Utilitarianism says that, of the actions open to you, the
morally correct one is that which brings about the most
overall utility (=happiness).
Founder of utilitarianism = Bentham (1748-1832).
Bentham: Subjects should obey so long as the
John Stuart Mill on Liberty (Part One)
Mills Harm Principle: The only purpose for which
power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a
civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm
Restrictions: doesnt apply to children and
Marxs Critique of Individual Rights
Basic idea = having a sense of community is essential to
human well-being (man is a communal being).
What is it to have a sense of community? Marx doesnt
go into detail here, but we might add some detail for
Locke on Property Rights
Recall Locke's state of nature = a condition of equality.
But then where do property rights come from? How do
unowned items from nature become owned?
Call this The Initial Acquisition Puzzle.
Locke's response wholly clear. 4 stran
Hobbes: state of nature is miserable. Purpose of the
state = punish violent aggressors, and so make peace
possible by making mutual trust possible.
John Lockes state of nature is nicer. Ironically, though,
he gives a similar definition: it is a state in w
Ask: Why have any authority at all? Why not
One popular answer = imagine the complete absence of
any political authority; if this leads to great misery, then
that is one reason for having at least some authority.
This was the answer of T
Criticisms of the Free Market
1) It leads to trade cycle of boom and bust.
Many people play no productive role under
Question for 1 and 2: What system performs better?
It leads to alienated labor.
Question: Is this just a consequence of
Negative freedom = the absence of external constraints
imposed by humans (Isaiah Berlin).
So long as there is no law against X or no thug to stop you
from X-ing, you are (negatively) free to X.
Positive freedom = being one's own master; being the
The Principle of Fairness
Basic idea = whether or not you consent, isn't it unfair
of you to enjoy the benefits of life under a state without
shouldering the burdens of maintaining the state?
Non-political examples: buying drinks in a round, car
John Stuart Mill on Liberty (Part Two)
Objection: There are very few self-regarding actions.
So Mills harm principle protects very few actions.
Mills reply: we should distinguish between interests
per se and rights-based interests.
The idea seems to be: I
The Obligation to Obey
Lesson of State of Nature stories = it is a good thing
some sort of law-making political authority exists.
Q: Does this mean we have a moral obligation to obey
the law simply because its the law?
Compare: It would be a good thing fo
If some sort of state is justified, what sort? Usual
answer = democracy. Isnt that obvious?
But wait. How should we understand democracy?
Debates within the theory of democracy:
1. B/w the idea of democracy as majority rule, and the
idea of demo
Is Our Economic Prosperity Being Shared?
CEO Compensation: Business Week annual executive pay surveys. S&P 500 Index: Standard and Poors Corporation.
Corporate Profits: Bureau of Economic Analysis, National Income and Disposition of Personal Income Data.
What is The State?
An influential definition by Max Weber (1864-1920),
according to which we define the state (the government)
by its characteristic means, not its ends (i.e. goals):
a state is a human community that
(successfully) claims the monopoly of
Schweickart on Market Socialism
Defining institutions of capitalism:
private ownership of the means of production
Market socialism eliminates or greatly restricts private
ownership of the means of production. Instead: some for
Rousseau on Democracy
Key concept = the general will.
Basically, general will = actions/policies that are equally
in everyones interests (the public interest).
Contrast with "the will of all" = the sum of each
individual's "particular will."
Rousseaus State of Nature
Rousseau & Locke: the state of nature a state of war.
But they give different answers as to why.
Locke: b/c people are moved to a significant extent by
an innate knowledge of right and wrong.
Rousseau: (1) b/c savages are solitar
11/16/38 - 1/23/02
like Rawls, spent most of his academic career as a professor at Harvard
Robert Nozick's Anarchy, State and Utopia (1974), his best known book, was the first fulllength challenge to John Rawls' A Theory o
Rawlss Theory of Justice
Rawlss basic ideas:
Society = a fair system of cooperation for mutual gain.
Principles of justice = those principles that free, equal,
and rational beings would choose, under fair
bargaining conditions, to govern the basic structu
A Utilitarian Defense of Property Rights
Key idea = allowing people to acquire and trade
property encourages them to make productive use of
resources, and thus contributes to human happiness.
Utilitarianism = a forward-looking moral theory. Thus
it is les
EQUALITY OF OPPORTUNITY
A. Formal Equality of Opportunity: careers open to
talents, i.e. employment on basis of qualifications.
Involves limits on the prerogatives of private
ownership (factory owners cant hire only friends,
fellow religionists, etc.)
Agency, Dignity, Value
Observing a strong
impairing a person's capacity
for responsible agency
= observing a strong presumption
against diminishing that person's
= showing due
a. What are his criticisms of capitalism based on?: system based on inequality and
privilege; various aspects of life are exploited, not just economically but even familial
relations as well among other aspects; based on the labor theory of valu
Why can force never equal justice or right?:
Rousseau maintains that force can never equal justice or right because might does not
equal right; unless an authority is legitimate and the people feel obliged to obey rather
than forced to obey, the people wi
a. State of Nature (SON): peaceful except when laws are broken; state of equality
where all are free to do as they please
b. Criticism of Hobbes SON: men are inherently good as opposed to evil
c. State of War (SOW): similar to Hobbes state of n
a. State of Nature (SON) vs. Civil or Political Society:
Rousseaus SON is one of pure simplicity: man does not desire more than he needs
and lives only to fulfill these needs; VERY PRIMITIVE; the SON is one of purity and
separates tribes and is a regionalist movement; upholds old systems and creates an elite
b. Hegels Master/Slave Dialectic as applied to Colonialism:
idea that the slave tends to the masters needs and knows everything about the
Criticism of Hobbes/Lockes respective understanding of the SON:
Rousseau implies that unlike Hobbes understanding of humans that they are
inherently evil, it is actually impossible to find man at a less gentle state than that of
the SON because man has no
What is the relationship of labor to being human?:
work substantiates our place as a human; without work, we are nothing;
humans are producers and we create our world through putting labor into our
surroundings; humans are historical producers through lab
Matthew Torino Jonathan McFall Section H1 Government and Human Nature Dating back to pre-humans and Neanderthals, humans have always had a tendency towards violence. It was always the easiest way to solve a problem. Nobody else had to intervene. Two