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The Political Philosophers Philosophy Dr. Mark King.

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1 The Political Philosophers Philosophy Dr. Mark King

2 Political Philosophy  Study of Politics, Liberty, justice, property, rights, laws  That which makes governments legitimate  Similar to political ideology: sub-discipline of political science  Key Enlightenment figures:  Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, David Hume, Emmanuel Kant, Jean-Jacques Rousseau

3 Thomas Hobbes: 1588-1679 Intro  Key work Leviathan: established modern idea of social contract theory  Argued that natural rights could only be protected by an absolute monarch due to savage State of Nature (?)  Also developed idea of natural rights of individual  Wrote during English Civil War

4 Social Contract Theory  Idea that individuals give consent to giving up certain freedoms and submit to authority of the ruler(s), state, etc, in exchange for protection of their remaining rights  The relationship between natural and legal rights is central to social contract theory  With Hobbes, Political Obligation subsumed to Religious Obligation (?)  Idea that political authority is derived from religious authority: Divine Monarchy

5 John Locke: 1632-1704  Founder of Modern Empiricism  Critiqued and expanded Hobbes’ idea of the social contract:  rejected Hobbes idea that individual’s rights could only be guaranteed by the Sovereign

6 Locke cont  Difference with Hobbes centered on right of citizens to revolt against their king if rights (to liberty) not honored and protected  *For Locke, the Natural State ( State of Nature ) of Man is perfect and complete liberty to live one’s life as one sees fit, free from interference from others  Persons assumed to be equal  Does not mean individuals are free to do whatever they want

7 Law and State of Nature  The basis of all morality grounded in this, and given to us by God  Law of Nature commands us to do no harm to others with regards to their “life, liberty, or possessions”  We cannot take away from a person what is rightfully his  Locke: State of Nature is a state of Liberty  Hobbes: State of Nature is naturally a state of War

8 Nature of Society?  Seen in many ways as an escape from State of Nature  Society not made up of individuals but of families (conjugal societies)  Wider society based on a voluntary agreement to raise children (moral, not political agreements)  Political Society comes when individual men (representing their families), come together and agree to give up executive power to punish those who transgress the Law of Nature  Then become subject to will of the majority  What if majority is wrong, corrupt?

9 Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy  Social Contract Theory  Views that persons' moral and/or political obligations are dependent upon a contract or agreement to form the society in which they live.  Socrates uses something quite like a social contract argument to explain to Crito why he must remain in prison and accept the death penalty.  Theory is rightly associated with modern moral and political  Is one of the most dominant theories within moral and political theory throughout the history of the modern West.  Kantian version of social contract theory ?

10 Recent Critiques of Classic Social Contract Theory  Feminist and race-conscious philosophers have offered new criticisms  Have argued the “social contract” is at least an incomplete picture of our moral and political lives  In fact, it may camouflage ways that the powerful justify their subjugations of classes of persons.

11 Jean-Jacques Rousseau

12 A Theory of Justice  A variation of Kant’s theory the social contract  Justice as Fairness: Rawls calls for a principled reconciliation of liberty and equality  Principles of Justice are called upon to guide each party involved  Assumes all parties face moderate scarcity


14 First Essays  Has the advancement of the Sciences and arts improved morals?  Short answer: the advancement of civilization has corrupted the natural goodness of human beings  Progress inevitably leads to moral degeneration  Very controversial: went against a basic assumption of the Enlightenment that the best hope for humanity is progress, which occurs as societies throws off the past dominated by superstition and myth (i.e.: religion)

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