Political Science 1020E
September 10 2009
Professor Nigmendra Narain: 519-860-3290
The Relevance of Politics - CNN Video Presidential Scholars
1. Human Rights and torture – Politics is about power, not the preservation of human
rights. Difficult decisions must be made in difficult circumstances. Politics is about
protecting individuals, there is a controversy over whether or not people have
2. Democratic Accountability – one side is to trust our elected officials completely. The
other is that we are the state, and we must hold our representatives accountable for
3. Political Decisions have Consequences - consequences for the victims of torture,
and implications for the population and government who support the acts of
tortures. Bad reputations are created and P.R. is decreased.
Two Central Questions of Politics
1. Who gets What? Economic inequalities, can it be justified?
2. Who gets to Decide?
Dresden 1945 – 35000 people killed by allied bombing
Hiroshima 1945 – over 100 000 people killed
Vietnam 1962 – 1975 – over 150 000 American Soldiers Killed
Iraq 1991 (first Gulf war)
Two Main Themes
1. Political Ideas
2. Political Ideologies
Five Big Issues
1. Political Authority – Who should have the right to decide? The Right to make and
enforce the rules. Imagine no laws and no punishment.
2. Political Obligation – Why should I obey the law? Is there a moral duty to obey the
state? 3. Democracy – What is Democracy? Should the people rule? Is democracy a bad form of
4. Liberty – Is liberty (or freedom) valuable? How much freedom should I have? Is it okay
to offend other people? Eg) Driving and Cell Phones – How free should we be? Is it the
State’s Business? Is it Dangerous? Balancing freedom and authority
5. Distributive Justice – Who should get what? Why should some have more property than
others? Why should my freedom be restricted?
How do I fit into the world? How does the world work? What should be done?
Politics, Power, Authority
September 15 2009
What is Politics?
Examples of Politics: Elections, Demonstrations, Policy Decisions ( eg, Environment, Health
Care, Education), Law-Making
Politics Matters: The Decisions made within the government affect each individual, Laws assign
rights and duties for each individual, and these governmental decisions are enforced.
Examples, Haiti and the Dominican Republic
Different Environmental Conditions, both are poor, but Haiti is the poorest nation in the world
outside of Africa. They are this way due to the Consequences of political decisions. Decisions
made by specific individuals have created the circumstances within each country.
Some Meanings of ‘Politics’: Formal Government activity, Dishonestly seeking personal gain,
Noble pursuit of the public good, “Who Gets what, When, and How?”
Politics outside of the human race, A biological Order that includes humans, apes and monkeys.
Who gets what, when, how?
Chimpanzee Politics: Competition, Power, Conflict. They assert Dominance Strategies and
Alliances. There are winners and Losers, It is essentially male power politics, and they’re
territorial and aggressive.
Bonobo Politics: Peaceful, Gentle and Loving, Erotic and Egalitarian New Study: Current Biology 2008 – Not so Nice They hunt and eat other monkeys
Humans Exhibit both Chimpanzee and Bonobo Politics.
Politics Definition: Social Activity or process that involves conflict or the potential for conflict, or
conflicting views or conflict over territory or resources, where binding decisions are then made,
if someone does not play their part the laws are then enforced.
Politics is somewhere between Love and War:
Pure Conflict = War
Pure Cooperation = True Love
Politics = Conflict and Cooperation
Where is Politics? – Family, Economy, State
International? It is controversial to whether or not that the goings on between states are
politics, often referred to as international relations
Aspects of Politics
Collective Action, Conflict and cooperation, authoritative decisions, enforced against the
Government and the State
What is Government?
-The activity of governing or ruling
-Exercising the authority over others
-Coordinating collective decisions
Aristotle’s Two Questions:
1. Who Rules? One, Few, or Many
2. In Whose Interests do they rule? In the rulers’ interests OR In the interests of the Governed Aristotle’s Forms of Government
By the individual:
Tyranny (rules for their own interests) /Monarchy (King or Queen, rules for the state)
By The Few:
Oligarchy(Ruled By the rich)/Aristocracy (Ruled by the best)
By The Many:
Democracy(Power to the people or the many)/Polity
What is the State?
The State is a Territorial Community, with a more or less Centralized Governing Authority. It
possesses Sovereignty, including monopoly of legitimate violence.
**If one does not distinguish between nation and state then one cannot understand the many
conflicts within the world.
What is Power?
