13: Why We Don’t Need a King



Key Terms

State of Nature
Social Contract

  • Read and analyze descriptions of philosophical thought
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the pursuit of a just society
  • Demonstrate an ability to discuss and reflect upon the application of the course material to various aspects of life.
  • Evaluate the personal and social responsibilities of living in a diverse world.

I. Political Theories

  • Two main forms of government
    • Monarchy
    • Democracy
  • How do we justify the statement, We don’t need a king?

II. Plato

  • A. Contextualizing Plato's Republic
    • Written in 300s BCE
    • Wrote near the end of Classical Greece
    • Peloponnesian War (431-404 BCE)
    • The Thirty Tyrants installed after the war tried to recruit Plato but he declined
  • B. The Republic
    • Goals
      • Establish a state that would bring about eudaemonia
      • Recreate the World of Forms
      • 3 categories of people: workers, guardians, philosopher–kings
      • Leaders are wise philosopher–kings, 50+ yrs old, with a secure understanding of the forms and the good
    • Flaws
      • High expectations of citizens, intellectual devotion and self–scrutiny
      • Higher expectations of leaders
      • Based in an ideal world we cannot perceive

III. Augustine

Saint Augustine

  • A. Contextualizing Augustine’s City of God
    • Augustine wrote in the fourth century, the end of the ancient era
    • Transition from first century Christians preoccupied with the end of time to coexisting
    • Augustine sees Rome as a force for good in the world
  • B. Reconciling God and the Government
    • Goal of City of God
      • Reconciles the Kingdom of God with the Roman Empire
      • Focus on the individual’s pursuit of a relationship with God
      • Through personal devotion and love, the kingdom of God would be actualized on earth
    • Flaws
      • Christian–only narrative (c.f. Divine Command Theory)
      • Diversity of Christian interpretations of devotion (“Who are Christians?”)

IV. Hobbes and the Social Contract


Hobbes on the State of Nature

...which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death: and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short

Locke on the Social Contract

The social contract should protect life, liberty, health, and property.

  • A. Contextualizing Hobbes’ Social Contract
    • Eliminate all assumptions about morality
    • No God to give commands
    • No natural purpose or law
    • Psychological egoism is true
    • We pity people because we fear the same could happen to us
    • What then is the basis of our morality?
  • B. The Basis of Morality
    • Practical need
    • Morality depends on practical solutions to problems
    • We need a peaceful cooperative society
    • Rules that come from need are our morals
  • C. The State of Nature
    • Suppose there were no authority or government institutions
    • Bleak picture of the world
    • Constant fear and danger
    • Self-interested individuals, when given no security, seek their own security first
    • Basic Facts of Human Life derived from the state of nature hypothetical
      • Humans have equality of need
      • There is scarcity of resource
      • Humans have a basic equality of power
      • Humans are basically selfish
    • State of nature is not a hypothetical conclusion
    • When governments fall or international crises occur, this is the result
  • D. The Social Contract
    • We collectively agree to follow rules that benefit society
    • We collectively agree to enforce those rules
    • We collectively agree to accept punishment for breaking rules
    • Enforcing the Rules
      • The law
      • The court of public opinion
  • E. Advantages of the Social Contract
    • Provides security
    • Permits altruism
    • Allows us to become a different kind of person
    • Explains purpose of morality and government

V. Locke


  • A. Contextualizing Locke
    • Agreed social contract is the best way to explain the state and justify its authority
    • Authority comes from consent of the governed
  • B. Locke’s Response to Hobbes
    • The state of nature is not all bad
    • People are governed by natural laws ordained by God
    • These laws make them free, rational, and social
    • Entitled to life, liberty, health, property
    • Freedom from Bad Government
      • Society requires authority
      • But the state is a servant of the people
      • We require freedom from interference from bad government that might limit our life, liberty, health, or property

Logic Week 13: Appeals to Emotion