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Stephen_Hawkins
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5/14/2014 3:03:24 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
http://www.debate.org...

I'd like some feedback on this debate. I am planning on writing an essay and submitting it to a few undergrad journals, but I am looking for feedback on the merit of the case. It would be on Filmer's political philosophy, and his strength as a response to the political arguments of his time (especially as a response to Locke, but perhaps also to Bodin, Rousseau, or some thinkers like Mornay and vindiciae contra tyrannos - I am still tossing up ideas).

One of his key arguments is against social contract theory, and is usually compared to Hume. As such, I used both in a debate I linked above. If anyone can give feedback to their arguments, it would be great. To be clear, I'm not looking for votes, I am looking for feedback on the strength of lack of in their arguments against social contract theory.
Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach him how to be Gay, he'll positively influence the GDP.

Social Contract Theory debate: http://www.debate.org...
bladerunner060
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5/14/2014 3:34:56 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/14/2014 3:03:24 PM, Stephen_Hawkins wrote:
http://www.debate.org...

I'd like some feedback on this debate. I am planning on writing an essay and submitting it to a few undergrad journals, but I am looking for feedback on the merit of the case. It would be on Filmer's political philosophy, and his strength as a response to the political arguments of his time (especially as a response to Locke, but perhaps also to Bodin, Rousseau, or some thinkers like Mornay and vindiciae contra tyrannos - I am still tossing up ideas).

One of his key arguments is against social contract theory, and is usually compared to Hume. As such, I used both in a debate I linked above. If anyone can give feedback to their arguments, it would be great. To be clear, I'm not looking for votes, I am looking for feedback on the strength of lack of in their arguments against social contract theory.

Will you be presenting arguments against the historicity of SCT as a true explanation of the origin of the social construct, or will you be attacking it on normative grounds?
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Stephen_Hawkins
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5/14/2014 3:50:12 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/14/2014 3:34:56 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 5/14/2014 3:03:24 PM, Stephen_Hawkins wrote:
http://www.debate.org...

I'd like some feedback on this debate. I am planning on writing an essay and submitting it to a few undergrad journals, but I am looking for feedback on the merit of the case. It would be on Filmer's political philosophy, and his strength as a response to the political arguments of his time (especially as a response to Locke, but perhaps also to Bodin, Rousseau, or some thinkers like Mornay and vindiciae contra tyrannos - I am still tossing up ideas).

One of his key arguments is against social contract theory, and is usually compared to Hume. As such, I used both in a debate I linked above. If anyone can give feedback to their arguments, it would be great. To be clear, I'm not looking for votes, I am looking for feedback on the strength of lack of in their arguments against social contract theory.

Will you be presenting arguments against the historicity of SCT as a true explanation of the origin of the social construct, or will you be attacking it on normative grounds?

Thank you for your response.

Firstly, it is an exposition of Filmer's political ideas. I am not arguing in the essay that Filmer was right - he was wrong on a lot of things, especially his comical exposition on 72 kings of the world - but that his counters to prevailing theories were spectacular enough to predate Hume's burial of the social contract.

Secondly, I will argue that such a demarcation is unjustified, as clearly SCT authors at the time meant it as historical first, and normative second - though both at the same time. Though any such division, according to Filmer (and myself) is irrelevant, because if it is false on historic grounds, while the idea may be nice - just as the notion that all forms of imperialism is unjust because they lead to the invading nations being poor [cite Machiavelli in footnotes] - just because it is nice, does not make it true.

And this is a partial response to your point on my debate, as well as what I'd argue as Filmer. Ultimately, I do not see - nor, as far as I can tell, any political philosopher - a distinction between normative and positive in this social contract theory, because such a distinction is ahistorical and defeats the purpose of the social contract.

I say this assuming by "social construct" you mean "society". If you mean something else, I am not sure what you're getting at.

Thank you for your reply - I will try and respond to everything on this thread by the way, as long as they aren't excessively long.
Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach him how to be Gay, he'll positively influence the GDP.

Social Contract Theory debate: http://www.debate.org...
bladerunner060
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5/14/2014 4:03:03 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/14/2014 3:50:12 PM, Stephen_Hawkins wrote:
At 5/14/2014 3:34:56 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 5/14/2014 3:03:24 PM, Stephen_Hawkins wrote:
http://www.debate.org...

I'd like some feedback on this debate. I am planning on writing an essay and submitting it to a few undergrad journals, but I am looking for feedback on the merit of the case. It would be on Filmer's political philosophy, and his strength as a response to the political arguments of his time (especially as a response to Locke, but perhaps also to Bodin, Rousseau, or some thinkers like Mornay and vindiciae contra tyrannos - I am still tossing up ideas).

One of his key arguments is against social contract theory, and is usually compared to Hume. As such, I used both in a debate I linked above. If anyone can give feedback to their arguments, it would be great. To be clear, I'm not looking for votes, I am looking for feedback on the strength of lack of in their arguments against social contract theory.

Will you be presenting arguments against the historicity of SCT as a true explanation of the origin of the social construct, or will you be attacking it on normative grounds?

Thank you for your response.

Firstly, it is an exposition of Filmer's political ideas. I am not arguing in the essay that Filmer was right ...

Secondly, I will argue that such a demarcation is unjustified, as clearly SCT authors at the time meant it as historical first, and normative second - though both at the same time. Though any such division, according to Filmer (and myself) is irrelevant, because if it is false on historic grounds, while the idea may be nice - just as the notion that all forms of imperialism is unjust because they lead to the invading nations being poor [cite Machiavelli in footnotes] - just because it is nice, does not make it true.

And this is a partial response to your point on my debate, as well as what I'd argue as Filmer. Ultimately, I do not see - nor, as far as I can tell, any political philosopher - a distinction between normative and positive in this social contract theory, because such a distinction is ahistorical and defeats the purpose of the social contract.

Well, I would disagree slightly (hopefully without going down too far of a rabbit-hole). In the absence of finding out for a fact how society formed, figuring out how it should run seems important. Further, even if we discovered that society formed because of some other thing...because aliens came down and said "You guys should listen to Caveman Trogg", there should still be justification for its continued existence--initial conditions do not necessarily hold forever. Coming up with a coherent, normative theory for why society should exist NOW seems just as important as figuring out its origins. Without going into any detail whatsoever as it would DEFINITELY risk derailing your thread completely and I don't want to do that, I see a similarity in the debate regarding marriage.

And at the risk of expanding on my RFD, I think the "validity" question was the crux of why I voted as I did. If you had said that, as a condition of this debate, a valid theory must explain, factually, WHY things formed the way they did as much as make normative claims about the way things should be, I think you'd have been on much firmer ground. By not making that an explicit term, you lost ground, at least with me.

I say this assuming by "social construct" you mean "society". If you mean something else, I am not sure what you're getting at.

No, that's what I meant, and how I should have said it.

Thank you for your reply - I will try and respond to everything on this thread by the way, as long as they aren't excessively long.
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Stephen_Hawkins
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5/14/2014 4:17:15 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/14/2014 4:03:03 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
Well, I would disagree slightly (hopefully without going down too far of a rabbit-hole). In the absence of finding out for a fact how society formed, figuring out how it should run seems important.

Okay, to take this one at a time, I'll split these points up a little. The issue with this can be drawn out with the following example. Assume that James argued that he has the same right to distribute the chores in his house as his parents, because he signed a contract with his parent explicitly making this trade-off where they are both legislators of the household. As such, James can tell his dad to clean the garage, and in return his dad can tell him to clean his room. However, as James' dad did not clean the garage, James is not only under no obligation to clean his room, but he is also free to seek another family to join as a result.

While some of this may be true - you may believe that in fact James can leave his father for another family, if he so wishes, for example - the case is clearly unsound. While it may be nice that James and his father has this dual responsibility, it is in no way true. The social contract creates intersubjective moral rights and moral obligations, due to the consent of both parties (ignoring Hobbesian contracts). However, fathers do not 'consent' to their sons, and the son does not consent to the father. Therefore, there is no social contract obligation (though there may be other obligations) that the father or son has to fulfil, nor any rights they gain. In other words, the social contract's moral prescriptions does not apply in this situation, as the social contract does not exist.