The ability to produce results, Influencing Others’ Behaviour,
Power can take several forms,
The Forms of Power: Coercion (Threatening an individual in order to make them do what is
wanted of them), Influence (Making others do as they would not have done otherwise),
Manipulation (One can use others and shape their beliefs in order to exert power over those
- The Stick: Force and Coercion (Military and Police)
- The Carrot: Economic Inducement (Bribes and Sanctions)
- Agenda Setting
- Getting others to WANT what you want
- Institutions, Values, Policies
- Propaganda is a clear form of soft power The World as a Three-Level Chess Match
- Military (USA most Powerful country in the world)
- Economic (Much more international cooperation is needed)
- Soft Power (trans-national issues such as: Climate change, terrorism, global H1N1
Pandemic. Each require soft power)
What is Authority?
The Right to Command
The right to punish those who disobey
Is State authority Justified?
MIDTERM OCTOBER 31 ST
According to the preferred definition of politics from the last lecture, politics
a. Necessarily involves violence
b. Requires strong leaders
c. Is a way of dealing with conflict
The State of Nature
Why do we need a State?
Life without the state and political power
Aristotle – believed People are naturally political
Hobbes – believed People are by convention political
Fear – is a central theme in his philosophies
War – not in the sense of armies and fighting, but of conflict, the state is used to avoid conflict Peace – his fundamental rule that all people should follow is to seek peace
What Hobbes Claims
Worst Scenario: NO state Protection
Powerful State is needed to avoid disastrous interpersonal conflict
Main Premises: Human Nature
Hobbes on Human Nature
Introspection – ask yourself how you would really respond to these circumstances
Materialistic – humans are just machines, relying on motion to live, we are bodies in constant
Felicity – means continual success in getting what you want, to be happy your desires are
satisfied. Human beings seek Felicity.
Power – the power of an individual human being, One’s present means to satisfy their present
desires. Power aids to obtain Felicity.
To be alive it to desire, to cease to desire is death
Hobbes on Human Nature
Predominantly Self-Regarding – do things that make you feel better ie) charity makes the giver
Seek to Enhance Reputation – we care what other people think, we’re fundamentally social.
Averse to our own death – generally people try to avoid death
Equally Vulnerable, Equally Able - some are stronger some are smarter, however everyone
September 22nd 2009
A Beautiful Mind – John Nash vs. Adam Smith
Smith: Individual ambition serves the common good
Nash: The best result comes from everyone doing what’s best for himself... and the group Which of the Following is NOT a feature of Hobbes’s human Being
Are fundamentally unequal - he stated that ALL human’s are equal
Hobbes: The Story So Far...
Need the state to avoid a war of all against all
Basic Claims about Human Nature
The Road to War
Equality – No One is invulnerable, regardless of physical stature or intelligence
Scarcity – no point in producing goods as they will inevitably be taken
Uncertainty – Everyone has the reason to be suspicious of others, and strike pre-emptively
Three Reasons to Attack
Competition: Gain – in order to obtain your wants you can take from others
Lack of Trust: Safety – you do not know who you can trust, therefore attack first to preserve
your own safety
Glory: Reputation – attack others to gain reputation as the strongest
NOT FUN – “...continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor,
nasty brutish, and short” – Thomas Hobbes ‘Leviathan’
**The state of War is not continual fighting, but the constant anticipation of fighting.
Is Hobbes too Pessimistic?
What do we think of Others?
Actions speak louder than words
Evidence: Locking Doors and Chests against neighbours and family members
Morality in the State of Nature
Natural Right of Liberty – Use your own judgment in order to do what is necessary to preserve
one’s self. No Injustice – No State= No Law= No Law Breakers= No Justice
Laws of Nature – If you follow these laws you’re more likely to stay alive and live a relatively
normal length life
“Reason Suggesteth Convenient Articles of Peace”
Laws of Nature _- exam
Fundamental Law: Seek Peace, if you can get it
Second Law: Lay Down Natural Right, if Others do too
Third Law: Perform your Covenants – Keep your promises
Negative form of the Golden Rule *Don’t do to others what you would not want done to you*
Individual and Collective Rationality
It is Rational for Individuals to Attack Others - Smart for one, Dumb for all
It is Rational for the collective to seek pace and co-operate
Let’s Break a Deal!
Collectively Rational Outcome is Unstable
Individuals Have an Incentive to Defect
State Provides Assurance that Laws of Nature will be followed
Hobbes Says that “in the state of nature what is my obligation to follow the laws of
nature? “ these are the rules that we wish could be enforced, but if others are not
don’t be a sucker and try to do it alone.
