soul’
The most contentious issue in: modern political ideological disputes, theories of
human nature, issues in gender, race, ethnicity, IQ etc. etc. etc.
In the one and only Political Science course I ever did [The Nature and Role of
Political Ideologies] I recall reading a respected political scientist who wrote that “The
conservative belief about equality is that, except in an ultimate moral sense, it is not
true that all humans are equal.
Hierarchy and Honour as Needs?
‘Hierarchism is a vital need of the human soul’
Notice how this contradicts egalitarian sentiments BUT
1. Is it ‘True’?
2. Is it incompatible with a reasonable view of equality?
‘Honour is a vital need of the human soul’
2 types of Punishment
‘Punishment is a vital need of the human soul’
This may seem to be a very strange claim [except for sadists and masochists].
How can punishment be an honour?
We humans do use punishment?
Four for possible reasons:
1. Deterrence
2. Reform
3. Retribution [societal]
4. Revenge [personal]
Freedom of Opinion
States a principle just as strong as that of J.S. MilI
Intelligence in humans used in 3 different ways:
(1) Technical
(2) Ethical
(3) Theoretical
[190R para 2] qualifies absolute claims for freedom by interesting twist on Mill’s harm
principle
Two types of Associations
Interests
trade unions, professional unions, political parties
Ideas
Religious, eleemosynary, and intellectual associations and at least some political
parties
Has interesting criticism of role of political parties which she claims undermine
democracy!! [191R final 2 para.] She might be correct!!!!!!!!!!!
The Arrow Paradox and voting
What is our country’s favourite sport?:
(A) Hockey; (B)aseball (C) Feetball
Favorite drinks for Super Bowl Party?
(X) Wine (Y) Beer (Z) Soft drinks.
What is Canada’s Favorite political party?
(A) NDP; (B) Liberals; (C)onservatives
Suppose the results are: 33.3% A > B > C,
33.3% B > C > A, 33.3% C > A > B,
33.3% X > Y > Z, 33.3% Y > Z > X, 33.3% Z > X > Y,
33.3% A > B > C,
33.3% B > C > A,
33.3% C > A > B,
Note the similarity to ROCK , SCISSORS and PAPER
Security and Risk
‘Security is a vital need of the human soul’
‘Risk is a vital need of the human soul’
Do you see a paradox* in these two statements?
Do you see a contradiction in these two statements?
* “paradox” = “a seeming or apparent contradiction
2 types of Property
‘Private property is a vital need of the human soul’
Individual: my shirts, shoes and car*, your clothes, books, pens, computers [?],
ipods, ipads, and so on.
Collective: books in Brock library, the commons at Brock in fact all of Brock U is
collectively not privately owned
Notice Simone Weil is neither a pure laissez-faire capitalist defender as Ayn Rand is
but also not a socialist who wants individual property transferred to the state. The
main problem, not surprisingly, is MONEY: St. Paul [allegedly] said “Love of $$$$$$ is
the root of all evil”.
*actually I don’t own my car, I lease it but……..
Truth: the greatest need?
First 2 statements interesting but highly dubious. First is merely stated, the second is
empirically falsethe definition and attainability of truth have been furiously debated
in 20th century thought.
Now the rest makes many good points but it seems to assume that there are no laws
against slander and libel. Perhaps there were not in France in her lifetime; too bad if
that was true.
Summary: most important ideas
1. Individuals are more important than collectives.
2. Obligations are universal and based on needs.
3. Human nature is endowed with knowledge [consciousness] of natural law = our
obligations.
4. Freedom of opinion and freedom of association are two very different things.
5. Truth is the most sacred need.
Ayn Rand
Atheist: not that crucial to understanding her.
Egoist: absolutely crucial to understanding her.
Individualist: also crucial to understanding her.
Objectivism: chosen by her to describe her epistemology which is surprisingly good.
Utopian: there is a US presidential candidate Ron Paul who is libertarian and whose
son is called “Rand” they will probably win the presidency when hell freezes over or
the TML win the Stanley Cup.
Ayn Rand overview
KEY IDEAS
1. The Importance of Epistemology
2. The 3 Types of persons
3. A clear theory of human nature: Mostly positive we are not inherently evil BUT
4. Our default condition is ignorance AND
5. We have the power of volition to choose wrongly.
6. Bacon/Descartes Principle: “nature to be commanded, must be obeyed” [197] =
knowledge is power and allows us to control nature to benefit humanity [the optimist
view of human nature]
BASIC IDEA IS THAT: Makers are better that both Takers [Attila] and Fakers [Witch
Doctors].
The three Main Characters
1.
Attila
the Hun: Rules the bodies of men by force and fear
2. The Witch Doctor: Rules the souls of men by guilt and laws.
3. The Producer: Rules the minds of men by Reason. [she really means the
entrepreneur
]
What is mean by “Reason”?
As with Aristotle, reason is what distinguishes us from animals: (1) It involves Logic =
avoiding contradictions [200]
(2) It involves an epistemology going beyond merely animal experience
We share with animals
sensations
and
perceptions [197]
only humans have
conceptions
Appearance reality problem evaded
P 199 para 1: Rand condemns the [alleged] condemnation of ‘reason as a “limited”,
deceptive, unreliable, impotent faculty, incapable of perceiving the “real” reason and
the “true” truth; the split of man in two, setting his consciousness (his soul) against
his body, and his moral values against his own interests; the damnation of man’s
nature, body and self as evil, the commandment of self-sacrifice etc. but she never
explains the reasons philosophers give for why reason is limited and not sufficient to
justify all our beliefs, values and opinions.
