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Political Science 1020E Lecture Notes - Jeremy Bentham, Homo Economicus, Appeasement

Political Science
Course Code
Political Science 1020E
Charles Jones

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Wolff says that political obligation is:
States obligation to coexist with other states
Obligation to obey the law because it’s the law
Easier to justify after smoking weed
Are there universal political obligations?
Voluntarism: states political authority depends on my consent
1. Express consent
2. Tacit consent
3. Hypothetical consent
Tacit Consent
Tacit = Implicit or Understood
Do we tacitly or implicitly consent to the states author over us?
Is there something that is morally equivalent to consenting?
Does residence count?
oStaying is morally equivalent to consenting, because if you hate it, you
can leave
Obstacles to leaving: poverty culture, language, other states
If there are obstacles to leaving, then it is not morally equivalent
to consent
Hypothetical Consent: 1
Rational individuals would consent is they were in the state of nature
Objection: hypothetical consent is not actual consent
Non-Voluntarism: worthy of consent
Hypothetical Consent: 2
Voluntarism: hypothetical consent gets us to realize what we already consent
Objection: it’s not really consent, because we aren’t aware
Objection 2: some may refuse to consent.
Anarchism Revisited
“I didn’t, and I wouldn’t consent, so the state in illegitimate
Correct to reject blind obedience
But, people disagree about the justice of the laws
Locke’s point
There are two options available
1. A publically agreed, shared set of laws
2. Defer to private judgments about the content of laws (anarchism)
Better to have shared laws than continued disagreement
The “inconveniencies” of the state of nature defeat anarchism
Utilitarianism – Jeremy Bentham (1748 – 1832)
The good and the right
The right action is the one that maximizes utility (good)
Utility = happiness, well-being
Utilitarianism and Political Obligation
Obey the law IF AND ONLY IF doing do will produce greater happiness than
Objection: this is a law-breakers charter
Indirect Utilitarianism
Don’t justify particular actions by appeal to utility-promotion
Well0being is maximized by each of us obeying the laws
Three parts of Utilitarianism
1. Theory of the good (happiness)
2. Commitment to equal concern
3. Requirement of maximization
Why Utilitarianism?
Human Happiness
Impartial Concern
Consequential Society
Objections to Utilitarianism
1. Too Demanding: Asks to much
Is it too demanding?
oDirect Utilitarianism: YES
oIndirect (Partial) Utilitarianism: Not Necessarily
2. Too Permissive: Allows too much
Is it too permissive?
oCan require injustice i.e. Torture, slavery, conviction of the innocent
oReply 2: Appeasement – BE MORAL
3. General objection
oIt fails to explain why actions are morally right or wrong
oIt can get the right answer, but not for the right reason
Is Happiness the ONLY thing that matters?
The Pleasure Machine
oWould you plug in?
The experience machine