I think that all the people in a society have to give up the same set of rights in order for the social contract to work. The rights that are given up are transferred to the government. However, the government does not have to give up anything. I believe that all adults have to give up their rights. A child, however, cannot because they do not know what is going on. It is then the child’s parents’ responsibility to give up their rights for them and instill this idea into them, so that when they reach maturity they will be ready to enter the social contract.
I think that John Stuart Mill had the most interesting view on morality. It also seems to make the most sense. Compared to all the other philosophers we’ve talked about this semester, Mill’s view seems the most ethical and practical. Morality is based on how overall happiness is affected by your actions. This makes sense because you will be responsible for your own actions. The other philosophers have too many external factors that play a role in morality. At least with Mill, you seem to be in control of your morality and directly affect it. The idea that morality is based on overall happiness of everyone and not just yourself makes the concept all the more appealing.
Aristotle believes in order to be happy and moral you need to be virtuous. You get virtue through experience and doing virtuous things a lot. Virtuous actions are those done by virtuous people (generally). Virtue is the average/intermediate relative to us. For example, the intermediate of self-confidence would be confidence. Too little would be haughty and too much would be insecure. This works with many things like fear or intelligence. However, when it comes to things like murder or rape, the word implies an extreme already. An extreme of anything is bad. Aristotle believes in a relative intermediate or average. Murder is already an extreme so, right away you know it is bad.
It is necessary to have a sovereign, higher power to execute punishments and make sure people keep their promises. The rights that are given up by the people are transferred to the government. The social contract cannot exist without the higher power. This raises the question of is the government morally responsible. I think that the agents of the government can be held morally responsible because they are people. I do not think the government itself could be held responsible. It is just an institution and judging it’s morality will have no results. However, judging the people of the government has worth and meaning. It does not make sense to judge an inanimate object, but you can judge the people of the government.
I think that Hobbes is correct in his thoery about the state of nature. If there were no government or police to control us, the state of nature would be chaotic and possibly war-like. Even with police and governments to restrict and limit us, people still fight over resources. If we continue to fight over these scarce resources, we would have no time to satisfy our desires and progress. You cannot live in a world where you are always fearful of everyone and always fight with others. Our rights have to be limited so we can actually fulfill our desires.
I think I would have to choose Mill’s theory on morality, utilitarianism. Both theories by Kant and Mill have flaws and are problematic. In the end, I think utilitarianism would be better for society. You would think more of the consequences of your action. Even though one’s intention or reason’s for acting does not play a role in it’s morality, the end result is the probably the most important. Think about the case about the grandmother. If you lie, then your grandmother will live. Mill says this action is not immoral because you increase overall happiness by not having your grandmother killed. However, Kant says you cannot lie at all. This will lead to the sure death of the grandmother. It does not seem rational to not take into account the consequences of people’s actions when considering it’s morality.
Kant says that rationality has a specific purpose. He disagrees with Mill in that its purpose is not happiness. Rationality is used to demonstrate our duties. We use our rationale to be able to decide whether a maxim can be universalized. If the maxim can be universalized, then it is not immoral. Rationale is the only way to figure this out. It allows you to take maxims and see if they fall in with universal law and be a possible duty. Without rationality we cannot determine a specific maxim’s moral worth.