John Locke 1632-1704
Locke’s State of Nature
A State of Peace
A State of Equality (no one has the divine right to lead)
Law of Nature (not the same as Hobbes, the law of nature is gods law and the law of
Natural Liberty (liberty is not license, to be free is to not be able to do whatever you
want – ie. Not free to kill another person) Locke vs. Hobbes
Law of Nature – Hobbes- follow these rules in order to preserve yourself. Locke- God’s law or
Natural Liberty- Hobbes- can do whatever you wish, Locke- are free to act within the moral law
Enforcing the Law of Nature
Not in Vain, so need enforcer
Executive power of law of nature
EPLN includes the right to punish, each one of us has the capacity to enforce laws and punish
others for violating the natural laws
Scarcity or Abundance?
Hobbes: Natural scarcity and Conflict
Locke: Natural Abundance of Land, Cultivate your own land
Why do we need a state: inconveniences
Problem: Administration of Justice
Conflict about the law of nature
Some lack power to enforce the law of nature
Jean-Jacques Rousseau 1712-1778
Rousseau on Human Nature
Desire for self-preservation (natural savage is good for Rousseau)
They also have the ability to exhibit pity or compassion for the suffering of others
Social Man and Natural Savage
Hobbes & Locke describe civilized man Civilization has corrupted us
Savage is unaware of morality – simple rules ie. Commandments.
Self-Preservation vs. Compassion
Scarcity creates a problem
Self-preservation trumps pity which leads to conflict
SO, war seems inevitable
The Natural Savage (What Rousseau Thinks people are like…)
Solitary, No language, fears only pain and hunger
Desires only Food, sex, and sleep
September 24, 2009
Justifying the Sate
In Locke’s state of nature, the executive power of the law of nature is possessed by:
A. Each person
C. The Sovereign
D. The Police
E. The guy with the biggest weapon
Rousseau on the State of Nature
Self-preservation & Compassion
Savage is uncorrupted by Civilization
Savage is unaware of morality
The Savage is a solitary figure, with no language and fears only pain and hunger
How Change happens in the state of nature (1) Free will and (2) the capacity for self-improvement
In Response to scarcity people become innovative and create tools and cooperation, and
people learn to love and affection between individuals. Leisure, Luxury Goods become
available, and needs are corrupted as you desire things that are not necessary for survival.
Further Developments in the State of Nature
Language and Comparison of Talents, which breeds a system of status.
Agriculture, Metallurgy, Property, Rules of injustice and inequality
Leads to the state of war due to jealousy and desires
The rich devise a brilliant plan- the creation of the state to enforce the rules of property,
it benefits those who possess more than those who possess little
Rousseau believes that the creation of the state was a scheme created by the rich.
An + Archos = without rulers
We would be better off without government
Cooperation is possible without coercion.
Hobbe’s reply to Anarchism
Fear, Suspicion and competition will overwhelm cooperation, due to himan rationality
and the conditions of the world without a state.
A few bad apples can ruin everything
One ‘Bogart’ can ruin the party
Two more anarchist responses
Humans are naturally good
Social Cooperation without coercion
Options: Conflict or the State Options: Conflict or the State
Negative and Positive Justifications of the State
Negative Argument: the state is the only alternative to the state of nature
Is there a positive argument for a moral duty to obey the state?
Why Political Authority is Morally Problematic
People are naturally free, equal, and independent
Legitimate Power is created by us
Authority requires my consent
Key Features of the State
Claims a monopoly of Legitimate Violence
In Return, it is responsible for protecting us
If the state cannot protect its citizens (ie. hurricane Katrina) then it is not doing it’s job
Universal Political Obligations
Justifying the State = showing that there are universal political obligations
Should we obey the law just because it is the law?
Universal means “applies to everyone”
The Parent Analogy
State-Citizen Relation is like the parent-child relation (Plato’s Crito)
Life and benefits general gratitude ad the duty to obey
Problem: Unreasonable orders and laws
If the law layed down by the state is unreasonable then we have no moral obligation to
Voluntarism and the Social Contract
Voluntarism: State’s political authority depends on my consent Social Contract: Political obligation based on contract or agreement
Does everyone agree to obey?
Was there an original contract?
Original contract = actual, historical, deal to consent to the state
No evidence for it
Main Problem with Original Content
A contract among Them, Back then, Couldn’t obligate Us, Now
Has every individual actually consent to the state?
Only a minority explicitly consent
What counts as Consent?
Does voting Count as consent?
First objection: I didn’t vote for them- My vote still consents to the system in general
Second Objection: Abstainers can’t be counted as consenters – Australia – fined if not
voting – everyone now votes
September 29, 2009
The Social Contract – (continued)
Wolff says that political obligation is:
A special problem for democracies
Not really a problem at all
A state’s obligation to make treaties with other states
Answer: The obligation to obey the law because it is the law
Easier to justify after consuming a bag of weed Are there universal political obligations?