Taking it with the social contract and government, now, we can see the problem. The social contract has a hidden premise assuming society was formed by two or more consenting parties - the ruler and the subject. However, if there is no consent by either the ruler or the subject to the social contract, the social contract historically cannot be formed. The entirety of the normative force of the social contract relies on its existence and it being the explanation of society. Therefore, the social contract lacks all normative force in a society which has not been formed via the social contract - which just so happens to be, all (or almost all) societies.

Further, even if we discovered that society formed because of some other thing...because aliens came down and said "You guys should listen to Caveman Trogg", there should still be justification for its continued existence--initial conditions do not necessarily hold forever. Coming up with a coherent, normative theory for why society should exist NOW seems just as important as figuring out its origins. Without going into any detail whatsoever as it would DEFINITELY risk derailing your thread completely and I don't want to do that, I see a similarity in the debate regarding marriage.

Burke (who I side with here) argues for the normative force of prescription. Filmer argues that the patriarchal model, which we all agree grants authority of the father, is applicable to the governmental model where the father (government) rules over its children (the people). These are almost undeniable in their historical validity, unlike the social contract, and doesn't seem to be clearly and indefensibly normatively flawed. That said, even if we had no alternatives to the social contract, we should not appeal to it because "there should be justification for [government's] continued existence" - like many issues, it could be arbitrary, or we could have not discovered the justification of government. If the social contract is definitely historically wrong, though, and if it being historically accurate is necessary for it being normatively accurate, then we must say it is normatively inaccurate.

And at the risk of expanding on my RFD, I think the "validity" question was the crux of why I voted as I did. If you had said that, as a condition of this debate, a valid theory must explain, factually, WHY things formed the way they did as much as make normative claims about the way things should be, I think you'd have been on much firmer ground. By not making that an explicit term, you lost ground, at least with me.

Ultimately, I think this was why I lost the debate. But on this ground, I am not bothered about losing. This is a form thing for how debates work, and I've generally stopped using this style to argue. As such, I am less surprised by losing for this reason, but not too bothered.
Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach him how to be Gay, he'll positively influence the GDP.

Social Contract Theory debate: http://www.debate.org...
bladerunner060
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5/14/2014 4:33:36 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/14/2014 4:17:15 PM, Stephen_Hawkins wrote:
At 5/14/2014 4:03:03 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
Well, I would disagree slightly (hopefully without going down too far of a rabbit-hole). In the absence of finding out for a fact how society formed, figuring out how it should run seems important.

Okay, to take this one at a time, I'll split these points up a little. The issue with this can be drawn out with the following example. Assume that James argued that he has the same right to distribute the chores in his house as his parents, because he signed a contract with his parent explicitly making this trade-off where they are both legislators of the household. As such, James can tell his dad to clean the garage, and in return his dad can tell him to clean his room. However, as James' dad did not clean the garage, James is not only under no obligation to clean his room, but he is also free to seek another family to join as a result.

While some of this may be true - you may believe that in fact James can leave his father for another family, if he so wishes, for example - the case is clearly unsound. While it may be nice that James and his father has this dual responsibility, it is in no way true. The social contract creates intersubjective moral rights and moral obligations, due to the consent of both parties (ignoring Hobbesian contracts). However, fathers do not 'consent' to their sons, and the son does not consent to the father. Therefore, there is no social contract obligation (though there may be other obligations) that the father or son has to fulfil, nor any rights they gain. In other words, the social contract's moral prescriptions does not apply in this situation, as the social contract does not exist.

But A contract between James and his father can be said to exist: the contract of parental responsibility, in which the parent has to take care of the child, and the child is expected to obey the parent. There's no expectation that there should be equality between parent and child in your scenario, and no justification why there SHOULD be such equality. But that the government should look out for the governed seems an integral part of any justification which could possibly be offered for there being a government.

Taking it with the social contract and government, now, we can see the problem. The social contract has a hidden premise assuming society was formed by two or more consenting parties - the ruler and the subject. However, if there is no consent by either the ruler or the subject to the social contract, the social contract historically cannot be formed. The entirety of the normative force of the social contract relies on its existence and it being the explanation of society. Therefore, the social contract lacks all normative force in a society which has not been formed via the social contract - which just so happens to be, all (or almost all) societies.

Its entire normative force rests on the way society "should" work. That, in a society, you give up rights (in some manner) to the society, and in exchange are protected by the society.

It's the answer to the question of the young man who's just come of age: WHY should I follow the law?

Further, even if we discovered that society formed because of some other thing...because aliens came down and said "You guys should listen to Caveman Trogg", there should still be justification for its continued existence--initial conditions do not necessarily hold forever. Coming up with a coherent, normative theory for why society should exist NOW seems just as important as figuring out its origins. Without going into any detail whatsoever as it would DEFINITELY risk derailing your thread completely and I don't want to do that, I see a similarity in the debate regarding marriage.

Burke (who I side with here) argues for the normative force of prescription. Filmer argues that the patriarchal model, which we all agree grants authority of the father, is applicable to the governmental model where the father (government) rules over its children (the people).

But the implication of that is that the father MUST care for his children, and look out for their interest--otherwise he's no real "father" and, indeed--we'd take the children of such a parent upon those grounds.

These are almost undeniable in their historical validity, unlike the social contract, and doesn't seem to be clearly and indefensibly normatively flawed.

I don't see a meaningful difference between the argument as you've presented it here, except inasmuch as we might give more latitude to a "parent" than we do to the government as merely holder of the protective authority. Either way, a patriarch is expected to act for the family, and the family is expected to support the patriarch under that assumption.

That said, even if we had no alternatives to the social contract, we should not appeal to it because "there should be justification for [government's] continued existence" - like many issues, it could be arbitrary, or we could have not discovered the justification of government.

If the social contract is definitely historically wrong, though, and if it being historically accurate is necessary for it being normatively accurate, then we must say it is normatively inaccurate.

I disagree. If we argue that's the only real reason a government SHOULD exist, then how a government CAME into existence doesn't matter unless it conflicts with that.


And at the risk of expanding on my RFD, I think the "validity" question was the crux of why I voted as I did. If you had said that, as a condition of this debate, a valid theory must explain, factually, WHY things formed the way they did as much as make normative claims about the way things should be, I think you'd have been on much firmer ground. By not making that an explicit term, you lost ground, at least with me.

Ultimately, I think this was why I lost the debate. But on this ground, I am not bothered about losing. This is a form thing for how debates work, and I've generally stopped using this style to argue. As such, I am less surprised by losing for this reason, but not too bothered.

Well, while I strive to vote with wha tI believe without reference to whether it will annoy anyone, I'm glad my vote did not annoy you too much!
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dylancatlow
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5/14/2014 4:41:31 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
"Society is formed from families coming together, not individuals. Before the contract, authority still exists within families."

It could be argued that people consign themselves to family for personal benefits. If a family deems that it's best to cooperate with other families, then said cooperation ultimately implicates the individual. It's a stratification, don't you see? People cooperate with other people and the other people cooperate in turn for individual reasons.

"Social contract theorists want to say they are part of the contract, but when they explicitly reject it, how can they be the originator of society? The contract cannot be the origin of society, because many leaders " and subjects " reject the contract."

People do not join a society for corruption. This does not follow.

"Of course, children do not consent " they cannot conceive of the notion. Indeed, most do not understand the social contract theory. So how can they consent to that which they have never encountered nor understood? Yet this is the precise people who are said to consent to the government."

The same could be said of the family situation.
Stephen_Hawkins
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5/14/2014 4:52:17 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/14/2014 4:33:36 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 5/14/2014 4:17:15 PM, Stephen_Hawkins wrote:
At 5/14/2014 4:03:03 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
Well, I would disagree slightly (hopefully without going down too far of a rabbit-hole). In the absence of finding out for a fact how society formed, figuring out how it should run seems important.

Okay, to take this one at a time, I'll split these points up a little. The issue with this can be drawn out with the following example. Assume that James argued that he has the same right to distribute the chores in his house as his parents, because he signed a contract with his parent explicitly making this trade-off where they are both legislators of the household. As such, James can tell his dad to clean the garage, and in return his dad can tell him to clean his room. However, as James' dad did not clean the garage, James is not only under no obligation to clean his room, but he is also free to seek another family to join as a result.