Egoism/altruism problem evaded
Rand clearly denies that there is a conflict between our moral duties and self-interest
but ignores numerous types of such conflicts as well as the numerous examples
under each types of conflict
[198] “the lethal opposition of moral and practical” plus [199] “setting… moral values
against his own interests” as in: Gyges ring, the Prisoner’s Dilemma, the
Principal/Agent problem, the Free Rider problem and the Tragedy of the Commons.
Typical non-convexities
Gyges Ring,
The Prisoner’s Dilemma,
The Principal/Agent problem,
The Free Rider problem;
The Tragedy of the Commons
Moral Hazard
Market Failure
Individualism vs. egoism
The correct dichotomies are:
Individualism versus Collectivism
Egoism versus Altruism
NOT Individualism vs. Altruism
She seems to be misled by the Invisible Hand theory of Adam Smith: the self-interest
of baker, brewer, butcher and buyer makes society better off.
“We are all self-interested utility maximizersdoes not entail thatWe are always
selfish or greedy”.
The ultimate trichotomy
Libertarianism, Individualism, Egoism
There is little in this section about Ms. Rand’s most controversial idea: her radical
libertarianism
This is her most interesting idea which is despised by the politically correct ‘lefties’,
soft liberals, hard left and most conservatives as well.
Her main error is to associate it with egoism. Neither Libertarianism nor Individualism
can work without most people internalizing both kin and reciprocal altruism.
Wiel and Rand
Simone Weil
Ayn Rand
The soul is metaphysical and eternal.
I am my sibling’s keeper.
Rights and Duties [=Obligations] are based on Human Needs.
The soul is epistemological and mortal.
I am NOT my sibling’s keeper.
Rights and Duties [=Obligations] are based on self-interest and do not ever or
seldom conflict.
UQ CH. 8 Ethics and Meta-Ethics
Principles, Intuitions and Relativism
1. Principles and Rules;
First Principles and Derivative Principles
2. Intuition appears at 2 levels: (A) Elementary Moral Principles: Cruelty is wrong; (B)
First Principles: All Humans should have Equal Rights.
Two types of Relativism
Subjective Relativism
This seems to be the least plausible
Cultural Relativism
Relativism of any kind needs four different types of premises in order to be both
valid and sound
The 4 premises in support of CR
1. FACTUAL: There are significant differences between societies about moral right
and wrong, justice, virtue, vice and evil.
2. ONTOLOGICAL: There are no objective moral standards.
3. LOGICAL: There is a logical gap between sentences based on IS-claims and
sentences based on OUGHT-claims, between facts and values or between
PRESCRIPTIONS and DESCRIPTIONS
4. We have no way of EPISTEMOLOGICALLY or RATIONALLY JUSTIFYING moral
judgments on either empirical grounds or logically convincing arguments.
2 Possible types of Universal Values
1. The Golden Rule(s) is(are) found in almost all the world major and minor
religions.
2 VERSIONS: (1) Negative and positive : Do NOT do to others what you would not
want done to yourself.
(2) Do to others what you want done to yourself.
2. Universal Human Rights: from 1776 to 1948 there have been several declarations
of the Universal inalienable rights of MAN [= (HU)MAN(S)]
1776: Triad of such “INALIENABLE RIGHTS’
Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness [earlier in John Locke] property [and later
in US constitution].
Natural Law and Divine Law
4 TYPES OF LAW
1. Eternal Law
2. Divine Law [In the mind of God]
3. Natural Laws [In the mind of humans but discovered by Reason].
“Positive” Law = Human created law [normally legislated by Governments]
UTILITARIANISM
Original version was: “The greatest happiness of the Greatest number
Was based on a clear theory of Human Nature
All humans are motivated by desires to: (1) Avoid pain
(2) Acquire as much pleasure as possible.
“Happiness” = ‘pleasure’ minus ‘pain’
HAPPINESS, PLEASURE AND PAIN
Jeremy Bentham attempted to construct a Felicific Calculus
Based on 7 variables.
He argued that, since the good of each individual person consisted of maximizing
utility [=happiness], therefore the good of society as a whole is achieved by
maximizing utility for society, that is, choosing that act or policy that maximizes the
overall utility compared to all alternative possible acts or policies = LOGICAL FALLACY
OF COMPOSITION.
The CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVES
UNIVERSALIZABILITY
Act only according to the maxim whereby you can [at the same time] will that it
should become a universal law.
Substitute for [at the same time] “without self-contradiction.
AUTONOMY
Act in such a way that you treat humanity, …in your own person or …that of another,
always …as an end and never simply as a means”
= “Don’t use People [= Persons] as things, tools, machines or any other way as
means to an end ONLY.
J.S. Mill [both liberal and libertarian]
What is the difference between a liberal and libertarian? Dam good question!
Depending on one’s point of view you could say “A libertarian is one who takes liberal
principles to an extreme” OR you could say “A libertarian is one who uses liberal
principles in a logically consistent manner.
Libertarianism, Anarchism and Freedom
19th century Anarchism*
20th century Libertarianism
The Tao Te Ching
Freedom and Liberty: Are they the same?
* most prominent in Spain, Italy, France, Russia and USA. WHY?
MILL on Liberty [Ch. 1, 139-140]
This is a model of how to write an introductory paragraph or 2 [except that they
should be shorter!!].
He gets right to the point dogmatically stating his position [with many arguments to
come later].
Then he qualifies and clarifies it.
1. Right to the Point
1. One and only one principle can justify coercion against individuals: prevention of
harm to others*, i.e. self protection.
2. It is not justified for the good of the person coerced if only she is harmed.
3. It includes “moral coercion” [pubic opinion] as well as “physical force” [legal
penalties]
* emphasized because of point 2.
