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Lecture 1

PHIL0024 Lecture 1: Hobbes and Rawls Notes

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Department
Philosophy
Course Code
PHIL-0024
Professor
Denby

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PHIL 24 04/08/2015
HOBBES
International Relations
Disarmament
oAlways rational to arm regardless of if your neighbor does
oLeads to ceaseless expansion of power
Pre-Emptive Strikes
Often rational, especially if it removes the capacity for retaliation
Explains aggression and why there is a ceaseless attempt to acquire power
Explains
Why there is war
Without positing hatred of neighbors, ignorance, intolerance, irrationality, etc.
Domestic PDs
Who does the dishes?
Explains the state of the sink in student houses
Hobbes’ solution to the paradox of self-interest
Renounce your right to choose an A on condition that your partner does too
Leave the state of nature and form a COMMONWEALTH
How do you establish a commonwealth?
Renounce certain rights on condition that others do too (establish a social contract)
Renounce those that allow you to escape the state of nature (kill, assault, coerce, etc.)
What is a commonwealth like?
Peace and morality: morality is defined by the contract
Morality is the set of rules established in the covenant
Hobbes justification for traditional morality: it’s in our self-interest
Morality is the solution to a practical problem
State/govt.: this is the means of enforcing the contract, what Hobbes calls sovereign
A contract that is not enforced is worthless
The sovereign is not bound by the contract
Fruits of civilization “commodious building, etc.; divisions of labor
We can induce in altruistic feelings or take care of others without fear
Questions for Hobbes
Why should I act morally?
Answer: because it is in your self-interest to do so
Hobbes’ theory is really just Egoism that takes into account the fact that we act in a world of others like us
Why shouldn’t I sometimes break the rules if this will benefit me?
Answer: no one would agree to a contact that allows this; the benefits of a commonwealth would not be
possible
When is it permissible to rebel against a government?
Answer: When you are not or are no longer bound by the contract
Advantages of Hobbes’ Account
Doesn’t demand self-sacrificing or unending obligations to the poor (unlike Utilitarianism)
Secular; no appeal to God (unlike Divine Command Theory)
Doesn’t require objective moral facts built into nature (unlike Natural Law Theory)
Morality is not just a matter of custom or taste (unlike relativism)
Does not assume a rich notion of rationality (unlike Kantianism)
Does not assume anything about human psychology
Shows there is no special moral subject matter
Reconstructs morality starting with the general practical problem: what ought I to do?
Justifies the state
Even a self-interested being would agree to it, so it is not
unjust to make someone obey it
RAWLS
Some Definitions
C is a contract: C is a set of rules
R is a rule: R is a sentence of the form: if in situation type S, do action type A
Contract C is complete: for every situation of type S, C contains some rules of the dorm: if in situation type
S, do action type A
Contract C is consistent: it is possible to follow all rules in C
A consistent contract cannot contain two rules unless it is possible to do both
The Naïve Social Contract Theory
An action is morally right iff it is permitted by the contract that the original founders of the society agreed to
abide by when they emerged from a state of nature
Problems
Why think that there is a unique contract?

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Description
PHIL 24 04/08/2015 • HOBBES •  nternational Relati ns • Disarmament o Always rational to arm regardless of if your neighbor does o Leads to ceaseless expansion of power Pre­Emptive Strikes Often rational, especially if it removes the capacity for retaliation Explains aggression and why there is a ceaseless attempt to acquire power Explains Why there is war Without positing hatred of neighbors, ignorance, intolerance, irrationality, etc. Domestic PDs Who does the dishes? Explains the state of the sink in student houses Hobbes’ solution to the paradox of self­interest Renounce your right to choose an A on condition that your partner does too Leave the state of nature and form a COMMONWEALTH How do you establish a commonwealth? Renounce certain rights on condition that others do too (establish a social contract) Renounce those that allow you to escape the state of nature (kill, assault, coerce, etc.) What is a commonwealth like? Peace and morality: morality is defined by the contract Morality is the set of rules established in the covenant Hobbes justification for traditional morality: it’s in our self­interest Morality is the solution to a practical problem State/govt.: this is the means of enforcing the contract, what Hobbes calls sovereign A contract that is not enforced is worthless The sovereign is not bound by the contract Fruits of civilization “commodious building,” etc.; divisions of labor We can induce in altruistic feelings or take care of others without fear Questions for Hobbes Why should I act morally? Answer: because it is in your self­interest to do so Hobbes’ theory is really just Egoism that takes into account the fact that we act in a world of others like us Why shouldn’t I sometimes break the rules if this will benefit me? Answer: no one would agree to a contact that allows this; the benefits of a commonwealth would not be  possible When is it permissible to rebel against a government? Answer: When you are not or are no longer bound by the contract Advantages of Hobbes’ Account Doesn’t demand self­sacrificing or unending obligations to the poor (unlike Utilitarianism) Secular; no appeal to God (unlike Divine Command Theory) Doesn’t require objective moral facts built into nature (unlike Natural Law Theory) Morality is not just a matter of custom or taste (unlike relativism) Does not assume a rich notion of rationality (unlike Kantianism) Does not assume anything about human psychology Shows there is no special moral subject matter Reconstructs morality starting with the general practical problem: what ought I to do? Justifies the state Even a self­interested being would agree to it, so it is not  unjust to make someone obey it RAWLS Some Definitions C is a contract: C is a set of rules R is a rule: R is a sentence of the form: if in situation type S, do action type A Contract C is complete: for every situation of type S, C contains some rules of the dorm: if in situation type  S, do action type A Contract C is consistent: it is possible to follow all rules in C A consistent contract cannot contain two rules unless it is possible to do both The Naïve Social Contract Theory An action is morally right iff it is permitted by the contract that the original founders of the society agreed to  abide by when they emerged from a state of nature Problems Why think that there is a unique contract? No anthropological or historical evidence that anyone every did live in a state of nature or ever made such a  contract Why should a contract made by others long ago bind us now? The Hypothetical Social Contract Theory An action is morally right iff it is permitted by the contract that the members of the society would agree to  live under if they were to chose such a contract Problems But under what hypothetical circumstances is this choice supposed to take place? Until we know that, we  cannot say what they would chose We need to know about the choosers’ beliefs, desires, motivations, and principles of practical reasoning Basic Idea Justice is about fairness, but fairness is not obvious Rawls’ answer: whatever they would agree to behind a veil of ignorance The Original Position Under what hypothetical circumstances are we to imagine the contract being made? Answer: in the “Original Position” The Original Position sets constrains on the … of those choosing the contract Knowledge Everyone knows all the general facts but is behind a “veil of ignorance” concerning her particular identity in  and the nature of the society to come Knows general facts, is ignorant of identity, is ignorant of the nature of the society to come Thick conception of the good: what sorts of lives and societies she values, including moral, religious,  philosophical views Motivation (desires) Each person is motivated only by self­interest: she desires to maximize her own welfare – the things she  considers to be good – in the society to come Not aggressive or altruistic, just non­tuistic: no one takes any interested in anyone else’s interests Given the veil of ignorance, this means that each desires to maximize her “thin” goods All­purpose means too whatever ends you might have in life Liberties, opportunities, wealth, income, bases of self­respect Intersection of the sets of each person’s goals Rationality (principles of reasoning) Each person chooses the most efficient means to her ends Each person adopts a maximin principle of choice Don’t choose any situation unless its worst outcome is at least as good as the worse outcome of any oth
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