While some of this may be true - you may believe that in fact James can leave his father for another family, if he so wishes, for example - the case is clearly unsound. While it may be nice that James and his father has this dual responsibility, it is in no way true. The social contract creates intersubjective moral rights and moral obligations, due to the consent of both parties (ignoring Hobbesian contracts). However, fathers do not 'consent' to their sons, and the son does not consent to the father. Therefore, there is no social contract obligation (though there may be other obligations) that the father or son has to fulfil, nor any rights they gain. In other words, the social contract's moral prescriptions does not apply in this situation, as the social contract does not exist.

But A contract between James and his father can be said to exist: the contract of parental responsibility, in which the parent has to take care of the child, and the child is expected to obey the parent. There's no expectation that there should be equality between parent and child in your scenario, and no justification why there SHOULD be such equality. But that the government should look out for the governed seems an integral part of any justification which could possibly be offered for there being a government.

What you're doing here is ignoring what a contract is (a voluntary agreement between two people who previously were not bound to one another, and through a process of deliberation come to an explicit agreement on what the rights and obligations of either party are), and then using contract-language to describe the event. To make this explicit:

Suppose James never heard of this notion of 'contract'. Indeed, he feels his father has the right to, say, beat him because he is his father, and that biological status means he has that right and it cannot be unjust. Has James signed a contract where he cannot escape the contract?

Suppose James, like most children, was born to his father. When did they exist independently to deliberate and discuss the terms of the contract?

Suppose James does not believe in social contract theory. How did he deliberate the terms of the contract?

To make it in more obvious terms: Kings like Louis XVI did not believe in the social contract - indeed, he saw it as heretical. Did Louis XVI sign a contract which he did not believe existed, after an inexistent deliberation with an illiterate population which he never met to come to terms on a contract which he promised not to uphold? This language becomes nonsensical at this point!

It's the answer to the question of the young man who's just come of age: WHY should I follow the law?

And yet it assumes there are no other answers. To give just a few of history's alternatives:

1) God's law must always be followed, as it is the objective law (and this law trumps kings, as e.g. Burke, Locke argued)
2) Kings are our only means of keeping the peace, and to go against them leads us to anarchy (as e.g. Hobbes, Bodin argued)
3) Kings are your artificial father, and therefore you must respect them due to natural law (as e.g. Filmer argued)
4) Utility (as Hume argued)

And, the most important of all...

5) THERE IS NO REASON WE SHOULD FOLLOW RULERS (as anarchists argued!)

5 is clearly important, as your argument assumes that rulers must be followed! Indeed, it is entirely possible that rule is arbitrary, and we in fact have no legitimate reason to do what rulers want. You may disagree, of course, but just supposing you're right does not convince the moral skeptic.

But the implication of that is that the father MUST care for his children, and look out for their interest--otherwise he's no real "father" and, indeed--we'd take the children of such a parent upon those grounds.

Filmer, and most people in history, believe the father has absolute dominion over the children, and does not have a duty of care other than subsistence. e.g. does the father have to look after the son after the age of 18? Ask the courts, as I have no idea myself.

These are almost undeniable in their historical validity, unlike the social contract, and doesn't seem to be clearly and indefensibly normatively flawed.

I don't see a meaningful difference between the argument as you've presented it here, except inasmuch as we might give more latitude to a "parent" than we do to the government as merely holder of the protective authority. Either way, a patriarch is expected to act for the family, and the family is expected to support the patriarch under that assumption.

The father is seen to have fixed duties, for example, that the son cannot debate or change. Nor, like a contract, can either the father or the son shirk their contract in favour of another one.

If the social contract is definitely historically wrong, though, and if it being historically accurate is necessary for it being normatively accurate, then we must say it is normatively inaccurate.

I disagree. If we argue that's the only real reason a government SHOULD exist, then how a government CAME into existence doesn't matter unless it conflicts with that.

I don't understand where I am not being clear here, so I'll phrase what I said in another way.

P1 - Social contract [a partially normative theory] explains moral rights and obligations through appealing to a contract that two parties signed, to create the parties' rights and obligations to one another.
P2 - The contract that two parties signed, does not exist.
P3 - If the contract does not exist, then the parties' rights and obligations do not exist.
C1 - Therefore, the parties' rights and obligations do not exist.

--

To summarise a lot of this, I think you're using a 'fast and loose' definition of social contract theory. If we imagine what makes up a contract, and we try to apply that to society (as Locke, Rousseau, and others did) then we see the flaws that Filmer brings out. If we use the contract to simply say "that rulers have duties and citizens have rights", then we're using an extremely vague notion of the contract.
Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach him how to be Gay, he'll positively influence the GDP.

Social Contract Theory debate: http://www.debate.org...
bladerunner060
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5/14/2014 5:17:09 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/14/2014 4:52:17 PM, Stephen_Hawkins wrote:

What you're doing here is ignoring what a contract is (a voluntary agreement between two people who previously were not bound to one another, and through a process of deliberation come to an explicit agreement on what the rights and obligations of either party are), and then using contract-language to describe the event. To make this explicit:

Suppose James never heard of this notion of 'contract'. Indeed, he feels his father has the right to, say, beat him because he is his father, and that biological status means he has that right and it cannot be unjust. Has James signed a contract where he cannot escape the contract?

I would disagree that he's signed a contract where he cannot escape it. Let's assume James is 18 (I'd rather not hypothetical children). If he stays, knowing the condition is that he will be treated cruelly, when he could leave, then he has to some extent agreed to it.

We have implicit/implied contracts all the time, I don't think it's fair to demand, in light of that, that unless the social contract is explicit it doesn't hold.

Suppose James, like most children, was born to his father. When did they exist independently to deliberate and discuss the terms of the contract?

They don't have to. At the time when he can make the decision, and decides to stay, then he can be said to have accepted the implied contract.

At the risk of telling you something you already know, but at the same time wanting to ensure it doesn't seem like I'm making things up out of whole cloth:

http://en.wikipedia.org...

Suppose James does not believe in social contract theory. How did he deliberate the terms of the contract?

Again: I think you are taking an unreasonable view of contract.

Just as in the example in that wikipedia article of the patient seeing the doctor--he may know nothing about what a contract is, but those are nonetheless his expectations.

To make it in more obvious terms: Kings like Louis XVI did not believe in the social contract - indeed, he saw it as heretical. Did Louis XVI sign a contract which he did not believe existed, after an inexistent deliberation with an illiterate population which he never met to come to terms on a contract which he promised not to uphold? This language becomes nonsensical at this point!

It only becomes nonsensical because of this (in my view) wholly unwarranted demand for explictness in the contract.

Louis the XVI was executed by his subjects--it wans't because he was an awesome ruler, that's for sure. Again, just because one party decides they don't want to have to pay their side of the contract doesn't invalidate it.

It's the answer to the question of the young man who's just come of age: WHY should I follow the law?

And yet it assumes there are no other answers. To give just a few of history's alternatives:

1) God's law must always be followed, as it is the objective law (and this law trumps kings, as e.g. Burke, Locke argued)

And I think we can safely dismiss this one on the grounds of irrationality.

2) Kings are our only means of keeping the peace, and to go against them leads us to anarchy (as e.g. Hobbes, Bodin argued)

And anarchy is bad because... Because it would lead to the defeat of the purpose of society and a lack of safety for the populace, would be the argument I would expect.

3) Kings are your artificial father, and therefore you must respect them due to natural law (as e.g. Filmer argued)

And fathers are expected to care for their children, in pretty much the exact way SCT expects them to.

4) Utility (as Hume argued)

And the utility argument is...that wihtout them there's anarchy, which is bad because it defeats the purpose of society.

And, the most important of all...

5) THERE IS NO REASON WE SHOULD FOLLOW RULERS (as anarchists argued!)

I know you're being at least somewhat facetious, but this is clearly absurd--there are REASONS. But that doesn't mean they are sufficient. Yet, if government is acting as SCT would say it should, there IS reason to follow, and reason not to--a utility to it, a respect for the overall structure, and in the end, the fulfillment of the mutually beneficial contract.

5 is clearly important, as your argument assumes that rulers must be followed!