Voluntarism: State’s political authority depends on my consent
We consider three kinds of consent…
(1) Express (2) Tacit (3) Hypothetical
Tacit = implicit or understood, you do/understand something not by words but with
Do we tacitly or implicitly consent to the state’s authority over us?
Is there something that is morally equivalent to consenting?
Does residence count as consent?
Staying is morally equivalent to consenting, because dissatisfied people can leave
Obstacles to leaving; poverty, culture, language, other states
Therefore, staying is not morally equivalent to consenting
Hypothetical Consent: 1
Rational individuals would consent if they were in the state of nature
Objection: Hypothetical consent is not actually consent
Non-Voluntarism: Worthy of consent
Hypothetical Consent: 2
Voluntarism: HC gets us to realize what we already consent to
First Objection: Not really consent
Second Objection: Some still might refuse to consent
I didn’t- and I wouldn’t - consent, so that state is illegitimate
Correct to reject blind obedience But, People disagree about the justice of laws
Two options available:
A publicly agreed, shared set of laws
Defer to private judgments about the content of laws
Better to have shared laws that everyone agrees to other than continued disagreement
The “Inconveniences” of the state of nature defeat anarchism
Utilitarianism – Jeremy Bentham
A moral theory that combines to families of ideas the good and the right families. The right
refers not to the states of affairs but to principals that can be right or wrong or legitimate or
illegitimate. While the good focus more on the happiness and the well being of others.
The right action is the one that maximizes utility
Utility = happiness, well being
Obey the law IF AND ONLY IF doing so will produce greater happiness than disobeying
Three parts to Utilitarianism…
1. Theory of the good (happiness)
2. Commitment to equal concern –not just my happiness, everyone to count for one and
no one for more than one. Everyone counts equally. Collective happiness
3. Requirement of maximization
Is happiness the only thing that matters? The Pleasure Machine
Would you plug in?
The experience machine
Other accounts of welfare
Informed preference satisfaction
Utilitarianism and Political obligation
Obey the law IF AND ONLY IF doing so will produce greater happiness than disobeying
Objection: This is a law-breaker’s charter
Don’t justify particular actions by appeal to utility-promotion
Well-Being is maximized by each of us obeying the laws
Objections to Utilitarianism
Too demanding: asks too much
Too permissive: allows too much
Is Utilitarianism Too Demanding?
Direct Utilitarianism: Yes
Indirect utilitarianism: Not necessarily
Is Utilitarianism Too Permissive?
Can require injustice (torture, slavery, conviction of the innocent)
Reply (1) Hard-Headed (ie. If it turned out that enslaving a portion of the population
created more general happiness than it would be permitted)
Reply (2) Appeasement- it would never generate happiness by enslaving a portion of the
population A general objection to Utilitarianism
It fails to explain why actions are morally right or wrong
It can get the right answer, but not for the right reason.
October 1, 2009
Continuing from last time; Political Obligation
The Principle of Fairness
Where I receive benefits from the state, fairness requires that I take in my share of the
This burden includes restrictions on my freedom, including obeying the law
Benefits and Burdens
Benefits: Peace, order and security provided by a functioning legal system
Burdens: Obeying the law
It would be unfair to disregard the burdens,, so don’t ‘free ride’
Receiving and Accepting Benefits
If others force benefits on me, am I obligated to reciprocate?
I have a duty of fairness to do my part ONLY IF I accept the benefits
Problem: How can we NOT accept the benefits the state provides?
So the fairness principle is flawed
What is Democracy
The power to issue and enforce binding commands
How should this power be distributed?
Who should rule?
What sort of government is best? Rule by whom?
Monarchy/tyranny (The one)
Aristocracy/Oligarch (the few)
Who should rule?
Political Power should be distributed equally
Every citizen should have the right to an equal say
What is Democracy?
Rule (Kratos) by the Many (Demos)
Government of, for, and by the people
Historically unpopular view
Origins of Democracy
Ancient Athens 508-322 BC
Decisions made by majority vote in an assembly of all citizens
Open debate and subsidized participation
Features of Athenian Democracy
How democratic was Athenian democracy
More democratic than ours (Direct vs. Representative) AND less democratic (Exclusionary- excluding women, slaves)
Key features of representative democracy
Universal rights to vote & stand for office
Elected representatives make decisions
Elections are free, frequent, and fair
Freedom of speech; independent media
Freedom of Association
Participation in Representative Democracies
Is more participation desirable?
