Unformatted text preview: e are bound by our biology, our culture, our circumstances, and our characters. It is no argument against freedom and autonomy to say, against so much of recent philosophy and ideology, that freedom and autonomy have their limits. Nor is it an argument or excuse for excessive government to insist that society is prior to individual rights. The Greeks had it right: to live a good life, live in a good society. The idea that the good life is something prior to and opposed to society as such is a bit of insanity that only the anonymity and agoraphobia of modern urban society could inspire. CONTRACTUALISM CAN ALIENATE US FROM OUR EMOTIONS Robert Solomon, Professor of Philosophy, University of Texas, A PASSION FOR JUSTICE, 1990, p.31-3. Throughout this book, I will have much to say about this hardly flattering model of "natural" humanity and the formation of society by way of a mutually agreed-upon contract. It is this model, in its many variations, that forms the foundation for just about every theory of justice now in the books or on the drawing boards. For now, however, I just want to point out the viciousness of the dichotomy it presumes--our natural inclinations (most of them selfish) on the one side, our social and contractual obligations and expectations on the other. It is, to begin with, a dubious distinction--between inclinations and obligations, between our natural existence and our social existence, between the natural disposition of our feelings and the rationality that allows us to form society and then live in it. But it is a vicious dichotomy, emotion versus reason, and these two classic metaphors-- the "state of nature" and "the social contract"--have a dangerous appeal for us. They make us distance ourselves from our emotions (falsely conceived of as "natural" and presocial) and encourage us to entertain the appealing fiction that we live in society by voluntary choice rather than just because we happened to be born...
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This document was uploaded on 11/20/2013.
- Fall '13