The Social Contract Smashed.

The above quote from Thomas Hobbes is indicative of what he thinks about human nature. Man is not naturally bad, but his natural(and cultural) individualism is what leads him into bad choices and other vices which culminate in the decline of moral norms.

This is false as it is the Hobbesian conception of individuality that leads to vices such a lust, selfishness, cruelty etc. The folk psychological conception of individuality is the betterment of oneself and the protection of other peoples rights to attain individuality. Even if we were to agree that individuality leads to disorder, we would still be within the fire pit of folly as it relates to say the nature of the market. The voluntary exchange of goods and services does not just require sensible and morally palatable conduct, it is a system that comes out of the innately understood moral norms that were already present.

If we dismiss intuitions and just look at the simple ideas we get from primitive sense data(Locke), we know which moral norms endure regardless of cultural changes that may occur in society or even in a company. We know that a manager swearing at an employee is immoral conduct much like not honoring ones parents through using abusive language is. We know on reflection that the relations which once created a partnership or paternal bond are substantially altered after the unpleasant confrontation. The arguer may continue to have these confrontations due his or her impulsivity as opposed to not knowing(intellectually) that what they are doing is immoral. The impulse thus outweighs sensibility which differentiates the argumentative from the calm.

If we accept that ideas are innate, then we must also accept the content of primitive intuitions as being apart of ones conscience. Somehow we are able to know what is right and wrong by an internal whip that keeps us in check. If we did not have an innate understanding of why kindness is more pleasantly experienced than meanness, relationships would only be sought for there utility. Hobbes would deny the existence of a conscience by way of his machinist/artificial view of man which acts a crucial starting point for the purpose of persuading the reader that man requires governance.

As it relates to the usefulness of a social contract, we have no way of knowing how it benefits the public when we are seldom, if ever, forced to retreat from an oncoming invasion from a foreign military. It is also highly improbable that a a lone king/central government will efficiently be informed and foresee what disasters may occur in far off localities. When the disaster comes, the local gun store or emergency response team may be shackled by the regulations within the social contract which state that those in certain businesses can supply but not compete with the King in the field of law enforcement. The public however, by way of sheer numbers, diversity of interests and epistemological positioning(that is to say, being in a better position to receive verifiable information) are far more advanced then the government as it is the government who creates job positions for the former outsiders of the realm. For instance, we know that there are many skilled persons that evaluate policies and study subjects like ethics, media, finance, medicine, risk management, psychology, moral philosophy etc. If there already is a large sum of educated people who have a grasp of objective moral truths, then we need only those who are apart of a crime ridden cesspit to sign a social contract. The contract does not, as observed, have to govern the entire country in ways akin to the governance of a lone cesspit.

If we except the premise that individuality leads to the barbarity that is characteristic of the so called state of nature, then we must ask what it is that bestows supernormal powers upon King? Is the King no longer a man by way of status and formality? I hesitate to judge, as he does own all the guns.

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Luke "Lantern" Thompson

I am a lay libertarian, bioethicist, writer, philosopher, alternative health and reform advocate and more.