THE IDEA OF A SOCIAL CONTRACT

Hobbes's Argument

Background

Hobbes

Discussion : too broad even on improved formulation: includes

The Prisoner's Dillema

Scenario

Problem

Solution: you should confess -- no matter what Smith does

The Catch

  • if  you both confess you will get 5 yrs
  • but if you both hadn't confessed you'd have only gotten 2yrs
  • each persuing rationally persuing their own best interests in isolation
  • prevented both from achieving a better outcome than they might
  • due to their inability to cooperate
  • Morality as a Solution to a Prisoner's-Dilemma-Type Problem

    Some Advantages of the Social Contract Theory of Morals

    Simple and plausible answers to some difficult questions about morality

    FAQ

    The Problem of Civil Disobedience

    Under the SCT we have a moral obligation to obey the law

    Question: can SCT ever recognize a contrary duty of Civil Disobedience?

    The Difficulties for the Theory

    Most Common Objection: Based on a Historical Fiction

    Chief Objection:  Denies moral standing to some who (we think) deserve moral consideration: whoever can't reciprocate