2. Qualifications and Clarifications
Clarifications: individual is sovereign over herown body and mind”*.
Qualifications: 1. Applies only to mature adults.
2. Applies only to modern progressive societies.
3. Does not imply Mill was racist: he was one of very few 19th century European
white males to advocate equal right regardless of “colour, race, class or gender.
* and so over their own opinions all of which go into determining “public opinion”!!!
4 principles of Social Control
1. Prevention of harm to others.
2. Prevention of harm to one’s self.
3. Welfare.
4. Prevention of harm to the Commons.
MILL on Utility [148-49]
This is neither a definition of the key term or a defense of it philosophically but an
attempt to show that making happiness a societal goal is not utopian, i.e. it is a
possible and reasonable goal.
It is an excellent example of an optimistic, maybe over-optimistic, post-Malthusian
view that rejects the Malthusian view that the problems of famine, poverty and
disease are permanently inevitable.
The Optimistic Agenda of Progress
1. The positive evils of the world are removable. [149L, penultimate sentence]
2. “Poverty… may be completely extinguished by the wisdom of society” [149L, final
sentence]
3. Disease “may be indefinitely reduced[149R, 3rd sentence] mostly due to:
4. The progress of science.
5. “The vicissitudes of fortune” are due to an interesting combination of factors: (p)
gross imprudence; (q) ill-regulated desires; (r) imperfect social institutions.
Utility and Human Nature [140-148]
Individuality: the most difficult part of Mill’s argument to understand for at least 2
reasons: he is very vague about examples for both sides of his argument: “Who or
what precisely are repressing individuality”? And;What examples of eccentricity
would he like to see?”.
So let’s switch to something much clearer: his theory of human nature!
What is Human Nature?
Human Nature is not a machine but a tree!! [142L, last line]
We are organisms not mechanisms.
We are like trees!! Why not like flowers in a garden?
Nature can and will produce better humans than exist now. [142L, penultimate line]
Human Nature is contradictory
1. Desires and impulses vs. beliefs and restraints
2. The raw material of HN capable of both “more evil, but certainly of more good” cf.
Jekyll and Hyde. [see next PP re Calvinism]
3. It is a weak conscience not strong desires that causes the problem.
Critique of the Calvinist Theory
Not named after your beloved professor or vice versa.
In GB it became known as “Puritanism” and was the dominant religion in Scotland.
The 2 things most people whether religious or not don’t like about it are: its
compatibilist theory of predestination and negative view of human nature: we are all
born as miserable sinners.
Pericles, John Knox, and Max Weber
Protestant asceticism allegedly was largely, [mainly, mostly, possibly?] responsible for
the triumph of “the spirit of capitalism”, which, according to Weber was NOT the spirit
of “greed is good” [Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko]
Pericles was the great leader of Athens in the marvellously creative 5th century BCE.
John Knox was the major leader of the Reformation in Scotland.
Speaking of Scotland: “A man’s a man for all that
Genius and individuality
GB had many great geniuses and writers in the 19th century including many great
female writers
They made great contributions to modern physics [Michael Faraday, James Clerk
Maxwell, Lord Kelvin, James Joule] atomic theory, modern logic and probability theory
[George Boole, Stanley Jevons] and economic theory [Marginal U theory -Jevons
again] to say nothing of Lewis Carroll the writer of Alice in Wonderland which is NOT
a children’s story but an introduction to logic for children!!
The Tyranny of Opinion
The great contradiction in Mill’s argument.
“human beings are not like sheep” [146] or cattle [145] so why do we act like them
then?
“The Tyranny of the Majority”
MILL on Human Nature
Diversity of Taste: a person may, with no blame, like or dislike “rowing, or smoking,
or music, or athletic exercises, or chess, or cards, or study’ but not because we
respect their right to do so.
There is no outlet for energy anymore except in business [147R, par. 2].
See however FN. 4 for excellent critique of how allegedly humane laws can be
abused!!!
Liberty, Progress and Improvement
1. Page 148L para 1: liberty vs. progressivism: the 20th century has thoroughly
vindicated Mill on this: almost all “progressive” parties, ideologies and movements
have been either very authoritarian or brutally totalitarian starting in 1917 and
continuing for 95 years.
2. “the progressive principle, … as love of liberty or of improvement…..= The
GREAT IDEOLOGICAL DICHOTOMY of the 20th-21th CENTURY and another paradox of
Human Nature.
3. Final sentence [almost] totally wrong
L.T. Hobhouse and contemporary Liberalism
Notice that he wrote this in 1911 the last year Wilfred Laurier was PM of Canada.
Laurier was an older liberal individualist in the Mill tradition.
The man who epitomizes Hobhouse type liberalism while implementing libertarian
reforms on the basis of Mill’s harm principle was P. E. Trudeau. A prominent NDP
leader dismissed Trudeau as a “John Stuart Mill liberal” but he was more like
Hobhouse in many ways.
Humboldt, Mill and Hobhouse
1. Humboldt is a classical liberal and therefore closer to modern libertarian thought.
The state generally screws up and make things worse not better.
2. Mill is a transitional figure between Humboldt and Hobhouse.
3. Hobhouse is an almost perfect representative of what passes for politically correct
liberalism today [without however the extremely annoying rhetoric and dogma of the
“politically correct”]
Hobhouse’s summary of Mill
KEY IDEAS
Complete Equality for Women
Reservations about: representative government, “the tyranny of the majority” [de
Toqueville] and democracy
He favored limitation of the family i.e. birth control.
