Values File

It is a theory that has become labyrinthine in its

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Unformatted text preview: SOCIAL EXISTENCE Robert Solomon, Professor of Philosophy, University of Texas, A PASSION FOR JUSTICE, 1990, p.61. What does it mean to talk to individuals capable of bargaining and making the most sophisticated negotiations apart from their socialization and education in a particular kind of society? We can appreciate the importance of shared agreement and mutual concern in society, but why should we think that this is or should be the very nature of society as such? We can applaud society's individuality and autonomy, but do we have to pretend that these traits constitute human nature as such? We falsely ontologize our independence, and we falsify the very essence of our existence, which is not to be individuals with interests but to be social beings who define ourselves in terms of our attachments, affections, and social identities. THE SOCIAL CONTRACT MYTH IS FALSE TO OUR SOCIAL NATURE Robert Solomon, Professor of Philosophy, University of Texas, A PASSION FOR JUSTICE, 1990, p.59-60. This pair of myths and metaphors--the "state of nature" and "the social contract"--dominates and has dominated the literature on justice since the seventeenth century, though such ideas have been around since ancient times. The appeal of the myth, whatever its other virtues or defects, is that it emphasizes an image of the individual's relationship to society and other people that we find particularly appealing--a relationship of mutual agreement and consent. Indeed, the idea that citizens necessarily participate in the formation and continuation of society has become so powerful that it no longer seems like an idea--much less a difficult and controversial idea--but rather a working definition of what it means for something to be a "society." The idea is that we are not trapped in society the way we are (for the moment) trapped on our planet, by virtue of being born there. We are, on this theory, all Americans or Britons or Frenchmen, Texans or Iowans or Californians by choice; we choose our governments, and we choose to be citizens and obey the law, by mutual agree...
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