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Midterm Overview

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University of Ottawa
Daniel Kofman

Plato • The virtuous soul • Why being just is better than being unjust • Reply to Glaucon &Adeimantus • Rhetoric & democracy (too much rhetoric) • Aristotle • The good life – we exist for the purpose of reaching our full rational potential (noble actions), not just living together. • The koinonia (community) • Deliberative democracy (political community) – only citizens can participate in activities of the state (very limited flexibility for who can be a citizen) – POLITY (democracy/oligarchy) • The polis (friendship, trust, community, justice, etc.) = equality • Distribution of goods according to honor • Highest good (happinesss – intrinsic good) • Instrumental goods are a means to achieve intrinsic goods • Critique of Plato – doesn’t including a multitude of goods and his structuring of the polis (communist in some regards) leads to things in common being neglected Aristotle vs. Hobbes  Aristotle – there is a common good and therefore an objective moral truth  Hobbes – there is no common rule of good and therefore no objective moral truth  Aristotle – a rational person has the judgment to distinguish between good and bad - recognizing the moral right of others (the reason why not to hurt others)  Hobbes – self-interest and morals are two separate things  Hobbes - individuals in the state of nature (outside of civil society) are morally competent beings with complete set of interests and capable of forming compacts and other moral undertakings.  Aristotle - this is impossible. Typical interests of humans are engendered in society as social beings: desire for glory, honor, admiration, power, avoiding shame, ridicule, etc. Moral competence can only develop in social life (and even then not for everybody and not to the same degree).  Hobbes’atomism lends itself to a restricted understand of vital human interests in social/political organization.  Aristotle’s analysis of human nature within the state – treating the state itself as a “natural” institution – leads itself to a more diverse array of interests that a good polis should satisfy.  Hobbes’explanation of political organization in mechanistic terms opposesAristotle’s argument for human telos (live according to the moral and intellectual excellences) Hobbes • The state of nature – it is in everyone’s best interest to escape from the state of nature • All men are created equal – all men have an equal right to everything in the state of nature • Hobbes believes there are no inherent moral duties in the state of nature • Presumption – this implies a war of all vs. all • Therefore, one ought to leave the state of nature to ensure their own protection (self- interest) - avoiding violent death • How? Form a society governed by laws. However, in so doing, they give up their right to everything and transfer all rights to the sovereign – state of peace • They have no right to rebel unless the sovereign threatens their personal security • Sovereign must have power – words without swords are empty – to enforce the compact. • There is no common morality until one is invented outside the state of nature • In the state of nature, there is no trust or security other than what an individual can provide for himself • Right to liberty • It’s in everybody’s individual interest to escape the state of nature by agreeing among
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