Ethics - Social Contract Theory

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  1. How is morality to be understood from Hobbes's perspective?
    • Should be understood as the solution to a practical problem for self-interested human beings.
    • In order to flourish, we need cooperation.
    • The rules of social life.
  2. What is the "state of nature"?
    Hobbes' view of what it would be like if there were no way to enforce social rules. No government institutions - no laws, no police, and no courts.
  3. What are the four facts of life or features of human condition?
    • There is equality of need.
    • There is scarcity.
    • There is the essential equality of human power. There is limited altruism.
  4. What is "equality of need"?
    Each of us needs the same basic things to survive.
  5. What is "scarcity"?
    We have to work hard in order to provide the necessities of life.
  6. What is the "essential equality of human power"?
    Who will get the scarce goods? Even the strongest and smartest can be brought down when those who are less strong act together.
  7. What is "limited altruism"?
    We cannot rely on the goodwill of others. We cannot assume that they will step aside when their interests conflict with ours.
  8. What is the solution to the prisoner's dilemma type situation?
    An enforceable agreement.
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Ethics - Social Contract Theory
Ethics - Social Contract Theory study guide
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