Political Science 1020E Lecture Notes - Jeremy Bentham, Homo Economicus, Appeasement
Course CodePolitical Science 1020E
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 = 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
Obstacles to leaving: poverty culture, language, other states
If there are obstacles to leaving, then it is not morally equivalent
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.
•“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
•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
•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
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: Hard-Headed – IF IT MAXIMIZES HAPPINESS, BE MACHAVALIAN
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