Presentation on theme: "Ethics—The Basics by John Mizzoni"— Presentation transcript:
1 Ethics—The Basics by John Mizzoni CHAPTER FOUR:SOCIAL CONTRACT ETHICS
2 Ethics—The Basics SOCIAL CONTRACT ETHICS Is it wrong to choose NOT to donate blood, which saves the lives of others?
3 Ethics—The Basics SOCIAL CONTRACT ETHICS According to Social Contract Ethics (SCE), the “laws of nature” demonstrate that human beings are naturally selfish.There seem to be major differences between SCE and Natural Law Ethics (NLE) WHAT IS SOCIAL CONTRACT ETHICS?
4 Ethics—The Basics SOCIAL CONTRACT ETHICS According to SCE, ethics is about participating in a “social contract.”Social Contract Theory was developed by Thomas Hobbes in the 17th century.WHO IS THOMAS HOBBES?
5 Ethics—The Basics SOCIAL CONTRACT ETHICS Thomas Hobbes was the foremost British philosopher of the 17th centuryHobbes proposed a view of moralitythat was completely divorced fromreligion ( )There was a desire to appear separate and distinct from the Roman Catholic Church (Cf. “Of Religion” Ch. 12 of Hobbes’ Leviathan).Hobbes was influenced by modern scientific thoughtWHO IS THOMAS HOBBES?
6 Ethics—The Basics SOCIAL CONTRACT ETHICS THE SOCIAL CONTRACT TRADITIONThomas Hobbes was the “founder” of the Social Contract tradition in ethics, although Socratic roots can be found in Plato (Crito, The Republic)17th c. Thomas Hobbes ( ) British18th c. John Locke ( ) British, influenced USAJean-Jacques Rousseau ( ) Swiss20th c. John Rawls ( ) AmericanJan Narveson ( ) American
7 Ethics—The Basics SOCIAL CONTRACT ETHICS NATURAL LAW ETHICSSOCIAL CONTRACT ETHICSHuman reason is importantConcern with human inclinationsLife (self-preservation) + reproduction are natural inclinationsGod is the creator of our rationally ordered universeGod is not considered; the universe is what it isHuman nature is naturally goodHuman nature is nasty + brutishBased on AristotleRejects AristotleSociability + knowledge are natural inclinationsSociability + knowledge are ideal inclinations
8 Ethics—The Basics SOCIAL CONTRACT ETHICS Aquinas and Hobbes agreed on the importance of the human inclination to self-preservation, BUT they had very different views of human nature.Hobbes thought that Aquinas and Aristotle idealize human nature, rather than confront realityHobbes thought that human lives are “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” (Leviathan, Ch. 13)Hobbes thought that, in reality, all human nature IS motivated only by self-interestThis theory, that all human nature is motivated only by self-interest, is called PSYCHOLOGICAL EGOISM8
9 Ethics—The Basics SOCIAL CONTRACT ETHICS ETHICAL EGOISM, unlike PSYCHOLOGICAL EGOISM, states that human beings SHOULD BE motivated by the PRINCIPLE OF SELF-INTEREST.It states this is how people OUGHT to behaveIt states that this is the RIGHT way to behaveTHE PRINCIPLE OF SELF-INTEREST (ETHICAL EGOISM): One ought always to do whatever is in one’s best interest.ETHICAL EGOISM IS NOT PSYCHOLOGICAL EGOISMETHICAL EGOISM IS NOT EGOTISM9
10 Ethics—The Basics SOCIAL CONTRACT ETHICS Aquinas and Hobbes ALSO had very different views about the natural world.Hobbes’ thinking was based on the science of his day, and unlike that of Aquinas or Aristotle, it found NO PLAN or DESIGN for the natural world, and NO UNIQUE PURPOSE for man as a part of that world.Hobbes tried to explain the development of human institutions by imagining human life without them—in a “state of nature,” where people are free to do whatever they need to do in order to preserve themselves—without the rule of law.10
11 Ethics—The Basics SOCIAL CONTRACT ETHICS Theological world view Usually emphasizes how human beings are distinct from the natural world Scientific world view Usually emphasizes how human beings are part of the natural world11
12 Ethics—The Basics SOCIAL CONTRACT ETHICS Hobbes thought that in a state of nature there is NO NATURAL MORAL LAW.If we accept the concept of Psychological Egoism, then every human being has the same tendency; we are equal, and we are equally vulnerable to each other.The only laws are those we all agree to follow.Hobbes thought that in a state of nature there is NO NATURAL INCLINATION TO DEVELOP VIRTUE12
13 Ethics—The Basics SOCIAL CONTRACT ETHICS Hobbes thought that A STATE OF NATURE IS REALLY A STATE OF WAR, when everyone is pursuing his or her own interests without regard for the needs or concerns of others. According to Hobbes, in the state of nature:There is no right or wrong, no just or unjust, so we cannot object to the choices of others.There is nothing wrong with psychological egoism or ethical egoism.13
14 Ethics—The Basics SOCIAL CONTRACT ETHICS However, Hobbes realized that in a state of nature, in a state of war, no one can get what they really want—security, stability, and creature comforts.Because they are rational creatures, humans will invent ways to escape from the state of natureThey will enter into mutually beneficial contracts/alliances with othersThey realize that through these contracts they have a better chance to get what they want.14
15 Ethics—The Basics SOCIAL CONTRACT ETHICS For Hobbes, humans cooperate because they realize they have a better chance of getting what they want if they make agreements with each other—e.g., barter.For Hobbes, there are only two kinds of law–Scientific laws of natureHuman-made laws15
16 Ethics—The Basics SOCIAL CONTRACT ETHICS ETHICAL EGOISMRULE-EGOISM (SCE)I’m lookin’ out for #1!You scratch my back and I ‘ll scratch yours!Rational egoismPrinciple of Self-InterestPrinciple of the Social ContractSelf-centerednessReciprocityPermits “evil” actionsLimits evil actions to a contract
17 Ethics—The Basics SOCIAL CONTRACT ETHICS For Hobbes, rationality is necessary for philosophical ethics:People can only make agreements with each other, not with animalsPeople need rationality to understand the consequences of their actions17