Not at all. My argument asks, for what reasons should they exist WHATSOEVER. Inasmuch as it's reasonable to work as a group, and a group works best when there's some form of structure, it's reasonable to follow the government.

Indeed, it is entirely possible that rule is arbitrary, and we in fact have no legitimate reason to do what rulers want. You may disagree, of course, but just supposing you're right does not convince the moral skeptic.

Normative does not inherently mean moral. I don't think there's an inherent "morality" per se in following the government, nor do I think that's an absolutely required tenet of SCT.

I SHOULD go to school. For a host of reasons. But it's not IMMORAL not to go to school.

Filmer, and most people in history, believe the father has absolute dominion over the children, and does not have a duty of care other than subsistence.

So there's a question of how much duty, but not that a duty exists. Which rather invalidates your entire objection.

e.g. does the father have to look after the son after the age of 18? Ask the courts, as I have no idea myself.

Oh, certainly there is a question as to where the line is drawn--but not that there IS a line to be drawn.

I don't see a meaningful difference between the argument as you've presented it here, except inasmuch as we might give more latitude to a "parent" than we do to the government as merely holder of the protective authority. Either way, a patriarch is expected to act for the family, and the family is expected to support the patriarch under that assumption.

The father is seen to have fixed duties, for example, that the son cannot debate or change.

That may be A view of a father, but is by no means whatsoever a requirement.

Nor, like a contract, can either the father or the son shirk their contract in favour of another one.

Not to be rude, but that seems false. A father can give up his child, and a child can run away from home. A very YOUNG child is assumed to not have the ability to make that decision, but that's a matter of cognition.

I disagree. If we argue that's the only real reason a government SHOULD exist, then how a government CAME into existence doesn't matter unless it conflicts with that.

I don't understand where I am not being clear here, so I'll phrase what I said in another way.

P1 - Social contract [a partially normative theory] explains moral rights and obligations through appealing to a contract that two parties signed, to create the parties' rights and obligations to one another.
P2 - The contract that two parties signed, does not exist.
P3 - If the contract does not exist, then the parties' rights and obligations do not exist.
C1 - Therefore, the parties' rights and obligations do not exist.

Again, not all contracts need be "signed".

Let's say an apocalypse happens. I give you a turnip, and you give me a sheet of paper. This happens every week. Eventually, I decide "Well, I don't want to give you a turnip". Okay, then you won't give me the paper. Our implied contract has ended. But I wind up having no paper--and if I try to take it anyway, I'm a thief.

The rights and obligations only exist inasmuch as the contract is being followed. Louis the XVI gave up and explicitly rejected his duty to his citizens. They, therefore, rejected their duty to him...and executed him.
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bladerunner060
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5/14/2014 5:17:36 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
--

To summarise a lot of this, I think you're using a 'fast and loose' definition of social contract theory.

Probably true! I usually find that the more technical these things get, the more ridiculous they become--like those who try to argue that the patriarchial structure is DIFFERENT than the SCT structure, yet they agree there are still fundamentally similar obligations under the patriarchial structure.

If we imagine what makes up a contract, and we try to apply that to society (as Locke, Rousseau, and others did) then we see the flaws that Filmer brings out. If we use the contract to simply say "that rulers have duties and citizens have rights", then we're using an extremely vague notion of the contract.

And what, precisely, is wrong with that?
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5/14/2014 5:20:25 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/14/2014 3:03:24 PM, Stephen_Hawkins wrote:
http://www.debate.org...

I'd like some feedback on this debate. I am planning on writing an essay and submitting it to a few undergrad journals, but I am looking for feedback on the merit of the case. It would be on Filmer's political philosophy, and his strength as a response to the political arguments of his time (especially as a response to Locke, but perhaps also to Bodin, Rousseau, or some thinkers like Mornay and vindiciae contra tyrannos - I am still tossing up ideas).

One of his key arguments is against social contract theory, and is usually compared to Hume. As such, I used both in a debate I linked above. If anyone can give feedback to their arguments, it would be great. To be clear, I'm not looking for votes, I am looking for feedback on the strength of lack of in their arguments against social contract theory.

If you want me to review it, I'll be happy to do so. I was in grad school for this sort of thing for a while, after all.
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Stephen_Hawkins
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5/14/2014 5:33:18 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Okay, let's go through some general points:

1) A tacit contract cannot exist if either party does not believe a contract is taking place. James is not consenting to a father-son relationship contract if he does not believe consent is given by him nor that the contract exists.

2) A contract that is tacit lacks clearly defined rules of behaviour. So how do I know what the contract I have signed up is? If I believe I have signed a different contract to the other party, then is the contract still real?

3) Obligation is that which exists regardless of our personal whimsy on an issue. So if I ignore an obligation to others from a contract I have signed, I am not no longer consenting to a contract, I am not fulfilling my obligations. So if a social contract is broken systematically based on utility, and is only signed based on utility, then the social contract has no merit (assuming that both people have signed the same contract - if not, see (2) ), because the only reason to hold it is, not due to the social contract, but utility. In other words, obligation that arises from utility is no obligation at all, and so the utility-based-social contract is not a social contract at all.

I think these cut to the important part of what you're saying, but if you think I have missed a couple, please bring them up.
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Stephen_Hawkins
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5/14/2014 5:39:39 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/14/2014 5:17:36 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
--

To summarise a lot of this, I think you're using a 'fast and loose' definition of social contract theory.

Probably true! I usually find that the more technical these things get, the more ridiculous they become--like those who try to argue that the patriarchial structure is DIFFERENT than the SCT structure, yet they agree there are still fundamentally similar obligations under the patriarchial structure.

Social Contracts can change their obligations because the obligations are cultural. Patriarchal obligations are unchangeable as they are based in biology. Moreover, fathers' obligations to their children involve forcing them to do as they do not wish. Social Contracts require [tacit or no] consent for every act done.

Is that fundamentally different enough?

If we imagine what makes up a contract, and we try to apply that to society (as Locke, Rousseau, and others did) then we see the flaws that Filmer brings out. If we use the contract to simply say "that rulers have duties and citizens have rights", then we're using an extremely vague notion of the contract.

And what, precisely, is wrong with that?

As it is inaccurate of what the past philosophers argued, and vacuous anyway. The social contract lost all political power in the 19th and 18th century precisely as it was defined in this way, because the contract can be whatever I interpret it to be. Hence the divine law theorists interpreted the contract that everyone has signed as "You do what I the king says, and in return I will rule." Which, while social contracts were exactly anathema to, is consistent with this version of the social contract.

Ultimately, if they wanted to make a theory that is so deafeningly vague that anyone could justify any behaviour, they'd just have done what they always did - appeal to a combination of scripture and Greco-Roman philosophy and law. The social contract was in fact more meaningful than this - it actually mimicked a contract - and so had much more important political consequences.
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bladerunner060
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5/14/2014 5:45:46 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/14/2014 5:33:18 PM, Stephen_Hawkins wrote:
Okay, let's go through some general points:

1) A tacit contract cannot exist if either party does not believe a contract is taking place. James is not consenting to a father-son relationship contract if he does not believe consent is given by him nor that the contract exists.

I disagree--that's not entirely true (and that's what the basis of most "implied in fact" contract disputes are arguing about).

If his father tells him he cannot leave--that he's a slave, basically, then yeah, consent is not being given. If he knows he could leave, and chooses not to, then regardless of whether he thinks of it in terms of it being a "contract", it can be described as one.

2) A contract that is tacit lacks clearly defined rules of behaviour. So how do I know what the contract I have signed up is? If I believe I have signed a different contract to the other party, then is the contract still real?

There is a point at which you're stretching the bounds of incredulity. No patient can reasonably say "Oh, I went into the doctor's office for treatment, but I didn't expect I'd have to pay". I don't think any ruler can reasonably say (certainly not in this modern age) that they don't see any obligations towards their people, and I don't think a citizen can claim they had no idea that they were expected to follow the law.

3) Obligation is that which exists regardless of our personal whimsy on an issue. So if I ignore an obligation to others from a contract I have signed, I am not no longer consenting to a contract, I am not fulfilling my obligations. So if a social contract is broken systematically based on utility, and is only signed based on utility, then the social contract has no merit (assuming that both people have signed the same contract - if not, see (2) ), because the only reason to hold it is, not due to the social contract, but utility. In other words, obligation that arises from utility is no obligation at all, and so the utility-based-social contract is not a social contract at all.

