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Leviathan: Justice and the Social Contract

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1 Leviathan: Justice and the Social Contract
Thomas Hobbes ( ) Leviathan: Justice and the Social Contract

2 Imagine a man who existed in an island all alone.
Man in Solitude Imagine a man who existed in an island all alone. For him there could be no conception of justice. Justice is a notion that arises only from relations within society.

3 State of Nature Hobbes’ state of nature is one in which there is no government or authority, no laws, and no agent who can enforce the laws. State of nature would lead to a state of war. In a state of war life would be terrible for everyone. The state of nature is the worse condition humans could possibly be in.

4 Rights of Nature A right is a liberty. This means that you are free to act or refrain from acting. The first and basic right of nature is the liberty each person has for the preservation of his own life. The right to life.

5 Lex naturale Laws are obligations. First Law: Seek Peace
Laws of Nature Lex naturale Laws are obligations. First Law: Seek Peace

6 State of Nature In a state of nature there is no common power (i.e., no government or authority). There are no laws or rules. There is only “Force and Fraud” There is no such thing as justice in a state of nature.

7 State of Nature Since everyone is free to preserve there own life (has that right), a person can do whatever it takes to do so. Therefore, in such a state “every man has a right to every thing; even to one another’s body.”

8 Man searches for security
“It is a precept, or general rule of reason that every man, ought to endeavor peace, as far as he have hope of obtaining it; and when he cannot obtain it, that he may seek, and use, all helps, and advantages of war.”

9 First Law and Right of Nature
Law of nature: Seek peace Right of nature: Defend yourself

10 Second Law “That a man be willing, when others are so too, as far-forth, as for peace, and defense of himself he shall find it necessary, to lay down this right to all things; and be contented with so much liberty against other men, as he would allow other men against himself.” Create a social contract.

11 Do unto others as you would like them to do to you.
Second Law Do unto others as you would like them to do to you. The social contract is motivated by self-interest. We give up some of our rights (if others also give up their corresponding rights) because it is in our benefit to do so.

12 Rights one cannot renounce
Some rights one can never renounce, such as the right to defend oneself. Any contract that takes away this right can never be enforced.

13 “That men perform their covenants made.”
Third Law of Nature “That men perform their covenants made.” We should follow that rules and laws we created in the social contract.

14 The Fountain of Justice
Justice arises out of these Laws of Nature and the covenants men establish voluntarily. These covenants are not valid if there exists insecurity in the mutual performance of these covenants.

15 Coercive Power & Commonwealth
Before justice and injustice exist, a coercive power must be established “to compel men equally to the performance of their covenants, by terror of some punishment, greater than the benefit they expect by the breach of their covenant.” Such coercive power requires the construction of a COMMONWAELTH

16 An agreement among a group of people (social contract)
Commonwealth An agreement among a group of people (social contract) The group elects a man or assembly of men to be their representative. The representative is granted the authority to act on the groups behalf

17 Common Wealth The representative will take whatever action is needed so the group can live peacefully and be protected against other men. The actions of the representatives are as if they were the actions of every individual of the group who elected the him (or them).

18 Summary State of Nature: everything goes 1st law of nature: seek peace
1st right of nature: defend yourself 2nd law of nature: establish a covenant (social contract) in which you give up part of your liberties as long as others also give up theirs. 3rd obey the covenant: Establish a commonwealth that can provide the necessary coercive power to guarantee the covenant is obeyed (security).

19 Prisoner’s Dilemma Smith and you are arrested.
They ask you to testify against Smith. If you testify and he does not testify against you, you will be free to go and he will get 10 years in prison. If you testify against him and he testifies against you, you will both get 5 years. If you do not testify against him and he does not testify against you, you will both be held for one year and set free. If you do not testify against him and he testifies against you, you will get 10 years and he will be set free.

20 You cannot talk to Smith
What is your best option?

21 best Option Smith Does not testify Testifies You testify (5)
You do not (10) You testify (0) Do not (1)

22 First Conclusion The prisoners dilemma shows that the best decision (the one that is in your self-interest), given the total lack of cooperation and communication with Smith, is to testify against him.

23 Second Conclusion Communication and cooperation with smith, however, points to a different result. If you were able to come to some kind of agreement with Smith, the best result for both of you would be that nether testify. However, agreement would not be enough, because if Smith knows that you are not going to testify against him, and nothing prevents him from testifying against you, then the best thing for him is to testify against you. Therefore, the best result needs both cooperation and enforcement.

24 Social Contract Theory of Morality
There are some advantages to the social contract theory of Morality The creation and existence of moral rules are rationally justified. People’s obedience to the moral rules is rationally justified. There are clear criteria for when we can break the moral rules (e.g., against criminals). It sets rational limits to how much morality can ask of us.

25 Civil Disobedience Civil disobedience occurs when a person, as a form of protest, intentionally breaks what they perceive to be an unjust law. This strategy can be criticized: if your intention is to foster a just and civil society, intentionally breaking laws that you believe to be unjust, can be counter productive. Gandhi and King were two moral leaders that participated in civil disobedience.

26 Civil Disobedience and Social Contract Theory
Social contract theory can actually serve to support the legitimacy of civil disobedience. The argument, according to contract theory, is that the only justification for why I give up the natural liberties I possess (and every human being possess) is because by doing so I will be benefitted. In other words, giving up my natural liberties will produce a life style that is better than the state of nature. However, if the laws within the social contract are not applied fairly, and they make my life worse off rather than better off, I am released from the contract.

27 Problems with Social Contract
The social contract is merely a fictitious and imaginative idea. There are groups of people who could never enter into a social contract because they have nothing to offer. These people would not be protected and this our natural liberties toward them would have no limits. Some might argue that there is a conception of justice that transcends the social contract.

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