Changing attitudes to proportional representation, socialism and limits on democracy
to protect minority rights [as did our own Sir John A. Macdonald]
The Heart of Liberalism [151-156]
Starts with what Liberalism is NOT
And a list of alleged types of tyranny
Tyranny and tolerance: main 2 points are that
(1)There are other threats to liberty besides government laws and repressive policies;
(2) Tolerance does not mean either acceptance or indifference to other opinions that
you disagree with.
Transition to The New Liberalism
1. 152R para 1: wants to extend liberalism from “a duty in religion and in politics” to
the “centre of our ethical conceptions”
2. Then offers a critique of Mill’s harm principle [Next very long par] based on his
view of human nature.
3. He starts by rejecting Mill’s key distinction based on “the older individualism
[which is now the new libertarian individualism].
Carlyle versus Mill
1. There are no pure self-regarding acts.
2. We are more than our acts and options.
3. The real person human is opaque, that is not accessible to other people fully.
4. Key Ideas: the essence of humanity lies deeper than distinction of rank class,
colour or sex;
The Myth of Solidarity
“The sense of ultimate oneness is the real meaning of Equality as it is the foundation
for social solidarity”.
But “Why is this a good thing” you ask?
Well maybe it isn’t but his answer is that it eliminates or mitigates or reduces the
force of intellectual, religious and ethical conflict.
Why is liberty good?
It is united with the idea of growth [153]
It is not so much a right as a necessity of society.
It is not laissez-faire: A wants B to let him be, live and let live. Rather is based on B’s
duty to treat A as a rational person.
It is not the sole foundation for society. Mutual aid is just as important.
The Organic View of Society
A thing is “organic” if “it is made up of parts which are quite distinct from one
another, but which are destroyed or vitally altered when they are removed from the
body”
Think of the human body itself!
Is human society like the human body or is it more like a machine?
Society and the Individual [154]
Rights and the common good
Very well logically constructed argument
If my [or yours or anyone else’s] claim(s) to a set of rights is valid it must appeal to a
principle that must satisfy the hypothetical impartial observer.
But the impartial observer has no reason to prefer any one person over another so
any set of principles adopted would have to benefit all or at lest most persons
effected.
Society and the Individual
Society however does not take any precedence over the Individual.
Society is NOT an entity over and above the individual but is composed solely of
individuals .
Relates this to older idea of a natural harmony of interests which leads him into the
abstract area of first principles and then to the key ideological dichotomy of the past
century: Equality versus Liberty.
Equality versus Liberty
Different types of equality [155L]
“The Older idea of equality”.
Equal rights under the law.
Equality of opportunity.
Equality of income and wealth.
Uses argument later used by Rawls: “What inequalities of income and wealth exist
should lead to the common good especially for those at the bottom of the economic
pyramid”.
Back to liberty [final para VI, 156]
He unites liberty both to human progress as well as human nature.
Human progress is not natural in one sense: the sense use in “a physical law is
natural” but it is natural in the sense that “
it is the expression of deep-seated forces
of human nature
which however work very slowly and are very cumbersome [he
says “an infinitely slow…process”].
The Heart of Liberalism
“Progress is not a matter of mechanical contrivance, but of the liberation of living
spiritual energy”.
What on earth does this mean?
One way to interpret it is as a contrast it to the idea of social engineering which
clearly does treat both society and the individual humans in it as machines that can
be tinkered with to improve them and create both better human beings and an ideal
society.
The State and the Individual [156-160]
‘Social liberty rests on restraint’ 157L
Mill himself pointed out how collective acts need not involve coercion: hospitals,
schools, parks, tramway [// streetcars, buses, subways] services,
Another interesting critique of Mill’s harm principle [157-58]
The limits of coercion
It is not possible to compel morality. [157]
But we can create conditions under which it can flourish.
We can compel moral behavior if outward conformity is desirable.
159 The New Liberal Distinction
Para 1: key distinction is not between coercive and non-coercive or self-regarding and
other regarding but between “control that cramps the personal life and the spiritual
order” [This is bad Hobson thinks] on the one hand and control aiming at creating
“external and material conditions of free and unimpeded development. This is very
good Hobson thinks.
Final para interesting argument for paternalism in strict sense: “treating adults as if
they were children”.
Reasons for state intervention
1. Market failure
2. Instability of financial and employment markets.
3. Taxation to benefit those unable to work.
Infrastructure, public goods, education, externalities.
Liberalism’s Fundamental contradiction[490]
“Modern liberalism suffers unresolved contradictions. It exalts individualism and
freedom and, on its radical wing, condemns social orders as repressive. On the other
hand, it expects government to provide materially for all, a feat manageable only by
an expansion of authority and a swollen bureaucracy. In other word, liberalism
defines government as tyrant father but demands that it behave as nuturant mother
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19/04/2012
3
Human Nature, Morality and Ideology
In the past two or three centuries debates about Human Nature have become
entangled with debates about morality and ideology
Simone Weil’s logic
The Need for Roots
Para 1 re: the relation of a right “to the obligation to which it corresponds”.
Suppose I say: “I have the right to life” and “You have no duty NOT to kill me” or
“You have the right to life” and “I have no duty NOT to kill you”? THIS IS A
NEGATIVE RIGHT [claim].
Suppose I say: “I have the right to life” and “You have no duty to feed me if I am
hungry” or “You have the right to life” and “I have no duty to feed you if I am hungry
[and I am able to do so] ”? THIS IS A POSITIVE RIGHT [claim].
Individuals and collectives
Two major theses:
1. “Only individuals have rights”;
2. “Only individuals have duties” so as a corollary
C “There are no obligations FOR collectives”; and C2 “There are no obligations TO
collectives”
What is the difference?
The rest of her essay about the needs of the soul.