The contract exists inasmuch as it creates an expectation. I expect that the rules of society will be there to protect me in general, even as I follow the ones which limit my rights. If they don't serve that purpose, I can't be expected to follow them.

I think these cut to the important part of what you're saying, but if you think I have missed a couple, please bring them up.

Meh, its certainly most of the important points.
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bladerunner060
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5/14/2014 5:49:37 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/14/2014 5:39:39 PM, Stephen_Hawkins wrote:

Social Contracts can change their obligations because the obligations are cultural. Patriarchal obligations are unchangeable as they are based in biology. Moreover, fathers' obligations to their children involve forcing them to do as they do not wish. Social Contracts require [tacit or no] consent for every act done.

Is that fundamentally different enough?

No, because it's not true. Patriarchal obligations are 100% cultural. In some societies, "it takes a village". In some, the head of household is the supreme ruler. In some households, debate is allowed (mine was one of those), in others, it is not. What defines the particulars of the relationship are entirely cultural. That there is some kind of relationship is the only part that I think you can support as biological.

If we imagine what makes up a contract, and we try to apply that to society (as Locke, Rousseau, and others did) then we see the flaws that Filmer brings out. If we use the contract to simply say "that rulers have duties and citizens have rights", then we're using an extremely vague notion of the contract.

And what, precisely, is wrong with that?

As it is inaccurate of what the past philosophers argued, and vacuous anyway. The social contract lost all political power in the 19th and 18th century precisely as it was defined in this way, because the contract can be whatever I interpret it to be. Hence the divine law theorists interpreted the contract that everyone has signed as "You do what I the king says, and in return I will rule." Which, while social contracts were exactly anathema to, is consistent with this version of the social contract.

Ultimately, if they wanted to make a theory that is so deafeningly vague that anyone could justify any behaviour, they'd just have done what they always did - appeal to a combination of scripture and Greco-Roman philosophy and law. The social contract was in fact more meaningful than this - it actually mimicked a contract - and so had much more important political consequences.

I think they folded in the rational justification for following government. I don't think that they did so is "vacuous". I think it was a framework within which to discuss what the proper manner of having authority in society should be. And for that, I think it's effective. There will always be variety in types of government, and variety, therefore, in the expected terms of the "contract".
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Stephen_Hawkins
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5/14/2014 6:09:47 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/14/2014 5:45:46 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 5/14/2014 5:33:18 PM, Stephen_Hawkins wrote:
Okay, let's go through some general points:

1) A tacit contract cannot exist if either party does not believe a contract is taking place. James is not consenting to a father-son relationship contract if he does not believe consent is given by him nor that the contract exists.

I disagree--that's not entirely true (and that's what the basis of most "implied in fact" contract disputes are arguing about).

If his father tells him he cannot leave--that he's a slave, basically, then yeah, consent is not being given. If he knows he could leave, and chooses not to, then regardless of whether he thinks of it in terms of it being a "contract", it can be described as one.

Okay, so let's do a really obvious example here. The son believes he has a moral obligation to fulfill his duty to his father. This duty includes doing whatever his father says. Neither individual believes they have signed a contract. Yet you claim, even though no party involved signs, tacit or otherwise, a contract, that it is still a contract. I say: this is explicitly not a contract. When we can conceive of situations where no-one thinks it is a contract, and a contract is commonly defined as an agreement between two people on obligation and rights based on deliberation and mutual benefit, then it seems ludicrous to call a situation where there is no deliberation, no mutual benefit, and no agreement from either party that they have signed a contract, a contract.

It's a reverse duck. It doesn't look like a duck, it doesn't walk like a duck, nor does it quack like a duck. Yet you are steadfastly claiming it is a duck. What are the necessary & sufficient conditions for a contract, simply put, that these individuals have taken part in?

2) A contract that is tacit lacks clearly defined rules of behaviour. So how do I know what the contract I have signed up is? If I believe I have signed a different contract to the other party, then is the contract still real?

There is a point at which you're stretching the bounds of incredulity. No patient can reasonably say "Oh, I went into the doctor's office for treatment, but I didn't expect I'd have to pay".

A patient can expect to not have a blood transfusion when a doctor makes an emergency decision to save their lives. A patient can expect a reasonable price for their healthcare, and then think they are being swindled. A patient can reasonably go to the doctors' office and not expect a woman, because some people believe the system should cater to their specific tastes.

I can keep going. People can expect a decent sized room, or that the doctor won't make things worse, or that the doctor will be risk averse, or that they will be fed three times a day, or that they won't be locked in quarantine, etc. etc. etc.

To take a more clear example with politicians: a voter can expect their party they vote for to not go in coalition. They can expect their party not to negotiate with the conservatives. They can expect their party not to raise tuition fees. They can expect their party to not renege on their manifesto pledges. They can expect their party not to go into coalition with the conservative party. They can expect their party not to keep around a spineless leader instead of Vince Cable. They can expect their party to fight harder on issues that matter to them. They can expect many things from their party, but the tacit contract for the voter was "you'll do what I want you to, as you said in your manifesto", while the politician's idea was "I'll do what I think is in your best interest" or even "I will rule on your behalf - but I will do so in my interests as much as yours."

I don't think any ruler can reasonably say (certainly not in this modern age) that they don't see any obligations towards their people, and I don't think a citizen can claim they had no idea that they were expected to follow the law.

Apart from all those who break laws they don't see as important - like the millions who ignore the drug bans in the US and UK. Or that guy in Texas currently fighting the US government. Or even Nelson Mandela, who literally ignored his people's cries for blood because he thought he saw a better way (I use the example because I want to be neutral about obligation to the people, and it can be in their best interests to ignore them, which may be the moral duty of a democrat but not a legal one).

3) Obligation is that which exists regardless of our personal whimsy on an issue. So if I ignore an obligation to others from a contract I have signed, I am not no longer consenting to a contract, I am not fulfilling my obligations. So if a social contract is broken systematically based on utility, and is only signed based on utility, then the social contract has no merit (assuming that both people have signed the same contract - if not, see (2) ), because the only reason to hold it is, not due to the social contract, but utility. In other words, obligation that arises from utility is no obligation at all, and so the utility-based-social contract is not a social contract at all.

The contract exists inasmuch as it creates an expectation. I expect that the rules of society will be there to protect me in general, even as I follow the ones which limit my rights. If they don't serve that purpose, I can't be expected to follow them.

If it is just expectation, then the leader has no obligation at all to do what you want! He should try and make your expectations seemed as fulfilled as possible, and then line his pockets and run. If it is just expectation, then you're not talking of the traditional social contract.
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Stephen_Hawkins
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5/14/2014 6:16:35 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/14/2014 5:49:37 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 5/14/2014 5:39:39 PM, Stephen_Hawkins wrote:

Social Contracts can change their obligations because the obligations are cultural. Patriarchal obligations are unchangeable as they are based in biology. Moreover, fathers' obligations to their children involve forcing them to do as they do not wish. Social Contracts require [tacit or no] consent for every act done.

Is that fundamentally different enough?

No, because it's not true. Patriarchal obligations are 100% cultural.

You're missing my point - this is a moral view. You have a moral obligation to listen to your parents, and similarly your parents have a moral obligation to lead. That you do it differently, or anyone does it different, is irrelevant to the arguments of patriarchalists like Filmer. The state, like the family (as it is just an artificial family) is ruled by the father (statesman) who is expected to lead, and you the people are the sons and daughters who follow them.

Ultimately, if they wanted to make a theory that is so deafeningly vague that anyone could justify any behaviour, they'd just have done what they always did - appeal to a combination of scripture and Greco-Roman philosophy and law. The social contract was in fact more meaningful than this - it actually mimicked a contract - and so had much more important political consequences.

I think they folded in the rational justification for following government. I don't think that they did so is "vacuous". I think it was a framework within which to discuss what the proper manner of having authority in society should be. And for that, I think it's effective. There will always be variety in types of government, and variety, therefore, in the expected terms of the "contract".

