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The Role of Government  Hobbes Justice only exists though government Life without government is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”  Thoreau:

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Presentation on theme: "The Role of Government  Hobbes Justice only exists though government Life without government is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”  Thoreau:"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Role of Government  Hobbes Justice only exists though government Life without government is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”  Thoreau: “That government is best which governs least”

2 Political Philosophies  Justification of government  The nature of justice  The individual versus the state  Civil disobedience

3 Anarchism  Naive anarchism: people can live in peace without government  Militant anarchism: government is unjustified and must be overthrown  Theoretical anarchism: government has no legitimate authority, but may be necessary

4 Robert Paul Wolff's In Defense of Anarchism  Authority means the right to command and to be obeyed  An autonomous person makes moral decisions and lives by them  An autonomous person cannot recognize an outside authority, such as the state

5 Social Contract Theory  Hobbes’ Leviathan Human nature is warlike Peace is achieved by forming contracts  Locke’s An Essay Concerning the True Original, Extent and End of Civil Government Some rights are inalienable Governments exist to protect our rights

6 The Question of Justice  Retributive justice: the proper allotment of punishment proportionate to the severity of a crime  Distributive justice: the proper distribution of benefits and burdens

7 Justice as Merit  Justice means people get what they are due according to their merit  Plato Meritocracy: political power is proportional to merit Democracy is equivalent to mob rule Intellectual elite should rule society The Republic

8 Justice as Conformity to Natural Law  Natural law transcends human conventions  All morally aware people can recognize natural law  Aquinas’ Summa Theologica

9 Justice as Social Utility: John Stuart Mill  Principle of utility: a just society will minimize social harms and maximize social benefits  Utilitarianism People maintain many conflicting theories of justice Utility should be the deciding factor

10 Justice as Fairness: John Rawls  People possessing merit are just lucky and should not be rewarded  Criticism of utilitarianism: majority should not win at expense of minority  Justice is accepted only if it is seen as fair

11 Rawls’ A Theory of Justice  Original Position: what if we could create our own society?  Veil of ignorance: no one would know one’s social position in advance  Principles of justice Equal liberty Fair equality of opportunity

12 A Feminist Critique of Rawls  Susan Moller Okin  Justice, Gender, and the Family Rawls fails to address gender inequality What if those on the original position don’t know what sex they will be?

13 The Individual and the State  Extreme positions Anarchism Absolute totalitarianism  Moderate positions Individualism Collectivism

14 Classical Liberalism  Freedom of the individual  John Stuart Mill: On Liberty Power is only justifiable when used to prevent harm to others People must be free to seek happiness by their own methods

15 Marxism  Economics is the root of human existence  Class struggle is constant through history  Capitalism exploits the workers  History is a dialectical process  Capitalism will undermine itself and lead to communism

16 Marx’s Communist Manifesto  Society is based on the struggle of bourgeoisie and proletariat  Calls for abolition of private property  Philosophies are shaped by material existence  Proletariat must wrest all capital from the bourgeoisie

17 Civil Disobedience  An illegal action performed for the purpose of making a moral protest  Must be public  Protesters generally should be willing to accept consequences  Generally nonviolent

18 The Case against Civil Disobedience  A violation of the social contract  Majority rule  Ends that do not justify the means  Other alternatives

19 Plato's Crito  Disobeying the law is exchanging evil for evil  A state cannot exist if the laws have no power  By living in a place we agree to abide by its laws

20 The Case for Civil Disobedience  Preservation of moral integrity  The duty to combat immorality  A means of social progress  No practical alternative  Government may exceed its authority

21 Mohandas K. Gandhi  Opposed discriminatory laws  Helped end British governance of India  Nonviolent resistance - satyagraha

22 Gandhi’s Young India  If a leader is unjust, the subjects have a duty to disobey  Imprisonment is better than freedom won through acceptance of injustice  Civil Disobedience must never descend into general lawlessness

23 Martin Luther King Jr.  Helped overturn segregation laws and pass the Civil Rights Act  Letter from Birmingham Jail Direct action is used to force negotiation An unjust law violates the moral law or law of God


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