PHL Final Exam Terminology
Social Contract Theory: Social institutions are a product of voluntary agreement
between free individuals. Individual consent is the basis for legitimacy. The function
of the social contract theory is to justify a moral obligation to society.
The function of the social contract: To explain why there is any moral obligation
at all among people in society which will allow us to arrive at particular obligations
State of Nature: An analytical (not historical) device to examine the self-interested
behavior of rational egoistic individuals. State of nature examines how people would
behave in the absence of government, in conditions of scarcity. Hobbes says the
state of nature is a war of all against all.
Hobbes logic for the State of Nature being a war of all against all:
a) State of Nature characterized by the fact we are all more or less equal in our
abilities and the fear of death
b) Produces competition for the sake of individual gain
c) The absence of social or political ties leads to mistrust, produces desire for power
for the sake of individual security (not making agreements for security, as no one
trusts each other)
d) This creates a desire for glory for the sake of reputation
The most Fundamental laws in the State of Nature:
a) Each person must try and attain peace in any way possible
b) Each person must abide by the agreement/contract made
c) Each must lay down his or her right to all things promoting peace allowing others
the same amount of liberty
Natural Right: Each person has the liberty to use any means possible to preserve
his or her life.
Natural Law: A rule, found out by reason, by which a man is forbidden to do that
which is destructive to his life, or take away means of preserving his life.
- ex. One should not break covenants, it is detrimental to oneself.
Natural and Artificial Persons: Natural persons are rational individuals (such as
you and me). Artificial individuals are institutions (such as churches, orphanages).
Ownership of things can be transferred between the 2.
1 Analytical Requirements for Sovereignty: Sovereignty has multiple essential
features #1: the power is undivided; a single actor possesses it. #2: the power is
absolute it extends to all things. #3: the power is perpetual, it guarantees stability.
Consequences of Sovereignty:
1. Once a Government is established it cannot be changed
2. Sovereign power cannot be taken from a ruler
3. Actions of the sovereign cannot be questioned or changed, ever.
4. Sovereign power is above the law and unpunishable.
Freedom and Liberty: Certain rights, such as the natural right, cannot be
transferred no matter what.
No Fault Theory: The theory for conflict among rights. When the right of the
individual and state conflict, neither is deemed at fault, but the states right overrules
- Ex. The individuals right to refuse conscription vs. the states right to
Hobbes distinction between the author of an action and an agent:
Typically, a person is the author and agent of the deed. In some cases the author and
agent can be two different people. The distinction between the two is that the
author is the one responsible and the agent is the actor performing the deed but in
some cases did not authorize the deed.
Game theory/ Prisoners dilemma: It is the example Hobbes uses to justify
government. Two people are suspected for a crime and put into separate cells. If
both confess each will get 5 years. If one confesses he gets 1 year, and the other gets
10. If neither confesses they each get 3 years. Hobbes says the prisoners will both ac
in their own self interest and confess, but this outcome (each 5 years) is not optimal.
Hobbes says the solution is to set up an enforcement agency to make sure people
dont sell out their agreements for self interest (ie. A governnt).
Theory of ideas: All perceptions are either (a) impressions or (b) ideas.
Impressions: are produced by sensing and sentiment. Impressions are
distinguished from ideas in being more forceful and lively in themselves; it
roughly matches up with the distinction between feeling and thinking, present
experience and non-present experience (e. g. memory).
Ideas: are only produced through thinking. According to the copy thesis, all ideas
are copies of impressions. There are 2 types of ideas, simple ideas or complex ideas.
2Simple ideas: are just copies of impressions. Complex ideas: are constructed out of
simple ideas (an idea built up from other ideas, example: a gold mountain).
Missing Shade of Blue Objection: Assume that someone has never had an
impression of a particular shade of blue. Now arrange the other shades of blue in a
series, where each shade is the closest available shade to its predecessor, and where
the missing shade is absent from the closely-graduated series. Hume claims that
someone could (a) recognize that a shade was missing, and then (b) form the
corresponding idea of the missing shade, despite never having had the
corresponding impression. The problem with this argument stems from someone
constructing an idea without having a direct impression.
Relations of ideas: are things we can be certain about (demonstratively certain). It
consists of the sciences of Geometry, Algebra, and Arithmetic; and in short, every
affirmation that is either naturally or demonstratively certain. Propositions of this
kind are discoverable by the mere operation of thought, without dependence on
what is anywhere existent in the universe. Example: 2+3=5.
Matters of fact: are the second objects of human reason. There is no such evidence
of their truth, however great, of a like nature with relations of ideas. These are
things we cannot be certain about. Example: The cup is on the table, however we can
imagine the cup to be in someones hand.
Principle of Custom or Habit: the repetition of any particular events causes