Then you're just being inaccurate with the use of the word. The term was not a framework to discuss different options, but set the origins, extent, and end of government, to paraphrase Locke. It is the equivalent of calling yourself a Neitzschean, then appealing to the moral laws discovered by Kant. Or saying you believe in hard determinism, then arguing that someone is entirely responsible for their actions. It is just incorrect use of terminology, akin to calling sulphur tin in chemistry, or saying that the patella is in the arm in biology.

As one side point: what precise actions does your contract limit, that cannot be excused by a different formulation of the contract? If the contract is one where it can be left at any time and ignored with no repercussions, then as Hobbes pointed out the contract has no force and so does not make any obligation or right to anyone (that is, rights requires a threat to anyone who breaks them that they shall be punished, yet if you can just leave the contract and then break a right with no repercussion, then who cares about the contract!)
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dylancatlow
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5/14/2014 6:20:05 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/14/2014 4:41:31 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
"Society is formed from families coming together, not individuals. Before the contract, authority still exists within families."

It could be argued that people consign themselves to family for personal benefits. If a family deems that it's best to cooperate with other families, then said cooperation ultimately implicates the individual. It's a stratification, don't you see? People cooperate with other people and the other people cooperate in turn for individual reasons.



Essentially, it's social contract theory through the lens of family.
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5/14/2014 6:20:25 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/14/2014 6:09:47 PM, Stephen_Hawkins wrote:
At 5/14/2014 5:45:46 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 5/14/2014 5:33:18 PM, Stephen_Hawkins wrote:
Okay, let's go through some general points:

1) A tacit contract cannot exist if either party does not believe a contract is taking place. James is not consenting to a father-son relationship contract if he does not believe consent is given by him nor that the contract exists.

I disagree--that's not entirely true (and that's what the basis of most "implied in fact" contract disputes are arguing about).

If his father tells him he cannot leave--that he's a slave, basically, then yeah, consent is not being given. If he knows he could leave, and chooses not to, then regardless of whether he thinks of it in terms of it being a "contract", it can be described as one.

Okay, so let's do a really obvious example here. The son believes he has a moral obligation to fulfill his duty to his father.

And that he cannot leave? Then he believes, morally, that he is a slave. I grant--if that's what he believes, then that's what he believes. But I could just as easily walk into my doctor's office and just start giving him money, too.

This duty includes doing whatever his father says. Neither individual believes they have signed a contract.

Such a, to my mind, ill-placed, focus on signing.

Yet you claim, even though no party involved signs, tacit or otherwise, a contract, that it is still a contract. I say: this is explicitly not a contract.

A written contract is the explicit enumeration of expectations, with the implication that they can be, in some manner enforced.

If the father expects to have to care for the child, but expects that the child will do his bidding,

And if the child expects to be cared for, but expects to have to do his father's bidding, then that is definitely a contract in fact.

When we can conceive of situations where no-one thinks it is a contract, and a contract is commonly defined as an agreement between two people on obligation and rights based on deliberation and mutual benefit, then it seems ludicrous to call a situation where there is no deliberation, no mutual benefit, and no agreement from either party that they have signed a contract, a contract.

That's because you seem to be ignoring the deliberation (wherein the type of relationship is known), the mutual benefit (wherein the child obeys, but is cared for), and the agreement (wherein the parent doesn't give the child up for adoption, and the child doesn't run away).

It's a reverse duck. It doesn't look like a duck, it doesn't walk like a duck, nor does it quack like a duck. Yet you are steadfastly claiming it is a duck. What are the necessary & sufficient conditions for a contract, simply put, that these individuals have taken part in?

Again: I stongly disagree with your entire thesis here.

2) A contract that is tacit lacks clearly defined rules of behaviour. So how do I know what the contract I have signed up is? If I believe I have signed a different contract to the other party, then is the contract still real?

There is a point at which you're stretching the bounds of incredulity. No patient can reasonably say "Oh, I went into the doctor's office for treatment, but I didn't expect I'd have to pay".

A patient can expect to not have a blood transfusion when a doctor makes an emergency decision to save their lives. A patient can expect a reasonable price for their healthcare, and then think they are being swindled. A patient can reasonably go to the doctors' office and not expect a woman, because some people believe the system should cater to their specific tastes.

Which is why there are cultural impacts, yes.

I can keep going. People can expect a decent sized room, or that the doctor won't make things worse, or that the doctor will be risk averse, or that they will be fed three times a day, or that they won't be locked in quarantine, etc. etc. etc.

To take a more clear example with politicians: a voter can expect their party they vote for to not go in coalition. They can expect their party not to negotiate with the conservatives. They can expect their party not to raise tuition fees. They can expect their party to not renege on their manifesto pledges. They can expect their party not to go into coalition with the conservative party. They can expect their party not to keep around a spineless leader instead of Vince Cable. They can expect their party to fight harder on issues that matter to them. They can expect many things from their party, but the tacit contract for the voter was "you'll do what I want you to, as you said in your manifesto", while the politician's idea was "I'll do what I think is in your best interest" or even "I will rule on your behalf - but I will do so in my interests as much as yours."

That you fault the implied nature of the contract doesn't negate its existence. Again: Implied-in-fact contracts do exist, yet you seem to be arguing quite strongly that they don't, and I'm baffled.

I don't think any ruler can reasonably say (certainly not in this modern age) that they don't see any obligations towards their people, and I don't think a citizen can claim they had no idea that they were expected to follow the law.

Apart from all those who break laws they don't see as important - like the millions who ignore the drug bans in the US and UK. Or that guy in Texas currently fighting the US government. Or even Nelson Mandela, who literally ignored his people's cries for blood because he thought he saw a better way (I use the example because I want to be neutral about obligation to the people, and it can be in their best interests to ignore them, which may be the moral duty of a democrat but not a legal one).

And they expect, if they get caught, to be punished--so they aren't violating the contract. None of them are surprised that, having been caught for breaking the law, they go to jail.

I've had to pay several ETFs. I'd be happy if I didn't, if my carrier didn't "catch" me. But they, of course, do (much more oversight with cell carriers), so I pay the ETF. I don't see how this supports your point.

3) Obligation is that which exists regardless of our personal whimsy on an issue. So if I ignore an obligation to others from a contract I have signed, I am not no longer consenting to a contract, I am not fulfilling my obligations. So if a social contract is broken systematically based on utility, and is only signed based on utility, then the social contract has no merit (assuming that both people have signed the same contract - if not, see (2) ), because the only reason to hold it is, not due to the social contract, but utility. In other words, obligation that arises from utility is no obligation at all, and so the utility-based-social contract is not a social contract at all.

The contract exists inasmuch as it creates an expectation. I expect that the rules of society will be there to protect me in general, even as I follow the ones which limit my rights. If they don't serve that purpose, I can't be expected to follow them.

If it is just expectation, then the leader has no obligation at all to do what you want! He should try and make your expectations seemed as fulfilled as possible, and then line his pockets and run. If it is just expectation, then you're not talking of the traditional social contract.

Nope, because then he's violated the contract--by getting "his" side of it, and ignoring the other side. In that case, I'd expect him to have to be jailed, caught, etc., in keeping with my expectations.
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YYW
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5/14/2014 6:22:12 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/14/2014 3:03:24 PM, Stephen_Hawkins wrote:
http://www.debate.org...

I'd like some feedback on this debate. I am planning on writing an essay and submitting it to a few undergrad journals, but I am looking for feedback on the merit of the case. It would be on Filmer's political philosophy, and his strength as a response to the political arguments of his time (especially as a response to Locke, but perhaps also to Bodin, Rousseau, or some thinkers like Mornay and vindiciae contra tyrannos - I am still tossing up ideas).

One of his key arguments is against social contract theory, and is usually compared to Hume. As such, I used both in a debate I linked above. If anyone can give feedback to their arguments, it would be great. To be clear, I'm not looking for votes, I am looking for feedback on the strength of lack of in their arguments against social contract theory.

http://www.efm.bris.ac.uk...
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bladerunner060
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5/14/2014 6:25:11 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/14/2014 6:16:35 PM, Stephen_Hawkins wrote:
At 5/14/2014 5:49:37 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 5/14/2014 5:39:39 PM, Stephen_Hawkins wrote:

Social Contracts can change their obligations because the obligations are cultural. Patriarchal obligations are unchangeable as they are based in biology. Moreover, fathers' obligations to their children involve forcing them to do as they do not wish. Social Contracts require [tacit or no] consent for every act done.

