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Philosophy 1B03.docx

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McMaster University
Stefan Rodde

Philosophy 1B03 1/9/2013 12:18:00 PM John Stuart Mil  Conception of Liberty  Raises two questions o Why should individual liberty be respected? o Why does harm to others provide a legitimate reason for restricting a persons liberty?  Why is it necessary?  Why is it sufficient? Utility and Utilitarianism  Utility: the property which attaches to anything which contributes to pleasure and the privation of pain  Disutility: the property which attaches to anything that promotes pain and deprives us of pleasure  Utility/disutility is not restricted to physical pleasure  An action which tends to maximize overall utility or minimize overall disutility is right o Greatest good for the greatest number  Is there tension between Mills utilitarianism and his views on liberty? o On liberty: never restrict liberty except to prevent harm  But what if restricting liberty maximizes utility?  Restricting liberty could maximize utility (ie make wearing bike helmets mandatory) o On liberty: do not harm others  But what if harming another person maximizes utility?  Higher and Lower Pleasures o Although all pleasure are good, they are not equally good  Lower pleasures: pleasures of sensation  Higher pleasures: pleasures of the intellect  Higher pleasures are superior, developed, cant be forced, have to come from within o You cannot force someone to experience higher pleasure  It is ultimately up to the individual to cultivate a taste for the higher pleasures o Respecting individual liberty gives everyone the opportunity to cultivate a taste for these pleasures o One of the higher pleasures which humans ought to develop is the pleasure of thinking about and living our own lives  Liberty is essential for self development January 14, 2013 LIBERTY  The only legitimate grounds for restricting liberty is to prevent harm from coming to another o This position is justified by utility  What is liberty? o Negative: absence of external constraint o Positive: presence of opportunities for choice (EG retiring at 65) o Increasing the one tends to decrease the other (negative and positive liberty)- example: speed limits in residential areas  Promote negative liberty by resisting you to drive faster  Promotes positive liberty for others by creating a safer environment UTILITY  The property which attaches to anything which contributes to pleasure and the privation of pain Tension between Mill’s utilitarianism and his views on liberty (refer to last week) Mill and Liberty  Mill is mainly concerned about negative liberty o The cultivation of the taste for the higher pleasures requires opportunity and education, wealth and leisure o What about equality? Negative Liberty  Unrestricted negative liberty will produce inequality o Nevertheless, this kind of liberty is essential if society is to improve and progress Tyranny of the Majority  The majority imposes its views on the minority o This can be a problem in the political realm (democracy) or the social realm (public opinion) Freedom of Expression  The majority should not stifle the expression of minority views o If those views are true, we will ever find out if we don’t let the minority speak o If those views are false, majority loses opportunity to defend and strengthen its position Freedom of Action  Majority should not restrict the lifestyle of choices of the minority (as long as it does not harm others) Engagement  What attitude should the majority take to minority opinions/ actions? o The majority ought to engage with the opinion/actions of the minority January 16, 2013 1/9/2013 12:18:00 PM John Rawls (1921-2002) Justice  Giving people what they are due o Retributive: punishment o Compensatory: compensation for wrongs o Distributive: distribution of resources  How should the benefits and burdens of social living be distributed? o Benefits: community, collaboration, protection o Burdens: competition/oppression Social Contract:  A hypothetical agreement concerning how the benefits and burdens of social living should be distributed  Problem?: if the social contract is hypothetical, what use is it? o The social contract lays out the principles which human beings should agree to o The contracts people make tend to be a function of the condition that they are in when they make the contract Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)  State of nature: a war of all against all in which life is nasty, brutish and short Original Position:  If the original position is hypothetical, how do we pick and justify it? o It is selected on moral grounds and justified intuitively  Rawls presents the original position and you have to decide for yourself whether it is a good starting position for creating a social contract  For the social contract to be fair, the original position of each of the participants must be equal  How do we ensure that all of the participants in the original position are equal? o Veil of ignorance  Imagine that each of the parties of the social contract has a representative that works out the agreement with other representatives , these representatives are ideal  The representatives know that they are representing people. They know:  General facts about human life  That people have different interests, beliefs etc  Society is under conditions of moderate scarcity  They do not know any particulars about the person that they represent  Race, gender, age, wealth, skills, religion etc o Original position  So what sort of principles will representatives operating behind the veil of ignorance agree to?  