Order
Two crucial points re: Order
(1) There is a “natural order of things” due to human nature having a moral sense
that makes us conscious of a universal, unique natural law binding on all humans
[184R, penultimate para]
(2) Needs should not be confused with “desires, fancies, or vices’ [183L] because
“needs are limited” [my emphasis]
Rules and Liberty
3 crucial points
(1) “Liberty consists in the ability to choose”
(2) Rules should be “stable, general and limited in number” [my emphasis]
(3) penultimate para., 185, 1 sentence re: “good will” and immaturity [= “remain
adolescent”]
Obedience
Obedience is a vital need of the human soul’
Key idea is two types of obedience equivalent to difference between rules and orders.
RULES: Do not cross on a red light.
Pay the taxes you owe by April. 30.
ORDERS: Bring me the file for Ms. Smith
Take this document to room 357.
Initiative and Responsibility
“to feel one is useful and even indispensable, are vital needs of the human soul” but
are they universal characteristics of all humans?
Both unemployment and certain types of jobs undermine such “a vital need” [186]
Egalité
‘Equality is a vital need of the human soul’
The most contentious issue in: modern political ideological disputes, theories of
human nature, issues in gender, race, ethnicity, IQ etc. etc. etc.
In the one and only Political Science course I ever did [The Nature and Role of
Political Ideologies] I recall reading a respected political scientist who wrote that “The
conservative belief about equality is that, except in an ultimate moral sense, it is not
true that all humans are equal.
Hierarchy and Honour as Needs?
‘Hierarchism is a vital need of the human soul’
Notice how this contradicts egalitarian sentiments BUT
1. Is it ‘True’?
2. Is it incompatible with a reasonable view of equality?
‘Honour is a vital need of the human soul’
2 types of Punishment
‘Punishment is a vital need of the human soul’
This may seem to be a very strange claim [except for sadists and masochists].
How can punishment be an honour?
We humans do use punishment?
Four for possible reasons:
1. Deterrence
2. Reform
3. Retribution [societal]
4. Revenge [personal]
Freedom of Opinion
States a principle just as strong as that of J.S. MilI
Intelligence in humans used in 3 different ways:
(1) Technical
(2) Ethical
(3) Theoretical
[190R para 2] qualifies absolute claims for freedom by interesting twist on Mill’s harm
principle
Two types of Associations
Interests
trade unions, professional unions, political parties
Ideas
Religious, eleemosynary, and intellectual associations and at least some political
parties
Has interesting criticism of role of political parties which she claims undermine
democracy!! [191R final 2 para.] She might be correct!!!!!!!!!!!
The Arrow Paradox and voting
What is our country’s favourite sport?:
(A) Hockey; (B)aseball (C) Feetball
Favorite drinks for Super Bowl Party?
(X) Wine (Y) Beer (Z) Soft drinks.
What is Canada’s Favorite political party?
(A) NDP; (B) Liberals; (C)onservatives
Suppose the results are: 33.3% A > B > C,
33.3% B > C > A, 33.3% C > A > B,
33.3% X > Y > Z, 33.3% Y > Z > X, 33.3% Z > X > Y,
33.3% A > B > C,
33.3% B > C > A,
33.3% C > A > B,
Note the similarity to ROCK , SCISSORS and PAPER
Security and Risk
‘Security is a vital need of the human soul’
‘Risk is a vital need of the human soul’
Do you see a paradox* in these two statements?
Do you see a contradiction in these two statements?
* “paradox = “a seeming or apparent contradiction
2 types of Property
‘Private property is a vital need of the human soul’
Individual: my shirts, shoes and car*, your clothes, books, pens, computers [?],
ipods, ipads, and so on.
Collective: books in Brock library, the commons at Brock in fact all of Brock U is
collectively not privately owned
Notice Simone Weil is neither a pure laissez-faire capitalist defender as Ayn Rand is
but also not a socialist who wants individual property transferred to the state. The
main problem, not surprisingly, is MONEY: St. Paul [allegedly] said “Love of $$$$$$ is
the root of all evil.
*actually I don’t own my car, I lease it but……..
Truth: the greatest need?
First 2 statements interesting but highly dubious. First is merely stated, the second is
empirically falsethe definition and attainability of truth have been furiously debated
in 20th century thought.
Now the rest makes many good points but it seems to assume that there are no laws
against slander and libel. Perhaps there were not in France in her lifetime; too bad if
that was true.
Summary: most important ideas
1. Individuals are more important than collectives.
2. Obligations are universal and based on needs.
3. Human nature is endowed with knowledge [consciousness] of natural law = our
obligations.
4. Freedom of opinion and freedom of association are two very different things.
5. Truth is the most sacred need.
Ayn Rand
Atheist: not that crucial to understanding her.
Egoist: absolutely crucial to understanding her.
Individualist: also crucial to understanding her.
Objectivism: chosen by her to describe her epistemology which is surprisingly good.
Utopian: there is a US presidential candidate Ron Paul who is libertarian and whose
son is called “Rand” they will probably win the presidency when hell freezes over or
the TML win the Stanley Cup.
Ayn Rand overview
KEY IDEAS
1. The Importance of Epistemology
2. The 3 Types of persons
3. A clear theory of human nature: Mostly positive we are not inherently evil BUT
4. Our default condition is ignorance AND
5. We have the power of volition to choose wrongly.
6. Bacon/Descartes Principle: “nature to be commanded, must be obeyed” [197] =
knowledge is power and allows us to control nature to benefit humanity [the optimist
view of human nature]
BASIC IDEA IS THAT: Makers are better that both Takers [Attila] and Fakers [Witch
Doctors].
The three Main Characters
1.