Is direct democracy possible in large nation-states?
Plato 427-347 BC
Democracy is rule by the many
The many are selfish, ignorant and unpredictable
Therefore, the many are unqualified to rule
The Craft Analogy
Consider jobs requiring lots of skill; Pilots, architects, medical doctors
Health of the body & state
Philosophers Should Rule
Philosophy = love of wisdom
Political Decision-makers should have judgement, skill and knowledge
Ruling is a skill attainable only by the few
Philosophical training: acquiring knowledge of the human good Philosophers don’t want power
But they realize that the alternative is unacceptable
Are there political experts?
Is there expert knowledge applicable to ruling?
Even so, how does a rulers know what is in the peoples interests
Ask the people what they want
Should Any group be given Absolute Power?
Problem of Trust
Plato Against Corruption
Educate rulers to be concerned for the common good
Rulers possess no private property
Rulers are denied family ties
Are there likely to be many volunteers?
October 6, 2009
Lectures up to and including October 22
Required readings for lectures and tutorials (including week of October 26)
Question: Principle of Fairness: (you should share the burden)
Answer: condemns free riding
Questions: Plato’s ship analogy
The art of navigation, he believes that democracy is similar to the crew running a ship rather
than the true captain. He believes that if the masses were in control it would be nothing but a
drunken pleasure cruise. -The crew door does not believe in the art of navigation
-The true navigation- the average person would see this as, a star-gazer, however the true
navigator possesses knowledge, skills, and concerns for the good of everyone
Democracy, Part Two
Why democracy?- Two types of reasons for valuing democracy
Intrinsic Reasons- is a reason to think it is valuable in itself apart from any consequences that
may be produced
Instrumental Reasons- is a reason to think it is valuable because of the consequences it
First Intrinsic Reason: Self-Rule
Democracy embodies a commitment to freedom or self-rule
Democracy = individuals ruling themselves
Autonomy- giving laws to oneself
We can be coerced and free
Coercion: we are forced to comply with laws
Freedom: in a democracy, laws are self-imposed
So coercion is compatible with freedom
Rousseau opposed democratic government because he thinks executive power should
be held by the few
Rousseau supports democratic legislation because he thinks the people should make
their own laws
Objection: Democracy is not a form of freedom
Those on the losing side are subject to laws they do not give themselves
Majority Rule means the minority are not self-ruling. Therefore those in the minority are
Reply to objection
Democracy provides more autonomy than any other decision procedure Democracy gives every citizen the opportunity to participate in law making
Second Intrinsic Reason
Democracy embodies a commitment to treating all as moral equals
Democracy = equal entitlement to participate
Against subordination and exclusion
No natural subordination
Inclusion of all adults equally in reaching collective decisions
Need education and resources to participate effectively
Rousseau’s General Will
Citizens motivated by impartial concern for the public good
You should ask yourself; ‘what’s best for the community?’
Economic classes must be removed so that people are not voting in favour of their
particular economic class
First instrumental reason: Better Decisions
Democracy produces better results than its alternatives
No famine in a democracy with a free press
The democratic peace hypothesis- democratic have never gone to war with one another
(very controversial statement)
Accountability and Interest Protection
Dictators need not take the people’s interests into account
Accountability to citizens constrains democratic leaders Problem: Unpopular but necessary policies won’t be adopted
Two models of democratic input
What goes into the process shapes what comes out
Market model: giving people what they want
Forum model: deliberation, discussion, cooperative debate
Market Model of Democracy: 1
Parties offer a menu of options
Citizens choose what they prefer: they vote for the decision makers
Equal influence= equal voting power
Market Model of Democracy: 2
Elections are competitions in which parties market themselves to citizens
Result: Impoverished debate and citizen incompetence
Schumpeter: Citizens choose experts
Forum Model of Democracy
Equal influence = equal opportunity to participate in discussion
Voting reflects wants after they have been changed by reasoning
Our democracy is not a forum
Powerful private interests dominate our discussions
Political market in which money generates unequal influence
Formal Political equality combines with large economic inequalities
Second instruments reason: Better Citizens
Formal Model Only
Active citizen engagement Develop citizens’ skills in making judgements
Why better citizens?
