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ECON 205W Summer 2006 Prof. Cunningham

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1 ECON 205W Summer 2006 Prof. Cunningham
Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau ECON 205W Summer 2006 Prof. Cunningham

2 Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) Personal Background Most Important Writings:
The Elements of Law (1640) De Cive (The Citizen, 1642) Leviathan (1651) Overall Objectives: To put moral and political philosophy on a scientific basis Contribute to the stability, peace, and welfare of mankind

3 Approach Felt that earlier thinkers (excluding Machiavelli and certain others) had failed because they attempted to base their theories of society on mankind’s highest aspirations. Created a code of natural law as morally binding and determining the purpose of society. Separated his notion of natural law from human perfection. Develops a psychology of human passions or interests.

4 Approach (2) Believed he had uncovered the basis of human behavior and human nature. Used these as assumptions to build his theory. Believes people have competing interests, and this has implications. The “State of Nature.”

5 Implications To prevent chaos, society, though political and economic organization use the force and coercion to hold society together. People ought to be willing to give up the same rights as they expect others to give up, and out to be satisfied with just as much liberty with respect to others as others have with respect to them. Agreement to this by the members of society forms the social contract.

6 Social Contract The social contract is not between the citizens and the ruling power. It is a contract citizens make with each other to accept the rule of central authority. The minority accepts the majority decision. A society so united forms a single body, a commonwealth, a leviathan.

7 Social Contract (2) The ruler is the absolute authority.
Parts of the social contract process. Validity of the contact. The contract is binding only if its purpose is fulfilled—i.e., that the citizens are secure.

8 The Sovereign and Citizens
Rights of the sovereign: Enforcement of Law Legislative power Judicial power Sovereign is not subject to the laws. Citizens retain certain “inalienable rights” or “retained rights”

9 Entitlement Theory Distributive justice.
The guarantee of performance on contracts is the basis of all justice. Without respect for (private) property rights, everyone has a claim on everything, and chaos reigns. Justice is not equal outcomes, but rather equality of process and equality of opportunity.

10 Distributive Justice In the state of nature, people share a kind of equality. Inequality is a product of civil law. Regardless, people perceive themselves as equal, and will enter into contracts willingly only under equal terms. Doctrines of inequality don’t work.

11 Hobbes’ Economic Contributions
Focus on people as they are. Predecessor to Theory of Moral Sentiments (Smith) Entitlement theory of justice Basic of all justice is enforcement of property rights Social contract with retained rights Equality opportunity

12 John Locke (1632-1704) Background Basic ideas:
Rational agent model Coincidence of self-interest and general interest Reacts more to Sir Robert Filmer than to Hobbes. Locke’s message: All government is limited in its powers and exists only by the consent of the governed. All people are born free.

13 Great Works Two Treatises on Government (1690)
A Letter Concerning Toleration (1689) Some Considerations of the Consequences of the Lowering of Interest and Raising the Value of Money (1691)

14 Two Treatises on Gov’t Begins with the questions: Answers:
“What is political power? What is the appropriate end and objective of civil government? Answers: Political power is the right to make laws, enforcing them at penalty of death. Establishment of penalties related to regulating and preserving property and defending the commonwealth from foreign attack, all for the public good.

15 The State of Nature Contrast with Hobbes’ view.
The state of nature is a state of perfect freedom and equality. The world was never without political or social structure. Political and social structure arise naturally with humankind. People “… living together according to reason, without a common superior on earth with authority to judge between them, is properly the state of nature.”

16 The State of War It is the use of force without right.
In peace, there is no use of force without right. Allows that there are “inconveniences” in the state of nature in which people may need to be judges in their own case. It such situations, the state of nature may be indistinguishable from the state of war.

17 Self-Preservation Everyone should pursue their own preservation, but is also obligated to pursue the preservation of the rest of humankind. What if these duties conflict? Aggression against others if a violation of the law of nature. A course of conduct that tends toward self-preservation is in accord with nature, which is the law of nature.

18 Locke on Property Natural distribution
Theory of private property rights Begins with the assertion that every person owns themselves and their labor. This is the foundation of all other property. Property acquired through just acquisition, earned through use of self and labor. Means of limiting accumulation is only required if there is less than a superabundance. Only labor can create property. Transfer does not create property.

19 Locke on Money Money arises by mutual consent.
It is a social institution that arises our of mutual trust. Money arose and hastened the end of the common. Money encourages people to produce a surplus. Money is an ability to accumulate, leading to an inequality of wealth. People accept this because it is in the common interest.

20 The Economic Problem Nature is powerless to provide for its own main intention—the increase of mankind. Nature cannot extend its own limits. (Problem of scarcity?) People can make increase possible, solving the economic problem. The continuation of the natural state is impossible. Growth is necessary.

21 Political Power Must be limited. Majority rule. Separation of Powers.
There is no freedom where there is no law.

22 Key Contributions to Economics
Rational agent. In the long run, self-interest and general interest coincide. People are basically good, but self-interested. Ideal structure for society is to preserve property rights and let self-interest reign. Entitlement theory of distributive justice. Equal treatment and process. Focus on growth. Political power should be limited, but freedom and economic progress require law.

23 Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778)
Concerned with the relationship of the state and the individual. Believes that society is based upon some implicit contract. The contract delivers us from some “prior state of nature”. The contract implies that the ruler is the people’s agent, not their master.

24 Life and Work Rousseau’s life. Confessions (1784) Emile (1762)
The Social Contract (1762)

25 Rousseau’s View of Human Nature
Discourse on the Origin and Foundation of the Inequality of Mankind Civilization brought inequality and other evils. People have a sense of freedom, a faculty for self-improvement, a natural feeling of compassion and self-love. The key social bond has been the development of private property. “The first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground bethought himself of saying ‘this is mine’, and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil society.”

26 Human Nature (2) Private property is the source of all evil.
Establishment of the institution of private property lead to the establishment of society, government, and law. The only solution is to abandon private property.

27 Rousseau’s “State of Nature”
Before people lived in societies, their activities were largely dominated by unreflective pursuits of their own individual welfare. The principle concern of people was self-preservation. There were no rights or moral relations to be respected. Cooperation was impossible. In this environment, it is impossible for human character to develop, and people to rise above their base instincts.

28 Rousseau’s Social Contract
“Man is born free, and he is everywhere in chains.” The contract liberates people from the rude state of nature. Socialistic view of the relationship between the individual and society. The contract does not change people or their rights, but rather it offers guarantees. It guarantees “individualism” by prohibiting excessive individualism or self-interest. To Hobbes and Locke, political institutions are a necessary evil; to Rousseau they are a blessing.

29 Social Contract (2) People empower the state by their contract with the ruler. The citizens give the state (and society) complete control over themselves and their (individual) possessions. People give up independent interest by giving up authority to the state to enforce the collective interest of society. If the ruler or laws act other than in the interests of the whole of society, then the contract becomes void.

30 Social Contract (3) Society, through the social contract, reshapes (changes) the individual. It is not necessary that choices be made by a vote. Majority rule is not necessary. Leaders can act in the general interest without consulting the citizenry.

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