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The Social Contract 1 Jan Narveson - Beyreuth, July 4-6, 2008 Subject: general moral principles - in the social (or political) area of morals [not the.

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Presentation on theme: "The Social Contract 1 Jan Narveson - Beyreuth, July 4-6, 2008 Subject: general moral principles - in the social (or political) area of morals [not the."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Social Contract 1 Jan Narveson - Beyreuth, July 4-6, 2008 Subject: general moral principles - in the social (or political) area of morals [not the Meaning of Life] 1. Foundational theories Naturalism Intuitionism Reason - rational intuition (again) - good reasons anti-foundationalism Q: what are reasons? - considerations which move to action... [- An important an much-discussed question: is reason a normative concept? Is it irreducible?... Thomas Scanlon thinks so... see What We Owe to Each Other]

2 The Social Contract 2 Jan Narveson - Beyreuth, July 4-6, Why the Social Contract social morality: notionally universal -> good reasons for all -> requires agreement - especially because people are different -> so this is conditional hence, "contract" - in the game-theoretic sense, not in the historical sense The general idea is: morality is that set of rules that we would all rationally accept, provided that all others do too 3. Human Nature People have a wide variety of (a) interests (b) powers (c) we take it that their interests at least include self-interest and note that many resources or conditions are widely useful almost regardless of specific powers [liberty is one; money is another] (d) those powers are indefinitely expansible by training, experience, education (e) we can communicate extensively with each other (and not with any other animate species)

3 The Social Contract 3 Jan Narveson - Beyreuth, July 4-6, Reason (Practical) The Syllogism: (1) an evaluative premise (one among many): S is good [or: I like, or want, or desire, x] [and, other things are equal....] (2) a set of factual premises: x is within my powers x will bring about S (3) conclusion: do x! [question: sould it be thicker??] Pareto: if S is better for some, worse for none, then S is chosen over all alternatives of which that is not true. Why Pareto? - because we have nothing to lose, and something to gain.

4 The Social Contract 4 Jan Narveson - Beyreuth, July 4-6, The state of nature: essentially, this is the status quo antecedent (whatever it is) For the general purposes of fundamental theory, we assume nothing about the norms in the S of N - there are none. [In a sense, anything goes. Hobbes says every man hath right to every thing, even another mans body. ] But this cant be meant in any normative sense, unless this: no ones complaint is legitimate, against any incursion whatever. We have liberties but no rights. Liberty is absence of interference. But the S of N is full of interference! These are liberties in the sense that there is no systematical social force, or rules, to prevent them.] e.g. Hobbesian state of nature Locke wins over Hobbes re basic morals and the S of N Contrast: Rawls, who says the agreement is between free and equal persons in a democratic culture They have diverse basic views of life, and the agreement is (a) behind a veil of ignorance and (b) an overlapping consensus Question: does it matter whether these assumptions are true?

5 The Social Contract 5 Jan Narveson - Beyreuth, July 4-6, Hobbes: (1) State of Nature is a Prisoners Dilemma: - our excessive liberty is the problem - A prefers to retain his while B surrenders hers - Everyone is A - Nobody surrendering it is terrible for everyone - It is irrational for B to surrender if A does not - A and B both do better if both surrender it - A and B both know this - So, rationally, each will do so provided the other does [Interesting philosophical question: - But, ˆcan we surrender it at all? - can we effect changes in our own dispositions? (a) it seems that the answer is yes, at least in most of our cases (b) the contractarian idea is that we can see reason to do this - given good enough reason, we do it (c) that reason has to be benefit to the individual doing it (d) the benefit in question is contingent on the other persons cooperation

6 The Social Contract 6 Jan Narveson - Beyreuth, July 4-6, Theories about the terms of the social contract -> libertarianism (Rawls "system of natural liberty") a la Hobbes - anything else? problems with that.... lib represents the minimum of rationally acceptable grounds for intervention in the lives of others... - more than the minimum is so because it is too costly for some, and unanimity is notionally required claim: libertarianism Pareto-dominates all other theories, and also the S of N. A is better off if B doesnt use force against A A may not be better off if B imposes further requirements on A: what if A would not benefit from agreeing to help B in return for Bs agreeing to help A? 8. John Rawls thinks his framework leads to a two principles approach: a) system of maximal equal liberties b) (i) require equal opportunity and open offices b ii: system to be of maximum benefit to the least advantaged Numerous serious problems with that....

7 The Social Contract 7 Jan Narveson - Beyreuth, July 4-6, Enforcement For those who insist on living by force, we use force [How much would we have? Perhaps, quite a lot, since we all have reason not to allow coercion] Do we sign up for general acceptance of a central enforcer - government? - Hobbes thinks that is necessary. But it does not seem to be [cf. De Jasay, Social Contract, Free Ride] - some agreements are self-enforcing - third-party enforcement possible in others - why would government do it? - and why would it do it better? Can the SC work without reinforcement? - This will work only if we can trust each other - But what is reinforcement? -- force -- loss of positive treatment from others - - criticism (verbal and otherwise) -- assumption: we have ways of making people uncomfortable, embarrassed, or afraid of losing valuable things -- those are what we deploy in morality

8 The Social Contract 8 Jan Narveson - Beyreuth, July 4-6, What is the force of the Social Contract? - if all find p rational, then all have some motivation... two departments of morals: a) being moral (doing what the agreed on principles call for) b) administrative: trying to get others to live up to them (b) has more appeal than (a)... [its cheaper: talk is cheap... - but talk is commitive: others assume you mean what you say! - reputation spreads The Cheering Section [or, Greek chorus] The idea of morals is: we criticize each others behavior, along predictable lines People can avoid the criticism by doing the right thing - Also earn psychological points by doing it Talk is cheaper than action Lots of talk has quite a lot of effect

9 The Social Contract 9 Jan Narveson - Beyreuth, July 4-6, Example: Slavery Suppose that one subset of people is in a position to enslave another subset. If they can manage that, wouldnt it be rational for them to do so? Would the social contract allow this? I argue that it is irrational to embrace a morality that wouldnt condemn slavery, but I dont argue that it would be irrational to do this. The social contract in its standard version is universal. Slavery is coercive and it is irrational to allow oneself to be generally coerced. It is not irrational to subscribe to a rule on the understanding that it will be enforced. To make slavery allowable, the technology prevailing would have to be such that only slave labor could keep a substantial populace alive. Then it would be a matter of luck who got enslaved and who didnt. 12. Hobbes Postulate: equal vulnerability [As to strength of body, the weakest has enough to kill the strongest - but how far does that take us?]

10 The Social Contract 10 Jan Narveson - Beyreuth, July 4-6, Beyond Justice Social contract calls for supporting philanthropy, charity... Thats because anyone might benefit from others helpful acts and nobody being required to do them, we dont incur costs (that is, costs we are not willing to pay)

11 The Social Contract 11 Jan Narveson - Beyreuth, July 4-6, 2008 Games that Shape the World Zero-Sum B x y x 1, 0 1, 0 A y 0, 1 0, 1 Co-ordination B x y x 1, 1 0, 0 A y 0, 0 1, 1 Battle of the Sexes (Imperfect Coordination) B x y x 1, 2 4, 3 A y 3, 4 2, 1 Prisoners Dilemma B Co-operate Defect Co-operate 2nd 2nd 4th, 1st A Defect 1st, 4th 3rd, 3rd Chicken B Co-operate Defect Co-operate 2nd 2nd 3rd, 1st A Defect 1st, 3rd 4th, 4th


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