Is morality rational? In this book Gauthier argues that moral principles are principles of rational choice. He proposes a principle whereby choice is made on an agreed basis of cooperation, rather than according to what would give an individual the greatest expectation of value. He shows that such a principle not only ensures mutual benefit and fairness, thus satisfying the standards of morality, but also that each person may actually expect greater utility by adhering to morality, even though the choice (...) did not have that end primarily in view. In resolving what may appear to be a paradox, the author establishes morals on the firm foundation of reason. Gauthier's argument includes an account of value, linking it to preference and utility; a discussion of the curcumstances in which morality is unnecessary; and an application of morals by agreement to relations between peoples at different levels of development and different generations. Finally, he reflects on the assumptions about individuality and community made by his account of rationality and morality. (shrink)
The conception of social relationships as contractual lies at the core of our ideology. Indeed, that core is constituted by the intersection of this conception with the correlative conceptions of human activity as appropriate and of rationality as utility-maximizing. My concern is to clarify this thesis and to enhance its descriptive plausibility as a characterization of our ideology, but to undermine its normative plausibility as ideologically effective.
Law is the expression of public reason. I want to explicate and justify this assertion, which lies at the core of a normative theory of law. Primarily, I want to focus on the concept of public reason, showing what it is, relating it to private or individual reason, and finding its rationale in that relation. I shall then argue that public reason exhausts the normative space where law may be found. Appealing to public reason, I shall show that the authority (...) that law claims over the judgments and actions of citizens must ultimately be grounded in their own rationality. (shrink)
Are Hobbes's laws of nature to be understood primarily as theorems of reason, or as commands of God, or as commands of the civil sovereign? Each of these accounts can be given textual support; each identifies a role that the laws may be thought to play. Examining the full range of textual references, discussing the place of the laws of nature in Hobbes's argument, and considering how the laws may be known, give strongest support to the first of the three (...) accounts, that the laws are primarily rational precepts and only secondarily civil and divine commands. (shrink)
In this article, the authors examine the Heidegger-Levinas debate on dwelling and hospitality and assess its larger philosophical and political implications. Although Heidegger and Levinas are both critical of the subjectivist stance that engenders the rise of the homeless spirit, they posit different solutions to the Hegelian problematic, with Heidegger advocating an ontology of dwelling and Levinas propounding an ethic of hospitality (hospitalite). After a discussion of the larger political ramifications of their respective projects, we conclude with a critical assessment (...) of Heideggerian homecoming and Levinasian hospitality. More specifically, we attempt to identify the essential elements of a politics of place that is appreciative of the tension that exists between home and homelessness, between Ulysses and Abraham. (shrink)
This book explores the ethical and political implications of the debate between Martin Heidegger and Emmanuel Levinas on the question of Place. It relates their debate to larger disagreements concerning ontology and ethics, the status of humanism, and the relationship between worldliness and transcendence. Ultimately, in an epoch characterized by tribalism and globalization, the Heidegger-Levinas debate illuminates the need for a contemporary politics of place that enables human beings to dwell and practice hospitality.
In his recent paper, “Justice as Fairness: Political not Metaphysical,” John Rawls makes use of a footnote to disown what to many readers must have seemed one of the most striking and original underlying ideas of his theory of justice, that it “is a part, perhaps the most significant part, of the theory of rational choice.” That Rawls should issue this disclaimer indicates, at least in my view, that he has a much clearer understanding of his theory, and its relationship (...) to rational choice than he did at the time that he wrote A Theory of Justice. As I note in Morals by Agreement, Rawls does not show that principles of justice are principles of rational choice. Hence, in appropriating the idea, I can claim diat I am undertaking a pioneering enterprise. No doubt Thomas Hobbes would have undertaken it had the resources of the theory of rational choice been at his disposal, but I do not intend to pursue counterfactuals in a search for historical antecedents. Moral theory as rational choice theory is, I claim, a new venture. (shrink)
This article presents an examination of the political implications of Levinas' concept of hospitality (hospitalité). As described by Levinas, hospitality operates in two distinct realms, the ethical and the political. In the ethical realm, the self is morally compelled to welcome the individual stranger into the private space of the home. In the public realm, the self is politically obligated to welcome the whole of humanity into the public space of the homeland. However, since politics is violent and totalizing, the (...) practice of political hospitality requires an ethical transformation of the public realm. For Levinas, such a transformation entails the creation of political and juridical institutions that are fraternalistic, monotheistic and messianic in nature. It is found that Levinas's hospitality ethic is compromised by the fraternalistic, monotheistic and messianic aspects of his political vision. (shrink)
Hobbes on Demonstration and Construction DAVID GAUTHIER 1~ IN 1656 Hobbes published Six Lessons to the Professors of Mathematics, with an Epistle Dedicatory to the Marquis of Dorchester, Lord Pierrepont. In this Epistle, Hobbes distinguishes the demonstrable from the indemonstrable arts: "demonstrable are those the construction of the subject whereof is in the power of the artist himself, who, in his demonstration, does no more but deduce the consequences of his own operation" . Although this passage, with the explication Hobbes (...) offers for it and the consequences he draws from it, and a similar discussion in De homine, published two years later, have not been unnoticed, their significance for Hobbes's account of science in general, and civil philosophy or politics in particular, has not, I think, been I am grateful to the University of East Anglia for appointing me a Visiting Research Fellow during the period in which the first draft of this paper was written. A second draft was presented at the Third Quadrennial International Fellows Conference of the Center for Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh, sponsored by the Florence Center for the History and Philosophy of Science. I am grateful for the remarks of my commentator, J. E. McGuire, and for the discussion. I am also grateful for the comments of the two referees who read this paper for the Journal of the History of Philosophy. References to Hobbes's works appear as.. (shrink)
'There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.'l But if things considered in themselves are neither good nor bad, if there is no realm of value existing independently of animate beings and their activities, then thought is not the activity that summons value into being. Hume reminds us, 'Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions', and while Hume's dictum has been widely disputed, we shall defend it.2 Desire, not thought, and volition, (...) not 'cognition, are the springs of good and evil. (shrink)
My concern in this paper is with the illumination that the theory of rational bargaining sheds on the formulation of principles of justice. I shall first set out the bargaining problem, as treated in the theory of games, and the Nash solution, or solution F. I shall then argue against the axiom, labeled “independence of irrelevant alternatives,” which distinguished solution F, and also against the Zeuthen model of the bargaining process which F formalizes.