Participation is an education in itself
Incentive to seek widespread support for ones views
Less selfish, more cooperative, better informed
October 8th 2009
Rousseau’s ‘General Will’ is:
The will of the highest ranking General
The sum of all particular wills
The view of democratic representatives
The common good
Liberty and Freedom
John Stuart Mill (1806-183) – most prominent utilitarian thinker
What On Liberty is about – “The nature and limits of the power which can be legitimately
exercized by society over the individual.” (Chapter 1, Paragraph 1)
The Need to restrict both state and society (public opinion) in their ability to shape
conduct. He wants people to be able to live freely, as they choose without constriction
by the state, as long as they do not harm others
Stages of Liberty
History of Relations between individuals and authority
Throughout this History, the meanings of Liberty and Tyranny. The terms have altered
their meanings depending what stage of development society is in
Contest between subjects and the government
Liberty means protection of society against tyranny of political rulers
Political rights, constitutional checks ie) the Magna Carta
Pre-democratic and pre-liberalist to protect people from tyranny Second Stage
Development of democratic government
Liberty means Popular Self-Rule
Rulers ARE the Ruled, so (it was thought) there is no need to limit Government Power
Rulers need not be checked because they are also the Ruled, because one will not exert
tyranny over oneself.
Recognition that the political Majority can be tyrannical over the minority
Liberty is Democratic government with protection for minorities (protection for those
who lose out on the vote ie) 51% ruling over 49%
Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Canada) Bill of Rights (U.S.A)
Threat of social tyranny: the tyranny of prevailing opinion and feeling
Oppressive, soul-enslaving customs and prejudices
Liberty is individual spontaneity – deciding for yourself how to live, not by imitating
the actions of the majority, find what makes you happiest and live by it
Mill’s Question: When is it legitimate (for the state or others) to interfere in people’s
Mill rejects appeals to custom, tradition, or popular morality ie) religion
Mill states that these ideas are not invalid but must be justified in another way that
does not involve popular opinion.
He seeks a Principled answer
The Liberty Principle
“ The only purpose for which power can be rightly exercised over any member of a civilized
community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others”
Mill’s Radical Principle
A person’s freedom to act may be limited ONLY IF she or he threatens to harm
But Liberty is Valuable only for civilized societies, capable of moral progress Pierre Elliot Trudeau (1919-2000)
“The view we take here is that there is no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation” –
Pierre Trudeau, Justice Minister of Canada, 1968
Paternalism: Coercing people to change their behaviour FOR THEIR OWN GOOD
Paternalists want to protect individuals from themselves
ie) Seat-Belt Legislation
Mill rejects Paternalism, as people should be able to chose their own path, unless it
Mill defends experiments in living, try living in different groups of people in different
social arrangements despite possible ridicule from others.
Mill defends complete freedom of thought and discussion
It is never justifiable to silence the expression of an opinion, whether it is true or false,
because both can benefit society
Can’t we suppress Harmful, False Views?
But, how can we know they’re false?
Many Certainties have turned out to be false
To censor without testing is to assume infallibility
Can’t we suppress Harmful, False Views?
But how can we know if they are false?
Many certainties have turned out to be false
To censor without testing is to assume infallibility
Is it Always better to know the truth? Knowledge can be harmful (for example, Nuclear weapons)
Knowledge can lead to the dissolution of Society (Atheism) – society will fall apart id the
belief in an after-life is dissolved, therefore, “if there is no God everything is permitted.”
Distoevsky: Necessary illusions – people need to believe in false ideas to preserve
Can’t we suppress opinions that aren’t useful?
How can we know whether an opinion is harmful/useful
Do we KNOW that atheism will destroy society?
The only wat to know is to test opinions is open discussion
Another reason not to censor false views
False views can function as a challenge (eg. Creationism)
Dead dogma versus living truth
Enables believers of the truth to defend themselves
When expression of a view may be limited
Its always wrong to censor a view
But its legitimate to restrict its expression if its likely to directly instigate harm to others
Example: Corn dealers- “ I should be able to publish a story that says that the corn dealers are
responsible for starving the poor, but one cannot assemble a violent mob in front of the corn
dealers home and decree for all to hear that the corn dealer is responsible for starving the poor
October 13 , 2009
Liberty, Part Two
John Stewart Mill
Why does Mill mean by Harm?
Distinction between offensive actions and actions that cause harm
To harm someone is to damage their interests True or False?
According to John Stuart Mill, harming another’s interests is sufficient to justify constraint?
False – Harming others’ interests not sufficient to justify constraint
It’s sometimes legitimate to allow people to harm others’ interests
Examples: Competitive exam, job competition
Why is this okay?
(Mills’ is utilitarian)
Why limit individual liberty?
The action in question harms interests that ought to be considered as rights
Not all interests should be considered as rights
Which rights do we have?
Why do we have rights?
