2 The origin of the stateHow does political organization begin? Why have a state at all?HistoricalPhilosophical: imagine being without it – what reason is there to bring it about?‘State of nature’: no political organization, no lawsEveryone is ‘free’; how do we become bound by laws?
3 Hobbes on state of nature Self-preservationConflict of ‘natural right’Justice depends on lawsState of ‘war’Life is ‘solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short’
4 Hobbes on contractSelf-preservation is threatened: it is rational to agree to political organization‘Laws of Nature’: rationality in the service of self-interestFirst: ‘That every man, ought to endeavour Peace, as farre as he has hope of obtaining it; and when he cannot obtain it, that he may seek, and use, all helps, and advantages of Warre’Agree with others to give up natural right and submit to law
5 Why agree? Egoism: because it is in my self-interest Contractarianism: the state is the result of an agreement about how to behave that people have reached because they realise it is in their self-interestThis is also ‘rational’: it is rational to do what benefits oneself
6 The social contractBetter not to be harmed by others – hence constraints on others’ behaviour; but better not to be constrainedSolution: agree to constraints given that others agree; not best for me, but best I can getBut before we have agreed, how can we trust others to keep the contract?Irrational emotionsShort-sighted
7 Prisoner’s Dilemma Barry confesses Barry doesn’t confess Adam confessesBoth get 7 yearsAdam is free, Barry gets 10 yearsAdam doesn’t confessAdam gets 10 years, Barry is freeBoth get 2 years
8 The ‘free rider’ problem In a situation of trust, if everyone else is acting morally, it is even better to act self-interestedly – at least if you can get away with it.But how can I trust others to keep the contract?The contract is collectively in everyone’s self-interest, but it is in each person’s self-interest to break the agreement – knowing this, we won’t trust each other!8
9 Locke on state of nature Law of Nature is moral: no person may subordinate another, harm his life, health, liberty or possessions (except in self-defence), and furthermore, that we should help each other when this does not harm ourselvesNo scarcity: each can provide for themselves, and prefer this over violenceBut what if some are violent?
10 Contract and punishment Equality: we all have the right to punish violations of the Law of NatureBut can we enforce punishment?Three problems:Disagreements on violationsBiased applicationLack of powerState solves these problems
11 What kind of state?Hobbes: we can only be sure that people will keep the contract if they are forced toState must have the power to create and enforce whatever laws it judges are necessaryAbsolute sovereign: a single person or political body on whom there are no restraints of law.Locke: this is more dangerous than state of natureOnly rational to agree to some form of democracy, in which equality and liberty are preserved
12 ObjectionsSocial contract theory is an unhelpful fiction, because social organization is natural for usBecause it is natural, we don’t need to justify it – we never gave up natural freedomHume on cooperation: We need more than we can provide ourselvesWe lack powerWe lack abilityWe can face misfortune
13 Objections Working as a group: We have greater power, through division of labourWe can get what we can’t produce ourselves, through exchange of goodWe can provide mutual support through misfortuneRules of justice and punishment are also in our self-interest, and evolve as a result