In fact, it requires two major social institutions--morality and government--working in a coordinated fashion to do so. This is one of the main themes of Hobbes's philosophy that will be developed in this book.
Why do we need government? A common view is that government is necessary to constrain people's conduct toward one another, because people are not sufficiently virtuous to exercise the requisite degree of control on their own. This view was expressed perspicuously, and artfully, by liberal thinker James Madison, in The Federalist, number 51, where he wrote: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” Madison's idea is shared by writers ranging across the political spectrum. It finds clear expression in (...) the Marxist view that the state will gradually wither away after a communist revolution, as unalienated “communist man” emerges. And it is implied by the libertarian view that government's only legitimate function is to control the unfortunate and immoral tendency of some individuals to violate the moral rights of others. (shrink)
It is commonplace to suppose that the theory of individual rational choice is considerably less problematic than the theory of collective rational choice. In particular, it is often assumed by philosophers, economists, and other social scientists that an individual's choices among outcomes accurately reflect that individual's underlying preferences or values. Further, it is now well known that if an individual's choices among outcomes satisfy certain plausible axioms of rationality or consistency, that individual's choice-behavior can be interpreted as maximizing expected utility (...) on a utility scale that is unique up to a linear transformation. Hence, there is, in principle, an empirically respectable method of measuring individuals' values and a single unified schema for explaining their actions as value maximizing. (shrink)
Sometimes two wrongs do make a right. That is, others' violations of moral rules may make it permissible for one to also violate these rules, to avoid being unfairly disadvantaged. This claim, originally advanced by Hobbes, is applied to three cases in business. It is suggested that the claim is one source of scepticism concerning business ethics. I argue, however, that the conditions under which business competitors' violations of moral rules would render one's own violations permissible are quite restricted. Hence, (...) the observation that two wrongs may make a right does not give people a broad warrant for ignoring moral standards in their business activities. (shrink)
For centuries, moral philosophers have attempted to clarify the relationship between morality and rational self-interest. They have been especially interested in the possibility that there are situations in which it is perceptibly against one’s interests to act morally, e.g., situations in which it clearly pays to lie, cheat, or steal. Hobbes, who held an egoistic view of human nature, was especially troubled by this possibility. For if psychological egoism is true and this possibility is a real one, there may be (...) situations in which people must act in a way that is either immoral or irrational. To avoid this unpalatable conclusion, Hobbes seeks to show that the aforementioned possibility is illusory, that no real conflict between morality and rational prudence can occur. (shrink)
It is, perhaps, a propitious time to discuss the economic rights of disabled persons. In recent years, the media in the United States have re-ported on such notable events as: students at the nation's only college for the deaf stage a successful protest campaign to have a deaf individual ap-pointed president of their institution; a book by a disabled British physicist on the origins of the universe becomes a best seller; a pitcher with only one arm has a successful rookie (...) season in major league baseball; a motion-picture actor wins an Oscar for his portrayal of a wheelchair-bound person, beating out another nominee playing another wheelchair-bound person; a cancer patient wins an Olympic gold medal in wrestling; a paralyzed mother trains her children to accept discipline by inserting their hands in her mouth to be gently bitten when punishment is due; and a paraplegic rock climber scales the sheer four-thousand-foot wall of Yosemite Valley's El Capitan. Most significantly, in 1990, the United States Congress passed an important bill – the Americans with Disabili-ties Act – extending to disabled people employment and access-related protections afforded to members of other disadvantaged groups by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. (shrink)
In the early months of 1991, the United States—in alliance with a number of other nations—fought a large scale air and ground war to evict Iraq's occupying army from the emirate of Kuwait. In this paper, I will consider the question of whether this U.S. military campaign was a just war according to the criteria of traditional just war theory—the only developed moral theory of warfare that we have. My aim, however, is not so much to reach a verdict about (...) the morality of the Gulf War, as it is to identify relevant moral issues, and to reveal certain serious problems of application that are inherent in just war theory itself. Just war theory divides into two parts concerning, respectively, the question of whether or not to fight a particular war , and the question of how the war is conducted . I begin by considering whether it was just, according to the justice of war criteria, for the U.S. to fight the Gulf War at all. I then turn to the question of whether the way the war was conducted satisfied the criteria of justice in war. (shrink)
The classic argument against anarchy, and in favor of government, is presented by Thomas Hobbes in his Leviathan, published in 1651. Hobbes contends that a sovereign with sufficient power to make and enforce laws is necessary if individuals are to be both secure from one another’s potential aggressions and prosperous as a result of beneficial cooperation with others. Recently, a number of writers have suggested that, in a nuclearly armed world, an international analogue of Hobbes’s argument demonstrates the necessity of (...) establishing a world government. For convenience, I shall henceforth refer to the general argument underlying this claim as the Nuclear World Government Argument. (shrink)
This volume examines the complex and vitally important ethical questions connected with the deployment of nuclear weapons and their use as a deterrent. A number of the essays contained here have already established themselves as penetrating and significant contributions to the debate on nuclear ethics. They have been revised to bring out their unity and coherence, and are integrated with new essays. The books exceptional rigor and clarity make it valuable whether the reader's concern with nuclear ethics is professional or (...) personal. Part I explores the morality of nuclear deterrrence from each of the two dominant traditions in moral philosophy, deontology and consequentialism, and points out a number of interesting ethical dilemmas. Part II criticizes a variety of alternatives to deterrence - unilateral nuclear disarmament, world government, strategic defense against ballistic missiles, and nuclear coercion - and argues for mutual nuclear disarmament as a realistic and desirable long-run alternative. (shrink)
In a well-known article, 1 John Hick argues that the proposition ‘God exists' is, in principle, verifiable but is not falsifiable. Essentially, his argument is that while no experience in this life could conclusively disprove the existence of the Christian God, certain experiences one might have in the after-life would conclusively verify the existence of the Christian God. In particular, he argues that post mortem experiences of Christ ruling in the Kingdom of God would constitute a verification of the existence (...) of the Christian God. In this paper, I shall argue that on Hick's own assumptions, the existence of the Christian God turns out to be falsifiable, in principle, as well as verifiable. (shrink)
This rich collection will introduce students of philosophy and politics to the contemporary critical literature on the classical social contract political thinkers Thomas Hobbes , John Locke , and Jean-Jacques Rousseau . A dozen essays and book excerpts have been selected to guide students through the texts and to introduce them to current scholarly controversies surrounding the contractarian political theories of these three thinkers.