Is that fundamentally different enough?

No, because it's not true. Patriarchal obligations are 100% cultural.

You're missing my point - this is a moral view. You have a moral obligation to listen to your parents,

Ah. Well, I strongly diagree with that, and reject your argument that that moral obligation is "biological"--to me, such an argument is patently absurd. I have an obligation only inasmuch as I survive thanks to their efforts, so I have to meet "my end" of that bargain. But if I reject that bargain and move out, I'm no longer obliged to do so, and I fail to see any biological reason to the contrary.

I think they folded in the rational justification for following government. I don't think that they did so is "vacuous". I think it was a framework within which to discuss what the proper manner of having authority in society should be. And for that, I think it's effective. There will always be variety in types of government, and variety, therefore, in the expected terms of the "contract".

Then you're just being inaccurate with the use of the word. The term was not a framework to discuss different options, but set the origins, extent, and end of government, to paraphrase Locke. It is the equivalent of calling yourself a Neitzschean, then appealing to the moral laws discovered by Kant. Or saying you believe in hard determinism, then arguing that someone is entirely responsible for their actions. It is just incorrect use of terminology, akin to calling sulphur tin in chemistry, or saying that the patella is in the arm in biology.

I disagree. The social contract is the framework, yes? And what's in the contract is the normative "should", as in "This "should" be the contract".

As one side point: what precise actions does your contract limit, that cannot be excused by a different formulation of the contract? If the contract is one where it can be left at any time and ignored with no repercussions, then as Hobbes pointed out the contract has no force and so does not make any obligation or right to anyone (that is, rights requires a threat to anyone who breaks them that they shall be punished, yet if you can just leave the contract and then break a right with no repercussion, then who cares about the contract!)

If you "leave the contract", you have to leave the country--just as if you "leave the contract" with your parents, you have to leave their house. You don't get to stay in their house, eating their food, and claim you reject the terms of doing so.

As to what the terms of the contract ARE, well, that's a subject of much debate, innit? I mean, it isn't written down, so it will always be in the realm of "I think this SHOULD be the case" in terms of future decisions, and "this WAS the case" in terms of past decisions. For past decisions, the "limits" are those prescribed by the law--which is the reason to HAVE laws.
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YYW
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5/14/2014 6:25:34 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Btw. vindicating... or even attempting to haphazardly defend Filmer is a fool's errand. There is a reason Patriarchia was circulated in manuscript alone...
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Stephen_Hawkins
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5/14/2014 6:45:45 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/14/2014 6:25:34 PM, YYW wrote:
Btw. vindicating... or even attempting to haphazardly defend Filmer is a fool's errand. There is a reason Patriarchia was circulated in manuscript alone...

I'm not sure where to start...

1) It was published posthumously, left in manuscript because he preferred his other works to it
2) Among manuscript, it was very well received by both Tories and Whigs alike
3) It was presented to King James, as it was seen as such a strong text
4) When published, it was a sensation among both critics and writers
5) Filmer is becoming more and more well received among modern scholars of 17th century philosophy
6) Patriarcha itself was generally quarried for materials to be published in a series of responses to Hobbes, Aristotle, Hudson, etc. to the extent that publishing the book would be the same as republishing all his old material.
7) It was itself quoted by many other Divine Right King theorists almost wholesale for their own books.
8) And last but not least, the probably most important philosophy text of the twentyfirst century, On What Matters, circulated for decades as a manuscript copy. The fact that it spent so long in manuscript probably is not a good reason to condemn a book - Bodin similarly spent ages in manuscript. It means rather little.

I've not brought up any of the authors that I think are indebted to Filmer's critiques of Locke, or the (I think fair) speculation of modern political philosophers who argue that Filmer's critique shaped the discourse of political philosophy in the Exclusionist Crisis, but I think I have started a fair list of the errors in such a sweeping statement.
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Stephen_Hawkins
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5/14/2014 6:57:11 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/14/2014 6:25:11 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
You're missing my point - this is a moral view. You have a moral obligation to listen to your parents,

Ah. Well, I strongly diagree with that, and reject your argument that that moral obligation is "biological"--to me, such an argument is patently absurd.

Sorry, I was being unclear - I was spelling out the patriarchalist perspective.

I have an obligation only inasmuch as I survive thanks to their efforts,

This is in short the patriarchalist perspective. You have a duty to them as you have a debt to your parents.

I disagree. The social contract is the framework, yes? And what's in the contract is the normative "should", as in "This "should" be the contract".

The 'should' is a moral one, whereby breaking the contract (for e.g. self-interest) is morally unjust. Would you agree with this? As I cannot think of a social contract theorist who disagrees with my statement.

As one side point: what precise actions does your contract limit, that cannot be excused by a different formulation of the contract? If the contract is one where it can be left at any time and ignored with no repercussions, then as Hobbes pointed out the contract has no force and so does not make any obligation or right to anyone (that is, rights requires a threat to anyone who breaks them that they shall be punished, yet if you can just leave the contract and then break a right with no repercussion, then who cares about the contract!)

If you "leave the contract", you have to leave the country--just as if you "leave the contract" with your parents, you have to leave their house. You don't get to stay in their house, eating their food, and claim you reject the terms of doing so.

As Hume (taking from Filmer in my view) pointed out, this is essentially state coercion. If I want to leave the state, and I try to leave the state, but cannot, then why am I subject to its laws? Indeed, if I did not know that the contract was even formed, how am I to be subject to it?

Imagine I now state this phrase: "I AM THE LORD OF THE NORTHERN HEMISPHERE". What makes this distinct from the social contract?

Of course, if it is a contract I have formed, then you are now my subject, and until you leave the northern hemisphere you have a moral obligation to do as I wish. If it is not a contract due to the lack of force I maintain, then all contracts are coercive and therefore not based on free consent. Moreover, the contract claims

If your continuous claims that "I am not subject to the [UK for example]" are not enough to break the contract, then your claim "I am not subject to Steve" is not enough to break the contract.

I would say that it is because we did not discuss and agree on this contract is why it is not properly formed. Yet you claim that the parent forms a contract with the child, yet they did not surely discuss with the child what the contract is (nor do you do so with most social interactions in society, I imagine). If we agree that parents did not form the contract, then obligation exists independent of the contract. And if obligation exists independent of the contract, then as long as governments imitate families they demand obligations.

As to what the terms of the contract ARE, well, that's a subject of much debate, innit? I mean, it isn't written down, so it will always be in the realm of "I think this SHOULD be the case" in terms of future decisions, and "this WAS the case" in terms of past decisions.

The contract was aimed to stop these precise debates. Your formulation not just fails to stop these debates, but it does not resolve any questions, excepts postulates duties exist (and even then based only on self-interest, so it is dubious whether duties exist at all).
Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach him how to be Gay, he'll positively influence the GDP.

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Stephen_Hawkins
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5/14/2014 7:05:40 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/14/2014 6:20:25 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 5/14/2014 6:09:47 PM, Stephen_Hawkins wrote:
Okay, so let's do a really obvious example here. The son believes he has a moral obligation to fulfill his duty to his father.

And that he cannot leave? Then he believes, morally, that he is a slave. I grant--if that's what he believes, then that's what he believes. But I could just as easily walk into my doctor's office and just start giving him money, too.

This duty includes doing whatever his father says. Neither individual believes they have signed a contract.

Such a, to my mind, ill-placed, focus on signing.

Yet you claim, even though no party involved signs, tacit or otherwise, a contract, that it is still a contract. I say: this is explicitly not a contract.

A written contract is the explicit enumeration of expectations, with the implication that they can be, in some manner enforced.

If the father expects to have to care for the child, but expects that the child will do his bidding,

And if the child expects to be cared for, but expects to have to do his father's bidding, then that is definitely a contract in fact.

Suppose two individuals who never have met are pacifists who never wish to cause harm to anything, nor do. Have they signed a contract (or expressed, or stated, or any verb you choose to use in this context) saying they will not harm each other?

