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PHL lecture, jan. 17.doc

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Peter King

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Leviathan 3: Justice and Agreements • Recall Hobbes’s conclusion, that the State of Nature has the logical structure of a one-shot Prisoner’s Dilemma, so that the dominant outcome (the war of all against all) is reached, rather than the Pareto-optimal outcome, even though it’s clear that the dominant outcome is suboptimal • The requirement that the State of Nature be “one-shot” contrasts with three possible alternatives: o (a) Finitely many repeated iterations  There is an incentive to not cooperate in the last game for each, which leads the opponent to not cooperate in the next-to-last game, and so on  Nothing is gained by considering a finite number of known (or likely) repetitions o (b) Infinitely many repeated iterations  There are cooperative solutions-for instance, adopting a “tit-for- tat” strategy-but it is unrealistic o (c) Indefinitely many repeated iterations  Matters are less clear  If we see it as being a variation of (a) in which the determinate number of iterations is not known, then we can treat each iteration as having some probability of its being the last,  Rules out coalitions • The requirement that the State of Nature be a Prisoner’s Dilemma is crucial o An alternative reading of Hobbes that preserves most of his reasoning is to take instead as an Assurance Game whose payoff matrix is: Cooperate Defect Cooperate 3, 3 0, 2 Defect 2, 0 1, 1 o Here there is no dominant strategy:  Each prefers to do what the other does, although one such symmetrical outcome is “payoff-dominant”  (Mutual cooperation)  Whereas the other is “risk-dominant”  (Mutual defection) Hobbes vs. the Foole • Hobbes’s Foole revives Glaucon’s challenge (14.4): o Why keep agreements, when it seems to be to one’s advantage to break them?  Key worry in overcoming a Prisoner’s Dilemma, or even in ensuring cooperation in an Assurance Game • Hobbes’s argues as follows (14.5) o It is irrational for anyone to do something that, as far as can be foreseen, “tends to his own destruction”  Even if an unexpected chance should save him o If there is an agency in place to enforce agreements, then anyone can reasonably expect noncompliance to be punished, and not to escape the consequences o Hence it is rational to keep agreements in civil society  i.e. where there is a government as enforcement agency o There is no such enforcement agency in the State of Nature o An agreement requires either simultaneous performance or one of the parties to go first o If the performance is simultaneous, then even in the State of Nature it is rational to keep it if it is rational to make the agreement in the first place, since the reasons for the one are the reasons for the other o If the other party has already done whatever was required on his side by the agreement then even in the State of Nature it is rational for you to keep your part of the agreement now. Proof:  In the State of Nature, each person needs “the help of confederates” to survive, since without them any two (or more) others can overcome him  Anyone who fails to keep an agreement-where it is obvious to all that the other party has kept the agreement already-is thereby known to be untrustworthy • i.e. an agreement-breaker  Hence no one rationally enters into any kind of agreement with an agreement-breaker, since there is no reason to think that an agreement-breaker will break an agreement  Hence an agreement-breaker can reasonably expect not to have any ‘confederates’ in the State of Nature  Therefore: It is rational to keep the agreements you have made
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