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Why Be
 Plato & hobbes overview
- historical parallels
- addressing the same Q
• Plato’s thought experiment (the ring)
• Hobbes’ thought experiment (S of N)
- nature & reason argument
Historical parallels
 Plato (~428 bc - 348 bc)
 Hobbes (1588 - 1679)
Why be good?
Morality: a Compromise
an arrangement
Ring of Gyges
Hobbes (1588 - 1679)
Two Major Influences
Euclidean Geometry
Single Scientific Method
Physical nature
human society
Matter in motion
Natural bodies (stones, planets, living organisms)
Artificial bodies (societies, political bodies)
Causal laws:
e is determined by c
Every event in the universe is necessarily
determined by one or more previous cause
Scientific explanation of
universe/human bodies
 “For what is the heart, but a spring, and the nerves,
but so many strings, and the joints, but so many
wheels, giving a motion to the whole body…”
Euclidean geometry
 Axioms --> theorems
 Basic truths of human nature -->
deduce morality/leviathan
G + EG + CW =>
human reason
human nature
State of nature
State of Nature
“Nature hath made men so equal…”
Right to anything necessary for survival
State of nature
 Bodies in motion
 Driven by desire to survive
State of Nature
State of Nature
 Limited Resources --> enmity
State of Nature
State of War
Limited Resources --> enmity --> war
“In such condition, there is no place for
Industry…and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty,
brutish and short.”
What does Reason then
tell us?
1. We do anything necessary to
preserve life
This Hobbes calls “Right of Nature”
natural right
What does Reason then
tell us?
2. Pursue Peace
This Hobbes calls “Law of Nature”
How to achieve Peace…?
The Social Contract
“covenants, without the sword, are
but words, and of no strength to
secure a man at all”
I give up my right to do anything (so long as
you do as well) and give that right over to
one authority
The authority must reside in one
person and be total and supreme.