18 Ethics—The Basics SOCIAL CONTRACT ETHICS For Hobbes, words are not enough to enforce contracts; a “sword” is necessary as well:This is because even rational beings sometimes break contractsLaws, penalties, police—i.e., governments—are the “sword”18
19 Ethics—The Basics SOCIAL CONTRACT ETHICS For an effective contract, it mustBe between rational individuals who understand the terms of the contract, and can agree to themHave some mechanism in place to penalize violations of the contract19
20 Ethics—The Basics SOCIAL CONTRACT ETHICS Social Contract Ethics endorses “common-sense morality”:Do not killDo not break promises; do not deceiveDo not stealWHY IS THIS “COMMON SENSE”?Hobbes sums this up in a “Principle of Reciprocity”20
21 Ethics—The Basics SOCIAL CONTRACT ETHICS The “Principle of Reciprocity” is like the “Golden Rule”:“Do not that to another which thou wouldest not have done to thyselfe” (Leviathan, CH 15: “A Rule…”)Contractarians claim that the reason for helping others is not altruism, but enlightened egoism21
22 Ethics—The Basics SOCIAL CONTRACT ETHICS SCE, or rule-egoism, can be seen in most world religions:The covenants/contracts of God with man in Western religions (e.g. Judaism, Christianity, Islam)The concept of “karma” in many Eastern religions (e.g. Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism)22
23 Ethics—The Basics SOCIAL CONTRACT ETHICS However, since SCE is non-religious, it focuses on the present life, and on present society:“Do I want to live in a society where people do not get prosecuted for crimes?”“Suppose everybody did that…”23
24 Ethics—The Basics SOCIAL CONTRACT ETHICS SCE claims to:Put common-sense morality on a solid footingGive the best explanation of why we follow the ethical rules we doExplain why we should follow ethical rules24
25 Ethics—The Basics SOCIAL CONTRACT ETHICS SCE claims to be ethically universalist, not ethically relativist: Since the framework of SCE can fit a variety of different standards in a variety of different contracts in a variety of different cultures, it claims to be universally applied.25
26 Ethics—The Basics SOCIAL CONTRACT ETHICS SCE does not argue for blind obedience to the rules and laws of a society. When the rules and laws of society are bad (unjust), civil disobedience and wars of independence can be justified, according to SCE.26
27 Ethics—The Basics SOCIAL CONTRACT ETHICS Justice is an ethical concept that is used to explain whether a social contract is good or bad.Managing the terms of a social contract is a balancing act, between obeying the contract, and modifying it to be just to allWe must follow the rules if they are reasonable rules for rational selfish beings to follow27
28 Ethics—The Basics SOCIAL CONTRACT ETHICS SCE provides answers to the four philosophical problems of ethics:With regard to human nature, it accepts psychological egoism, and argues that all human beings are ultimately rational egoistsIt accepts cultural relativism and ethical universalism, but not ethical relativism28
29 Ethics—The Basics SOCIAL CONTRACT ETHICS With regard to the origin of ethics, it theorizes that all ethical standards come from human beings, who created these standards by making contractsWith regard to the problem of right and wrong, SCE holds that a rule for action (a contract) is right if it justly benefits you and others, and wrong if it is unjust29
30 Ethics—The Basics SOCIAL CONTRACT ETHICS The Appeal of SCE:Takes the mystery out of ethics, making it practical and down to earthMakes it clear how morality can be rational and objective even if there are no moral factsExplains why we should care about ethicsGives us a sensible and mature way of determining our ethical dutiesAssumes relatively little about human nature30
31 Ethics—The Basics SOCIAL CONTRACT ETHICS The Advantages of SCE:Tells us what moral rules to follow, and how they are justifiedTells us why it is reasonable for us to follow moral rulesTells us under what circumstances it is rational to break the moral rules (reciprocity is the key)Tells us how much morality can demand of us (we must be impartial)31
32 Ethics—The Basics SOCIAL CONTRACT ETHICS The Disadvantages of SCE:It is anthropocentric—only “rational beings” (i.e. rational human beings) are considered…According to SCE, morality consists in the rules that rational people accept provided others accept them.WHAT HAPPENS IF OTHERS DO NOT ACCEPT THESE MORAL RULES?Although SCE appears to deny “moral facts,” it actually postulates them, i.e., defining “benefit.”32
33 Ethics—The Basics SOCIAL CONTRACT ETHICS More Disadvantages of SCE:One common objection is that SCE is based on a historical fiction, i.e., the “state of nature.”What about duties toward beings who are not able to participate in the contract, such as babies, animals, persons in non-rational states?Since SCE is based on egoism, what about “free riders”—people who wish to benefit from the rules, but will violate them is they can get away with the violation (ethical egoism)?33
34 Ethics—The Basics SOCIAL CONTRACT ETHICS Disadvantages of Ethical Egoism:Ethical Egoism violates the Principle of Impartiality, or Equal TreatmentThe Principle of Impartiality is that we should regard all others as equals to ourselves. This means to treat all persons in the same way unless there is a relevant difference between them.Ethical Egoism calls each of us to divide everything into two categories—myself and all the rest—and to treat the concerns of those in the first group as more important than the concerns of those in the second group.Ethical Egoism endorses wicked actions—as long as that those actions benefit the person who performs them.34
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