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hobbes lecture notes

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Department
Philosophy
Course
Philosophy 2070E
Professor
T A
Semester
Fall

Description
HOBBES LECTURE NOTES 1588-1679 Wrote during the time of the English Civil War – conflict between royal and parliamentary forces. The political strife was a cause for great concern. Hobbes’s work can be viewed as a solution to the destruction of society caused by competition and conflict between such powerful forces: Hobbes’s solution – the conformity of all wills to the will of a solitary political body. • State of nature as a hypothetical construct or thought experiment, intended to reveal the conditions of humanity outside of civil government: To understand or justify why we have something, sometimes it is appropriate to consider its absence a) The purpose is to provide a justification for government and the kind of government based upon necessity due to the natural condition of persons, whereby there is no industry or technology, arts, science: where Hobbes famously says “the life of man: solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” b) But justification, seemingly, is not exhausted by necessity… contracting government, voluntarily entered into, plays a significant role in Hobbes account of the justification of government – social contract theory • Natural condition of person: Each pursues felicity or the satisfaction of their desires. a) Persons are desiring machines – desires/fear appetite/aversion as the catalyst for all intentional action • Right of Nature: Each person has the right to all things that they deem necessary for their preservation and the right to and use of any means towards such and end. • Natural equality – physical and mental equality – no one person naturally superior that he/she does not need to fear others a) Equality among persons is a descriptive claim (contrast with prescriptive claim about how we should treat persons) b) As we will see, with the 9 law of nature, Hobbes speaks of acknowledging the natural equality of persons. This is a prescriptive claim; a prescription of reason (a moral claim towards peace). The moral status of persons, however, derives not from any natural condition, i.e. not from their statuses as persons, but only from reason’s prescriptions that tend towards peace and self-preservation. • Competition, diffidence [distrust], and glory as the basis for conflict a) competition: scarcity of good necessary for survival b) distrust: recognition that other persons have a right to all things as well c) vain glory: to gain reputation • The state of nature is a state of war – a perpetual state when every person seeks to fulfill their own interests, governed by their own judgment of what is required towards that end. a) Recall for Hobbes, war is not merely conflict, but the possibility of conflict. 1 | P a g e b) Weather analogy c) Nothing is just or unjust in the state of nature • Exit the state of nature is possible via a combination of particular passions (fear of death and the hope for commodious living) and reason (the acknowledgment of laws of nature) a) Exit from the state of nature must be possible by virtue of natural qualities of persons b) As we will see, there may be a problem regarding the exit… • Law(s) of Nature: the natural condition of persons has each of them governed by their own passions, desires and appetites, but persons are also governed by natural reason, and the laws of nature are dictates of reason, where the end or goal of reason is self- preservation. st 1 Law: seek peace when possible - use all the advantages of war when peace is not possible. 2 Law: be willing to lay down one’s right to all things insofar as others are willing to as well a) To lay down one’s right to all things is to renounce that right or transfer that right b) Some rights or element of the right to all things persons cannot transfer or renounce: the right to protect themselves c) Mutual contract among persons regarding the renouncement or transfer of right to all things – persons make a contract amongst themselves to limit one’s own liberty (or right to all things) insofar and as much as every other person is willing to limit their own rd 3 Law: perform covenants made • Mutual Contract Contracts entail Covenants: Covenant is a promise to remain faithful to the voluntary contract – the mutual contract – to renouncement (or self-imposed limitation) of the right to all things • Origin or foundation of Justice – but note that although covenants/contracts made in the state of nature as a mean to exit such a state provides the foundation of justice/injustice, to break a covenant in the state of nature is not to perpetrate an injustice – see below, that without assurance that others will comply with the laws of nature or perform covenants, one is not obligated to comply or perform: the reason being is that persons are not obligated to, and are forbidden against, doing that which is contrary to their own preservation. a) To keep covenants is just, to break covenants is unjust b) But, there is a difficulty… Prisoner’s Dilemma… other defects other performs you defect 4 10 you perform 0 7 2 | P a g e The best outcome is where the other performs their duty but you do not: second best outcome where you both perform your duty: second worst outcome is where neither perform your duty: the worst outcome is where you perform you duty and the other person does not: Caveat: the other person know your ranking of outcomes and has the same ranking: the rational outcome will be that you both do not perform your duty: But how can it be rational to do the action that is third best, or second last? Seems that it is rational to defect from contracts: if we mutually promise to help each other, say, harvest our crops, we come across a dilemma: to keep or not to keep covenants? • Obligation or Duty to the Laws of Nature or Reason: Reason dictates us to seek peace and perform covenants made, but it seems irrational a) To be the first to perform an act required by the covenant – one would be a sucker! b) To perform an act required by the covenant after the other person performed their act would be irrational – one would be a jerk, but a happy jerk with lots of food and spare time… Hobbes resolution of the apparent tension between dictates of reasons: • Laws of Nature Oblige always inforo interno (in the internal forum or in one’s conscience), but not always inforo externo (in the external forum or in actuality) a) We should all desire that the laws of nature take effect, but that there are circumstances where we should not obey them… when it would be irrational to obey them b) Covenants are invalid absent the security to enforce the performance of covenants 14/18 or 17/1&2 Almost there, but we have come to an impasse: • Hobbes’s Solution: Mutually Institute a political body with the power, via the fear of punishment, to collapse inforo interno obligation into infor externo obligation. Make it the case where one desires that the laws of nature take effect and that it would be rational to obey them on each and every occasion. a) The laws of nature are (essentially) converted into civil laws… b) The benefit gaine
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