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Copy of Philosophical Principles
Transcript of Copy of Philosophical Principles
State of Nature
Role of the State
Balance of Harms
Lottery of Birth
Veil of ignorance
Without a state people would be
"in continual fear, and danger of violent
death; and the life of man, solitary, poor,
nasty, brutish and short."
Locke (2nd Treatise of Civil Government)
Without a government people are in a perfect state of freedom and equality. It does not have to be a State of War.
Anarchism is a
We enter into a 'Social Contract' with our
sovereign. This is where you accept to forgo some of your freedoms to that authority, in exchange for them protecting your rights which you will no longer protect through violence.
The social contract can be consented to:
- Hypothetically (agree you would have signed the SC if you had the opportunity to actually consent)
- Tacitly (you show your consent to the state through your actions of obedience)
- Explicitly (taking an oath of allegiance to the state or by paying taxes, receiving benefits, NHS, etc.)
E.g: You forgo your right to protect
yourself and your property, in return for
the states protection.
is a legitimate means
of achieving justice
in areas with high
levels of crime.
The state/sovereign is only justified in having authority over naturally free and autonomous people; if those people consent to give parts of their autonomy to the sovereigns authority.
The states role is to maximise happiness for the greatest number in society. State is justified on a utilitarian basis, and consent is irrelevant as long as happiness is maximised.
THBT the duties
of states to their citizens should be limited to protection from aggression, theft, breach of contract and fraud.
Maximisation of happiness,
pleasure or preferences.
A morally good action is one which creates the most good for the largest number of people.
J. S. Mill (On Liberty)
"the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others"
You can only restrict a person's speech or actions if:
1) They cause harm to another
2) If a person has not / cannot properly consent to an action or has been coerced
3) If they incite violence
Soft paternalism is where the state
restricts your autonomy not because of the 'Harm Principle', but because they have more information and resources to research.
If they find that something is harmful to an ignorant individual or a vulnerable person (eg: Children or the mentally handicapped) they can choose in the interest of those people to restrict autonomy.
The right to 'Self-Legislate'.
To have the freedom to choose how one wants to live and the decisions they wish to make without restrictions.
You do not choose where you are born, nor the circumstances you are born into, it is a complete lottery.
A such, you have no more of an obligation to your family, friends, members of your country, etc; than you do to any other person in the world.
Philosophically and morally you have an equal duty to all people and all people should be regarded as equal.
THBT in times
of state breakdown
abroad, the UK
prioritise the rescue of UK citizens over other
replace income tax with
a tax on
Rawls (A Theory of Justice)
In the 'original position' or under the 'veil of ignorance' you do not know who you are or anything about yourself (I.e.: you don't know your gender, class, sexual orientation, race, religion, level of intelligence, amount of wealth, etc.)
From this position of complete ignorance, you must choose how rights, positions and resources are distributed in society.
This thought experiment suggests that if you do not know where in society you will fall, you would not bias against any group, because one may be in that group once the veil is lifted.
Sometimes in certain debates there
will be no ideal solution to the problem, but the solutions may come down to a balance of harms.
This is a point that can be used to show that even though your solution has some harms, they are less than other solutions / the status quo.
an equal quota
for women on the
boards of large
The majority of times Mill and the
harm principle are used is in debates about
making choices on personal harm.
However, Mill's writings on the freedom of
speech, thought and expression are important in
debates about censorship.
Mill was opposed massively to censorship on the grounds that even if offensive, true or false; there should always be a protected right to free and open discussion; because society cannot progress by refusing a voice to people. In doing so we would loose the ability to challenge, reconsider and reaffirm true views.
There are debates where you will
have to justify the Role that the State has
to play for its citizens; but there will also
be debates where you will have to justify
why citizens of a state should obey the laws
of a state.
The Utilitarian justification is:
1. The Morally best society is one which maximises
2. The state promotes happiness better than the state of nature.
3. The state of nature is the only alternative to the state.
4. Therefore, we have a moral duty to bring about and support the state.
Another point which comes from
the role of the state is 'Collective Action Problems'.
CAP's are things such as street lamps and road maintenance.
The argument goes that without a state, people would not be inclined to group together and contribute to things which only benefit some people. Therefore a benefit of having a state is that they will deal with the collective action problems which individuals would not.