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Lecture 1

PHIL-0024 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Rationality

11 pages62 viewsSpring 2015

Course Code

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PHIL 24 04/08/2015
International Relations
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
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
Hobbessolution 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
When is it permissible to rebel against a government?
Answer: When you are not or are no longer bound by the contract
Advantages of HobbesAccount
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
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
Why think that there is a unique contract?

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