Three prominent answers:
1. Self Evident (ie. Life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, Locke’s innate rights)
2. Custom and Convention (ie. Individuals have certain rights)
3. Recognizing them maximizes utility (ie. Obeying the law makes the largest amount of
happiness for all individuals [utilitarianism])
Indirect Utilitarianism Revisited
Choose the system of rights that maximizes utility or happiness
Can justify a set of rights to liberty, security, and property
Example: Free thought, truth, utility
Does the Liberty Principle really maximize utility?
Couldn’t we sometimes produce more happiness by intervening for a person’s own
A utilitarian theory or rights need not be a liberal theory The permanent interests of a man as a progressive being
This idea is crucial for understanding Mills’ view:
Human beings are capable of progress: they can benefit from experience
Why Liberty, on balance, promotes happiness
1. Individuals generally know best what makes them happy
2. Making choices exercises our distinctively human capacities
3. ‘Experiments of Living’ as examples to be followed
Form our thought and character freely and reflectively
Make our plan of life our own
Why is liberty valuable?
Maybe liberty is intrinsically valuable: comparable to enjoyment
But many people dread freedom
For Mill, Liberty is necessary for individual self-realization- Liberty is a part of happiness
Problems with Liberalism
Mill on Public indecency
Sex in public is offensive, but not necessarily harmful to others
These acts may be restricted because they are offences against decency
But why, then, does Mill not restrict public pork-eating that disgusts muslims?
Liberals wrongly see individuals as isolated atoms Communitarianists believe that liberals have a misconception about human nature
Liberals wrongly think we can detach ourselves from current social practices
Liberal reply to Communitarianism
We are not isolated atoms: our sense of ourselves comes from society
But we can question received views, even if we can’t question all of them at the same
Mill on Liberty
Only harm to others and offences against decency limit liberty
Basis: Utility of progressive beings
Individualism and Independence, not Atomism or Egoism
Common set of rights and duties
Civil, political (ie. vote, run for office), and economic (ie. health care, EI, etc.)
Expansion of the class of citizens
Cultural diversity of modern societies
Challenge the idea of the “normal” citizen
Reject exclusion, assimilation, marginalization, silencing
Exclusion: keeping minorities out
Assimilation: Forcing compliance with majority norms and practices
Marginalization: Forcing indigenous peoples onto reserves
Silencing: institutionalizing the disabled
Multiculturalism: 3 Demand for a more inclusive understanding of citizenship
Recognize plurality of identities
October 15, 2009
Distribution of Property
Question: John Stuart Mill believes that human beings are:
Answer: Capable of Progress
Karl Marx 1818-1883
Money Changes Everything
Money transforms human relations- money commodifies our relations with each other
(commodity – something we need)
Money is the “universal whore” – everything has its price, including acts of love, looking
Money talk debases our language- it distorts the way we think about human interaction,
instead of basing our values of others on moral standing, we judge them on their wealth
The true foundation of private property
“In actual history, it is a notorious fact that conquest, enslavement, robbery, murder, in short,
force, play the greatest part.” –Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. 1
The problem of Distributive Justice
Who should get what?
What should be distributive? ie. Happiness? Can you distribute happiness? Money? Opportunities? Rights?
What are property rights?
Owners of resources have (limited) rights to determine what to do with them
Objects, lane, buildings, factories
Cluster of rights: possess (exclude others), use, sell, give away, destroy
What justifies a system of property rights?
Natural Rights?- Locke- individuals posses natural human rights to life liberty and
Freedom? Freedom to what? Freedom of what?
Equality? Equal worth of persons, may justify property rights
Choose the distribution that maximizes well-being
Impartiality: Equal Concern ie. What would benefit the most amount of people, concern
for each person
Diminishing Marginal Utility: Equality
The way to maximize happiness is to equally distribute money
Incentives: Inequality –unequal incomes (ie. Doctor) can cause people to be determined
to obtain a career that will benefit others, therefore inequalities may benefit society.
Basic rights include the right to private property
Entails free-market capitalism with a minimal state
Forced redistribution is illegitimate (unjust)
Rawls’ Liberal Egalitarianism
Unrestricted free markets generate unacceptable inequalities Commitment to freedom means equal freedoms for all
Redistribution can equalize freedoms (ie. Wealth, duties)
The Income Parade
How is income distributed?