Attila
the Hun: Rules the bodies of men by force and fear
2. The Witch Doctor: Rules the souls of men by guilt and laws.
3. The Producer: Rules the minds of men by Reason. [she really means the
entrepreneur
]
What is mean by “Reason”?
As with Aristotle, reason is what distinguishes us from animals: (1) It involves Logic =
avoiding contradictions [200]
(2) It involves an epistemology going beyond merely animal experience
We share with animals
sensations
and
perceptions [197]
only humans have
conceptions
Appearance reality problem evaded
P 199 para 1: Rand condemns the [alleged] condemnation of ‘reason as a “limited”,
deceptive, unreliable, impotent faculty, incapable of perceiving the “real” reason and
the “true” truth; the split of man in two, setting his consciousness (his soul) against
his body, and his moral values against his own interests; the damnation of man’s
nature, body and self as evil, the commandment of self-sacrifice etc. but she never
explains the reasons philosophers give for why reason is limited and not sufficient to
justify all our beliefs, values and opinions.
Egoism/altruism problem evaded
Rand clearly denies that there is a conflict between our moral duties and self-interest
but ignores numerous types of such conflicts as well as the numerous examples
under each types of conflict
[198] “the lethal opposition of moral and practical” plus [199] “setting… moral values
against his own interests” as in: Gyges ring, the Prisoner’s Dilemma, the
Principal/Agent problem, the Free Rider problem and the Tragedy of the Commons.
Typical non-convexities
Gyges Ring,
The Prisoner’s Dilemma,
The Principal/Agent problem,
The Free Rider problem;
The Tragedy of the Commons
Moral Hazard
Market Failure
Individualism vs. egoism
The correct dichotomies are:
Individualism versus Collectivism
Egoism versus Altruism
NOT Individualism vs. Altruism
She seems to be misled by the Invisible Hand theory of Adam Smith: the self-interest
of baker, brewer, butcher and buyer makes society better off.
“We are all self-interested utility maximizersdoes not entail thatWe are always
selfish or greedy”.
The ultimate trichotomy
Libertarianism, Individualism, Egoism
There is little in this section about Ms. Rand’s most controversial idea: her radical
libertarianism
This is her most interesting idea which is despised by the politically correct ‘lefties’,
soft liberals, hard left and most conservatives as well.
Her main error is to associate it with egoism. Neither Libertarianism nor Individualism
can work without most people internalizing both kin and reciprocal altruism.
Wiel and Rand
Simone Weil
Ayn Rand
The soul is metaphysical and eternal.
I am my sibling’s keeper.
Rights and Duties [=Obligations] are based on Human Needs.
The soul is epistemological and mortal.
I am NOT my sibling’s keeper.
Rights and Duties [=Obligations] are based on self-interest and do not ever or
seldom conflict.
UQ CH. 8 Ethics and Meta-Ethics
Principles, Intuitions and Relativism
1. Principles and Rules;
First Principles and Derivative Principles
2. Intuition appears at 2 levels: (A) Elementary Moral Principles: Cruelty is wrong; (B)
First Principles: All Humans should have Equal Rights.
Two types of Relativism
Subjective Relativism
This seems to be the least plausible
Cultural Relativism
Relativism of any kind needs four different types of premises in order to be both
valid and sound
The 4 premises in support of CR
1. FACTUAL: There are significant differences between societies about moral right
and wrong, justice, virtue, vice and evil.
2. ONTOLOGICAL: There are no objective moral standards.
3. LOGICAL: There is a logical gap between sentences based on IS-claims and
sentences based on OUGHT-claims, between facts and values or between
PRESCRIPTIONS and DESCRIPTIONS
4. We have no way of EPISTEMOLOGICALLY or RATIONALLY JUSTIFYING moral
judgments on either empirical grounds or logically convincing arguments.
2 Possible types of Universal Values
1. The Golden Rule(s) is(are) found in almost all the world major and minor
religions.
2 VERSIONS: (1) Negative and positive : Do NOT do to others what you would not
want done to yourself.
(2) Do to others what you want done to yourself.
2. Universal Human Rights: from 1776 to 1948 there have been several declarations
of the Universal inalienable rights of MAN [= (HU)MAN(S)]
1776: Triad of such “INALIENABLE RIGHTS’
Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness [earlier in John Locke] property [and later
in US constitution].
Natural Law and Divine Law
4 TYPES OF LAW
1. Eternal Law
2. Divine Law [In the mind of God]
3. Natural Laws [In the mind of humans but discovered by Reason].
“Positive” Law = Human created law [normally legislated by Governments]
UTILITARIANISM
Original version was: “The greatest happiness of the Greatest number
Was based on a clear theory of Human Nature
All humans are motivated by desires to: (1) Avoid pain
(2) Acquire as much pleasure as possible.
“Happiness” = ‘pleasure’ minus ‘pain’
HAPPINESS, PLEASURE AND PAIN
Jeremy Bentham attempted to construct a Felicific Calculus
Based on 7 variables.
He argued that, since the good of each individual person consisted of maximizing
utility [=happiness], therefore the good of society as a whole is achieved by
maximizing utility for society, that is, choosing that act or policy that maximizes the
overall utility compared to all alternative possible acts or policies = LOGICAL FALLACY
OF COMPOSITION.
The CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVES
UNIVERSALIZABILITY
Act only according to the maxim whereby you can [at the same time] will that it
should become a universal law.
Substitute for [at the same time] “without self-contradiction.
AUTONOMY
Act in such a way that you treat humanity, …in your own person or …that of another,
always …as an end and never simply as a means”
= “Don’t use People [= Persons] as things, tools, machines or any other way as
means to an end ONLY.
