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The Political Philosophers Philosophy Dr. Mark King
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
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
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
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
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
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
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?
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 ?
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.
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
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)