Income Translated into Height
From negative height to 50 miles
The wealth parade: More inequality
Inequality: Some statistics
Wealth Inequality in Canada
46 billionaires = bottom 14 million
Collective Net worth of richest 1% (1.5 Trillion) is larger than Canada’s GDP
Richest 5% = one third of global income
Poorest 80% = one third of global income
1.4 billion people live on less than $1.25 per day
Rousseau on Private Property
The true founder of civil society
Fruits of the earth belong to us all- whatever we can create out of nature belongs to us
The earth itself belongs to nobody
Rights to Private Property
Nozick: three parts of a theory
1. Initial Acquisition
What Justifies excluding others? Locke: How ownership Originates – How did the system of private property rights come into
existence, how might they have been justified
The Argument from survival
Fundamental Law of Nature – People should be preserved, keep ones self alive.
Property in whatever we need to survive: Fruits and Nuts
First Proviso: Non-Wastage
Second Proviso: Enough and as good
Problems with the survival argument
1. Doesn’t generate property rights in land, machinery, capital
2. Doesn’t explain how we come to own things
The Labour-Mixing Argument
Individuals own themselves and their labour
Property arises through mixing what you own with what you don’t own
Problems with Labour-Mixing Argument
1. Seems unfair to those unable to work
2. Mixing doesn’t automatically generate ownership: Nozick’s can of tomato juice
October 20 , 2009
Distribution of Property
Next time: 168-176
Question: For utilitarians, the idea of diminishing marginal utility suggests that income should
Answer: Relatively equally
The Value-Added Argument
Labour adds value to nature
Adding value generates ownership rights Objection: doesn’t justify property in what was already there
The argument From Desert
Those who work productively deserve to enjoy the the fruits of their labour
Problem: Again, seems unfair to those who can’t work, and (At best) justifies only value
Upshot of Locke’s Arguments
Difficult to justify an account of initial acquisition of property
So, let’s focus on the market system in which private property plays a crucial role
A Pure Capitalist free market
1. Who owns what? – in a pure capitalist free market, individuals and firms own everything, ie.
Lands raw materials, factories, technology machines
2. Why do people produce? -people produce for profit (money)
3. How are goods distributed? –goods are distributed by voluntary exchange (laws of supply
4. What determines the goods that get produced? – free competition – ie. You can produce
anything for sale, and see who will buy it.
A Modified Free market
1. Some state-owned enterprises- this is what we have in Canada
2. Some voluntary Distribution (Charity)
3. Sale of some goods prohibited- you can’t legal buy drugs ie. Crack
4. Some state-enforced monopolies
A planned economy
1. State owns all majority property
2. Production for needs, not for profits 3. Distribution by central allocation
4. State controls what gets produced
An Important Question
Aren’t Markets Irrational?
Friedrich Hayek 1899-1992
Hayek on Market Efficiency
Markets convey information
Prices signal shortage and surplus
Profit Provides incentives to produce
Therefore, markets satisfy people’s want
Markets, by themselves, don’t always function efficiently.
Some goods have externalities (things outside of the market that greatly affect it)
Therefore, the cost of producing these goods is externalized
Note: Externalities are things that people don’t ask for in the market but receive
Cost nothing to consumer, who would rather not have them (ie. Pollution)
Free markets oversupply them (there is too much pollution in a free market society)
It is cheaper to make others pay costs
Cost nothing to consumer, who wants them (ie. Streetlights)
Public goods: if provided, benefit all
Free markets undersupply them Incentive to free ride
Improving on the Free Market
Internalize the externalities
Make it illegal to produce some goods with negative externalities (ie. Put laws into place to
reduce pollution, ie. You don’t ask for cancer, but you may get it due to negative externalities)
State provides public goods and taxes citizens to pay for them
Rawls on Justice, Part One
John Rawls 1921-2002
Principles for What?
Set of principles that show one how goods should be distributed
Principles for the basic structure of society – the main social political and economical
institutions that govern our everyday activities ie. The state, the economy, the
educational institutions etc.
Why the basic structure?
Hypothetical Social Contract
Initial hypothetical choice situation
The original position (OP) models equality of concern (we show equal concern for
everyone and then decide what choice will govern society)
What principles of distributive justice would be chosen there?
POP’s must be impartial
Veil of ignorance rules out bias
Can’t benefit myself at the expense of others
Don’t know my intelligence, economic class, talents, sex, race, social status Next time read Ball and Dagger – 1-17
Saugeen-Maitland Thursday October 29 Main Lounge- 7:00-9:00
Answer: Neither oversupply goods with positive externalities or undersupply goods with
Markets actually undersupply goods with positive externalities and oversupply goods with
Rawls: The story so far
Choosing principles of Justice
Basic structure of society
Original position and veil of ignorance
Impartially: “justice as fairness”
What POP’s know (POP’S = people in original position)