If we get to the stage where people who do not believe in a contract are signing contracts, and people who do not meet each other are signing contracts, and people who have never heard of the social contract theory - or even the concept of contracts - are making contracts with others of their own volition, then we have a very faulty theory.
Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach him how to be Gay, he'll positively influence the GDP.

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Stephen_Hawkins
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5/14/2014 7:06:04 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/14/2014 6:20:05 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 5/14/2014 4:41:31 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
"Society is formed from families coming together, not individuals. Before the contract, authority still exists within families."

It could be argued that people consign themselves to family for personal benefits. If a family deems that it's best to cooperate with other families, then said cooperation ultimately implicates the individual. It's a stratification, don't you see? People cooperate with other people and the other people cooperate in turn for individual reasons.

Essentially, it's social contract theory through the lens of family.

My general problem with this theory is that it again plays fast and loose with the term 'social contract theory'.
Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach him how to be Gay, he'll positively influence the GDP.

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dylancatlow
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5/14/2014 7:31:10 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/14/2014 7:06:04 PM, Stephen_Hawkins wrote:
At 5/14/2014 6:20:05 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 5/14/2014 4:41:31 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
"Society is formed from families coming together, not individuals. Before the contract, authority still exists within families."

It could be argued that people consign themselves to family for personal benefits. If a family deems that it's best to cooperate with other families, then said cooperation ultimately implicates the individual. It's a stratification, don't you see? People cooperate with other people and the other people cooperate in turn for individual reasons.

Essentially, it's social contract theory through the lens of family.

My general problem with this theory is that it again plays fast and loose with the term 'social contract theory'.

Not really. The only reason that families cooperate is because it's beneficial for everyone individually for families to cooperate.
bladerunner060
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5/14/2014 10:37:19 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/14/2014 6:57:11 PM, Stephen_Hawkins wrote:

The 'should' is a moral one, whereby breaking the contract (for e.g. self-interest) is morally unjust. Would you agree with this? As I cannot think of a social contract theorist who disagrees with my statement.

I would agree because they're always getting one side of that contract, and not wanting to deliver on the other.

As one side point: what precise actions does your contract limit, that cannot be excused by a different formulation of the contract? If the contract is one where it can be left at any time and ignored with no repercussions, then as Hobbes pointed out the contract has no force and so does not make any obligation or right to anyone (that is, rights requires a threat to anyone who breaks them that they shall be punished, yet if you can just leave the contract and then break a right with no repercussion, then who cares about the contract!)

If you "leave the contract", you have to leave the country--just as if you "leave the contract" with your parents, you have to leave their house. You don't get to stay in their house, eating their food, and claim you reject the terms of doing so.

As Hume (taking from Filmer in my view) pointed out, this is essentially state coercion. If I want to leave the state, and I try to leave the state, but cannot, then why am I subject to its laws?

I would argue that you are not--and that under a SCT, you definitely are not--because then it's not a contract you're in.

Indeed, if I did not know that the contract was even formed, how am I to be subject to it?

I strongly feel this is a weak argument. You are aware of the things which make up the contract, even if you're unaware of the term contract.

Imagine I now state this phrase: "I AM THE LORD OF THE NORTHERN HEMISPHERE". What makes this distinct from the social contract?

One exists, and can be entered into.

The other you just made up.

Fundamentally, social constructs ARE "made up", but right now one exists--and the grounds for its continued existence can be justified with SCT, wherein both parties are getting a benefit.

Of course, if it is a contract I have formed, then you are now my subject, and until you leave the northern hemisphere you have a moral obligation to do as I wish. If it is not a contract due to the lack of force I maintain, then all contracts are coercive and therefore not based on free consent. Moreover, the contract claims

If your continuous claims that "I am not subject to the [UK for example]" are not enough to break the contract, then your claim "I am not subject to Steve" is not enough to break the contract.

I disagree--because "the UK" has existed for far longer than "Steve".

If you enter into an existing system, you can't then complain that the system exists. The UK exists, and is a supportive social construct that people have entered into of their own will.

If you want to reject that, fine, but the geographical limitation is not unreasonable.

Meanwhile, your "Steve" has asserted based on nothing, out of the blue, and without any other support.

I would say that it is because we did not discuss and agree on this contract is why it is not properly formed. Yet you claim that the parent forms a contract with the child, yet they did not surely discuss with the child what the contract is (nor do you do so with most social interactions in society, I imagine). If we agree that parents did not form the contract, then obligation exists independent of the contract. And if obligation exists independent of the contract, then as long as governments imitate families they demand obligations.

Again: I can morally reject the obligations of "family"--and I challenge anyone to defend that I cannot.

If there's an obligation you've entered into freely, then it is, for all intents and purposes, describable as a "contract".

As to what the terms of the contract ARE, well, that's a subject of much debate, innit? I mean, it isn't written down, so it will always be in the realm of "I think this SHOULD be the case" in terms of future decisions, and "this WAS the case" in terms of past decisions.

The contract was aimed to stop these precise debates. Your formulation not just fails to stop these debates, but it does not resolve any questions, excepts postulates duties exist (and even then based only on self-interest, so it is dubious whether duties exist at all).

The contract may have been aimed at that, but it was a clearly laughable goal from the start. There will ALWAYS be different forms of government, whether in big ways or small ways, so it can NEVER be comprehensive for all governments in all places at all times.
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Stephen_Hawkins
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5/15/2014 4:26:50 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/14/2014 7:31:10 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 5/14/2014 7:06:04 PM, Stephen_Hawkins wrote:
At 5/14/2014 6:20:05 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 5/14/2014 4:41:31 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
"Society is formed from families coming together, not individuals. Before the contract, authority still exists within families."

It could be argued that people consign themselves to family for personal benefits. If a family deems that it's best to cooperate with other families, then said cooperation ultimately implicates the individual. It's a stratification, don't you see? People cooperate with other people and the other people cooperate in turn for individual reasons.

Essentially, it's social contract theory through the lens of family.

My general problem with this theory is that it again plays fast and loose with the term 'social contract theory'.

Not really. The only reason that families cooperate is because it's beneficial for everyone individually for families to cooperate.

But the social contract is binding even when it is not a win-win situation, according to social contract theorists. Otherwise, it is a contract of utility, which is no contract at all.
Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach him how to be Gay, he'll positively influence the GDP.

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Mhykiel
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5/15/2014 5:00:57 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/15/2014 4:26:50 AM, Stephen_Hawkins wrote:
At 5/14/2014 7:31:10 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 5/14/2014 7:06:04 PM, Stephen_Hawkins wrote:
At 5/14/2014 6:20:05 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 5/14/2014 4:41:31 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
"Society is formed from families coming together, not individuals. Before the contract, authority still exists within families."

It could be argued that people consign themselves to family for personal benefits. If a family deems that it's best to cooperate with other families, then said cooperation ultimately implicates the individual. It's a stratification, don't you see? People cooperate with other people and the other people cooperate in turn for individual reasons.

Essentially, it's social contract theory through the lens of family.

My general problem with this theory is that it again plays fast and loose with the term 'social contract theory'.

Not really. The only reason that families cooperate is because it's beneficial for everyone individually for families to cooperate.

But the social contract is binding even when it is not a win-win situation, according to social contract theorists. Otherwise, it is a contract of utility, which is no contract at all.

I hate politics for so many reasons. I'm really in deep water here, but you look like someone who can throw me a rope.

First your description of the contract, the conclusion being no written contract no contract. How does that apply to verbal contracts?

Your example of Father and Son. When the son is young they have no understanding and can not consent to any contract. Which is why even in court a father has to file on behave of the minor, in the old days this was also needed for a wife to file under her husbands name.

So if the child can not consent then there is no contract, When child comes of age they can emancipate themselves under the same premise that no contract binds them. Or they can agree to obey the house rules in exchange to live in that house, thereby making a contract.

As for the 2 pacifist meeting each other, do they have a contract. I wonder if they have even identified themselves as pacifist. Then I ask, If a person identifies themselves as a pacifist are they creating a contract with the other. In that he is saying these are my actions (non violence) in exchange you (the other pacifist) not harm me. Then if harm should come he is lying but he is really in breach of a contract?