Principles that benefit everyone equally (fair) January 21, 2012 Principles  According to Rawls, the representatives would agree to the following principles o Equal liberty principle  Each person is to have equal right to the most extensive system of total basic liberties compatible with the same amount of liberty for everyone else  Political liberty, freedom of speech and assembly, etc.  The ELP has two implications  Basic rights and liberties cannot be traded off for other social benefits  Political liberties should be open to all in a substantial sense o The Difference Principle  Social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that:  They are to the greatest advantage to the least advantaged  They are attached to offices and positions which are open to all under conditions of fair equality of opportunity Justice  The ELP is more fundamental than the TDP o ELP: inequality is not permissible with regard to basic rights and liberties o TDP: inequality is permitted with other social goods under certain conditions  Injustice occurs when we violate one or both of these principles Rawls and Affirmative Action Types:  Formal equality of opportunity o Eg ending segregation  Aggressive equality of opportunity  Compensation support  Soft quotas  Hard quotas January 23, 2013 1/9/2013 12:18:00 PM 67Civil Disobedience and The Law Breaking the Law  Why do people disobey the law? o Immediate personal gain; because they believe they will benefit from it o Desperation; starving (steal in order to have food) o Because they think the law is unjust o Because they think that an unjust law has been misapplied  Plato: “respect for the law must be absolute” Plato (424-328 BCE) Socrates (469-399 BCE) Crito  Tried to convince Socrates that breaking out of prison is the “right” thing to do Why Socrates should escape?  If Socrates doesn’t escape; o Crito will lose a valuable friend o Crito’s reputation will be tarnished o Socrates’ enemies will be pleased o Socrates’ sons will be orphans Moral Ground Rules  Socrates will only be swayed by argument  The only type of argument that Socrates will accept is one that shows escaping is the right thing to do Principle of Non-Maleficence  We ought not to inflict harm on another  Premise 1: If Socrates escapes from prison, he will harm city by undermining its laws  Premise 2: A person should not inflict harm  Conclusion: Socrates should not escape Is this a good argument?  Perhaps principle is not genuine  Perhaps principle is misapplied to this case  Perhaps law-breaking does not ultimately harm the city Principle of Fidelity  We should abide by our agreements entered into without deceit or compulsion  Premise 1: the fact that Socrates remained I city and did not challenge laws constitutes an agreement to abide by its laws  Premise 2: we ought to abide by our agreements  Premise 3: if Socrates escapes from prison, he will reak the law  Conclusion: Socrates should not escape from prison Fidelity Argument  Is this a good argument? o It may not be fair Principle of Filial Piety  We ought to obey our parents and guardians  Premise 1: the relationship between a state and a citizen is similar to the relationship between a parent and a child  Premise 2: a child ought to obey his/her parents  Conclusion: a citizen ought to obey the state February 11, 2013 1/9/2013 12:18:00 PM University Speech Codes Skokie vs Nazi part of America  Supreme court ruled that Nazis could hold march and display swastika in Jewish village Charles Lawrence  Favours speech code  Goals o Show that speech codes are consistent with the first amendment o Show that speech codes are desirable  Speech codes are legal: o Brown vs board of education o Chaplinsky vs NH (New Hampshire) o Civil rights act, (1964)  Speech codes are desirable: o Racist speech inflicts real psychic harm on its victims o RS prevents minorities from receiving an equal educational opportunity to that of the majority o RS does not promote the discussion or exchange or ideas Canadian Charter Section 1  The Canadian charter of rights and freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society o Hate speech laws are constitutional Anti Speech Code Dworkin: having rights vs doing what is right  If A had a right to do x, then it is wrong to prevent A from doing X  If A is doing what is right, then they are doing what they ought to do John Stewart Mill Utility and Utilitarianism  An action which tends to maximize overall utility or minimize overall disutility is right o Greatest good for the greatest number Liberty  Respect for liberty must nearly absolute o The oly legitimate grounds for restricting liberty is to prevent harm from coming to another  Individual must be protected from state power  Individual must be protected against majority opinion Suppression of Opinions  A suppressed opinion could be true, falst or partly true or partly false o In vitually all situations it is better to let the opinion be expressed rather than it be suppressed  True opinions o We should not suppress true opinions that we disagree with  Suppressing opinion denies us opportunity to exchange error for truth  Suppressing opinion reinforces (false) view that we are infallible  False opinions o We should not suppress false opinions that we disagree with  Suppressing opinion reinforces (false) view that we are infallible  Every time we expose the fals
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