J.S. Mill [both liberal and libertarian]
What is the difference between a liberal and libertarian? Dam good question!
Depending on one’s point of view you could say “A libertarian is one who takes liberal
principles to an extreme” OR you could say “A libertarian is one who uses liberal
principles in a logically consistent manner.
Libertarianism, Anarchism and Freedom
19th century Anarchism*
20th century Libertarianism
The Tao Te Ching
Freedom and Liberty: Are they the same?
* most prominent in Spain, Italy, France, Russia and USA. WHY?
MILL on Liberty [Ch. 1, 139-140]
This is a model of how to write an introductory paragraph or 2 [except that they
should be shorter!!].
He gets right to the point dogmatically stating his position [with many arguments to
come later].
Then he qualifies and clarifies it.
1. Right to the Point
1. One and only one principle can justify coercion against individuals: prevention of
harm to others*, i.e. self protection.
2. It is not justified for the good of the person coerced if only she is harmed.
3. It includes “moral coercion” [pubic opinion] as well as “physical force” [legal
penalties]
* emphasized because of point 2.
2. Qualifications and Clarifications
Clarifications: individual is sovereign over herown body and mind”*.
Qualifications: 1. Applies only to mature adults.
2. Applies only to modern progressive societies.
3. Does not imply Mill was racist: he was one of very few 19th century European
white males to advocate equal right regardless of “colour, race, class or gender.
* and so over their own opinions all of which go into determining “public opinion”!!!
4 principles of Social Control
1. Prevention of harm to others.
2. Prevention of harm to one’s self.
3. Welfare.
4. Prevention of harm to the Commons.
MILL on Utility [148-49]
This is neither a definition of the key term or a defense of it philosophically but an
attempt to show that making happiness a societal goal is not utopian, i.e. it is a
possible and reasonable goal.
It is an excellent example of an optimistic, maybe over-optimistic, post-Malthusian
view that rejects the Malthusian view that the problems of famine, poverty and
disease are permanently inevitable.
The Optimistic Agenda of Progress
1. The positive evils of the world are removable. [149L, penultimate sentence]
2. “Poverty… may be completely extinguished by the wisdom of society” [149L, final
sentence]
3. Disease “may be indefinitely reduced[149R, 3rd sentence] mostly due to:
4. The progress of science.
5. “The vicissitudes of fortune” are due to an interesting combination of factors: (p)
gross imprudence; (q) ill-regulated desires; (r) imperfect social institutions.
Utility and Human Nature [140-148]
Individuality: the most difficult part of Mill’s argument to understand for at least 2
reasons: he is very vague about examples for both sides of his argument:Who or
what precisely are repressing individuality”? And;What examples of eccentricity
would he like to see?”.
So let’s switch to something much clearer: his theory of human nature!
What is Human Nature?
Human Nature is not a machine but a tree!! [142L, last line]
We are organisms not mechanisms.
We are like trees!! Why not like flowers in a garden?
Nature can and will produce better humans than exist now. [142L, penultimate line]
Human Nature is contradictory
1. Desires and impulses vs. beliefs and restraints
2. The raw material of HN capable of both “more evil, but certainly of more good” cf.
Jekyll and Hyde. [see next PP re Calvinism]
3. It is a weak conscience not strong desires that causes the problem.
Critique of the Calvinist Theory
Not named after your beloved professor or vice versa.
In GB it became known as “Puritanismand was the dominant religion in Scotland.
The 2 things most people whether religious or not don’t like about it are: its
compatibilist theory of predestination and negative view of human nature: we are all
born as miserable sinners.
Pericles, John Knox, and Max Weber
Protestant asceticism allegedly was largely, [mainly, mostly, possibly?] responsible for
the triumph of “the spirit of capitalism”, which, according to Weber was NOT the spirit
of “greed is good” [Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko]
Pericles was the great leader of Athens in the marvellously creative 5th century BCE.
John Knox was the major leader of the Reformation in Scotland.
Speaking of Scotland: “A man’s a man for all that
Genius and individuality
GB had many great geniuses and writers in the 19th century including many great
female writers
They made great contributions to modern physics [Michael Faraday, James Clerk
Maxwell, Lord Kelvin, James Joule] atomic theory, modern logic and probability theory
[George Boole, Stanley Jevons] and economic theory [Marginal U theory -Jevons
again] to say nothing of Lewis Carroll the writer of Alice in Wonderland which is NOT
a children’s story but an introduction to logic for children!!
The Tyranny of Opinion
The great contradiction in Mill’s argument.
“human beings are not like sheep” [146] or cattle [145] so why do we act like them
then?
“The Tyranny of the Majority”
MILL on Human Nature
Diversity of Taste: a person may, with no blame, like or dislike “rowing, or smoking,
or music, or athletic exercises, or chess, or cards, or study’ but not because we
respect their right to do so.
There is no outlet for energy anymore except in business [147R, par. 2].
See however FN. 4 for excellent critique of how allegedly humane laws can be
abused!!!
Liberty, Progress and Improvement
1. Page 148L para 1: liberty vs. progressivism: the 20th century has thoroughly
vindicated Mill on this: almost all “progressive” parties, ideologies and movements
have been either very authoritarian or brutally totalitarian starting in 1917 and
continuing for 95 years.
2. “the progressive principle, … as love of liberty or of improvement…..= The
GREAT IDEOLOGICAL DICHOTOMY of the 20th-21th CENTURY and another paradox of
Human Nature.
3. Final sentence [almost] totally wrong
L.T. Hobhouse and contemporary Liberalism
Notice that he wrote this in 1911 the last year Wilfred Laurier was PM of Canada.
Laurier was an older liberal individualist in the Mill tradition.
