The theme of the first part of this course is one of individual rights versus public order. The personal freedoms guaranteed to law-abiding citizens as well as to criminal suspects by the Constitution must be closely guarded.
In order to avoid this fate, 1 there must be guarantees that people will not harm one another, and 2 people must be able to rely on one another to keep their agreements. Only a government can provide for 1 and 2.
Therefore, we need a government. In establishing a government, people give up some of their personal freedom the freedom of anarchy, such as it is and give the government the authority to enforce laws and agreements. Those living under a government are parties to a social contract.
Each person agrees to follow the laws of the state on the condition that everyone else does the same. That way, we are all relatively safe from each other and we all benefit from the other social goods that will result. You and Smith would do much better one year in jail if you each do what is not in your own self-interest.
Notice that if you could make an agreement with Smith and knew that it would be enforced, then it would be rational not to confess, and you will both be better off.
Essentially, this is what the enforcement of a moral code makes possible. It makes cooperative behavior rational.
The conditions under which Prisoner-Dilemma type situations arise: It must be a situation in which, paradoxically, everyone will end up worse off if they individually pursue their own interests than if they simultaneously do what is not in their own individual interests. Suppose you live in a society that has highly polluting cars.
You can install a device that will stop the pollution from your car, but it will cost some money. Therefore, if others use the device, then it is in your interests not to, in order to save money.
Therefore, you had might as well not use it, since you only put yourself at a disadvantage if you do. Since everyone can follow the same reasoning, no one will use the device and everyone will be worse off due to pollution. Unless, of course, we are all parties to a binding contract which requires us to use the device so that we all benefit.
According to SCT, morality is just such a contract. Everyone has an interest in getting out of this state, for the reasons discussed earlier. Now, suppose that everyone could sign a contract with each other governing how people are to treat each other.
The aim of the contract is to create social order, ending the state of nature and making it possible for people to cooperate and produce social goods.
In order for the contract to best achieve its aims, it is important that everyone, or nearly everyone, to be party to the contract otherwise we have anarchy or civil war. So, what things should everyone or just about everyone agree to as part of the contract?
This means there will be prohibitions against murder, assault, theft and vandalism. A police force will be needed. This means there will be prohibitions on breaking contracts e.
An army might be needed. Other important stuff — These are things that, arguably, should be part of the social contract i. However, a society might be able to survive if not thrive without them. This means that they must follow rules that protect us. Prohibitions against damaging the environment or claiming it as private property seem to be in order.
How extensive this is, though, is unclear. Also, the self-interested justification for environmentalism does necessarily cover protecting endangered species or anything that is only of interest to some people.
Those who are well off have no need of welfare, public education, and government assistance in general. So, on the face of it, it is not in the interests of these people to pay taxes in order to support government assistance.
For this reason, conservative social contract theorists sometimes argue that a social safety is not part of the contract. There are two kinds of replies to this argument. Even the wealthy are advantaged by the existence of public education; they may not go to public schools, but they benefit from living in a society with a high level of education.Individuals may be members of two or more communities; for example, one of geographic residence and another of employment.
Community responsibilities are an individual's duties or obligations to the community and include cooperation, respect and participation. The concept goes beyond thinking and acting as individuals to common beliefs about shared interests and life.
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