The man who epitomizes Hobhouse type liberalism while implementing libertarian
reforms on the basis of Mill’s harm principle was P. E. Trudeau. A prominent NDP
leader dismissed Trudeau as a “John Stuart Mill liberal” but he was more like
Hobhouse in many ways.
Humboldt, Mill and Hobhouse
1. Humboldt is a classical liberal and therefore closer to modern libertarian thought.
The state generally screws up and make things worse not better.
2. Mill is a transitional figure between Humboldt and Hobhouse.
3. Hobhouse is an almost perfect representative of what passes for politically correct
liberalism today [without however the extremely annoying rhetoric and dogma of the
“politically correct”]
Hobhouse’s summary of Mill
KEY IDEAS
Complete Equality for Women
Reservations about: representative government, “the tyranny of the majority” [de
Toqueville] and democracy
He favored limitation of the family i.e. birth control.
Changing attitudes to proportional representation, socialism and limits on democracy
to protect minority rights [as did our own Sir John A. Macdonald]
The Heart of Liberalism [151-156]
Starts with what Liberalism is NOT
And a list of alleged types of tyranny
Tyranny and tolerance: main 2 points are that
(1)There are other threats to liberty besides government laws and repressive policies;
(2) Tolerance does not mean either acceptance or indifference to other opinions that
you disagree with.
Transition to The New Liberalism
1. 152R para 1: wants to extend liberalism from “a duty in religion and in politics” to
the “centre of our ethical conceptions”
2. Then offers a critique of Mill’s harm principle [Next very long par] based on his
view of human nature.
3. He starts by rejecting Mill’s key distinction based on “the older individualism
[which is now the new libertarian individualism].
Carlyle versus Mill
1. There are no pure self-regarding acts.
2. We are more than our acts and options.
3. The real person human is opaque, that is not accessible to other people fully.
4. Key Ideas: the essence of humanity lies deeper than distinction of rank class,
colour or sex;
The Myth of Solidarity
“The sense of ultimate oneness is the real meaning of Equality as it is the foundation
for social solidarity”.
But “Why is this a good thing” you ask?
Well maybe it isn’t but his answer is that it eliminates or mitigates or reduces the
force of intellectual, religious and ethical conflict.
Why is liberty good?
It is united with the idea of growth [153]
It is not so much a right as a necessity of society.
It is not laissez-faire: A wants B to let him be, live and let live. Rather is based on B’s
duty to treat A as a rational person.
It is not the sole foundation for society. Mutual aid is just as important.
The Organic View of Society
A thing is “organic” if “it is made up of parts which are quite distinct from one
another, but which are destroyed or vitally altered when they are removed from the
body”
Think of the human body itself!
Is human society like the human body or is it more like a machine?
Society and the Individual [154]
Rights and the common good
Very well logically constructed argument
If my [or yours or anyone else’s] claim(s) to a set of rights is valid it must appeal to a
principle that must satisfy the hypothetical impartial observer.
But the impartial observer has no reason to prefer any one person over another so
any set of principles adopted would have to benefit all or at lest most persons
effected.
Society and the Individual
Society however does not take any precedence over the Individual.
Society is NOT an entity over and above the individual but is composed solely of
individuals .
Relates this to older idea of a natural harmony of interests which leads him into the
abstract area of first principles and then to the key ideological dichotomy of the past
century: Equality versus Liberty.
Equality versus Liberty
Different types of equality [155L]
“The Older idea of equality”.
Equal rights under the law.
Equality of opportunity.
Equality of income and wealth.
Uses argument later used by Rawls: “What inequalities of income and wealth exist
should lead to the common good especially for those at the bottom of the economic
pyramid”.
Back to liberty [final para VI, 156]
He unites liberty both to human progress as well as human nature.
Human progress is not natural in one sense: the sense use in “a physical law is
natural” but it is natural in the sense that
it is the expression of deep-seated forces
of human nature
which however work very slowly and are very cumbersome [he
says “an infinitely slow…process”].
The Heart of Liberalism
“Progress is not a matter of mechanical contrivance, but of the liberation of living
spiritual energy”.
What on earth does this mean?
One way to interpret it is as a contrast it to the idea of social engineering which
clearly does treat both society and the individual humans in it as machines that can
be tinkered with to improve them and create both better human beings and an ideal
society.
The State and the Individual [156-160]
‘Social liberty rests on restraint’ 157L
Mill himself pointed out how collective acts need not involve coercion: hospitals,
schools, parks, tramway [// streetcars, buses, subways] services,
Another interesting critique of Mill’s harm principle [157-58]
The limits of coercion
It is not possible to compel morality. [157]
But we can create conditions under which it can flourish.
We can compel moral behavior if outward conformity is desirable.
159 The New Liberal Distinction
Para 1: key distinction is not between coercive and non-coercive or self-regarding and
other regarding but between “control that cramps the personal life and the spiritual
order” [This is bad Hobson thinks] on the one hand and control aiming at creating
“external and material conditions of free and unimpeded development. This is very
good Hobson thinks.
Final para interesting argument for paternalism in strict sense: “treating adults as if
they were children”.
Reasons for state intervention
1. Market failure
2. Instability of financial and employment markets.
3. Taxation to benefit those unable to work.
Infrastructure, public goods, education, externalities.
Liberalism’s Fundamental contradiction[490]
“Modern liberalism suffers unresolved contradictions. It exalts individualism and
freedom and, on its radical wing, condemns social orders as repressive. On the other
hand, it expects government to provide materially for all, a feat manageable only by
an expansion of authority and a swollen bureaucracy. In other word, liberalism
defines government as tyrant father but demands that it behave as nuturant mother
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