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Hobbes Versus Rawles On The Fool

1991 words - 8 pages

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Both Thomas Hobbes and John Rawls propose an idea of a social contract, for society. Hobbes' account gives us the Leviathan, and Rawls gives us his Theory of Justice. For Rawls a social contract is hypothetical, in other words people would agree to it if they were to choose it.1 He creates a thought experiment, to show what people would choose if they were to decide on a social contract. This exists in what he calls the "original position, which is similar to a state of nature.2 The thought experiment then begins with a group of people, behind what he calls a "veil of ignorance". By doing this they do not know their social class, wealth, natural abilities, the distribution of assets in society, or anything else about themselves or the society.3 They must then must decide how society would be set up.4 Since none of them know details about what would benefit them, they will then advocate for a society that abides by Rawls' two principles of justice.5 First there is the liberty principle, which advocates basic liberty for everyone. Second, there is the difference principle favor economic equality, with inequalities that benefit the worst off.6 The veil of ignorance, ideally creates an egalitarian society with equal rights, and inequalities only exist if they redistribute wealth equally.7 Rawls then uses Kantian reasoning to say that since a rational being would choose these principles, these are the principles that should be adopted.8 Unlike the original position of Rawls, the state of nature for Hobbes is violent, and anarchic.9 Man has the right to use his own power, but he can transfer that right and enter into a social contract to escape the state of nature.10 Hobbes also states that making and keeping contracts is justice.11
According to Hobbes, the third law of nature states that, people must keep the contracts they make, and breaking them is unjust. So, as a result making and upholding contracts is justice.12 Hobbes' then gives the response of the fool. The fool believes that, there is no justice, and as a result of that thinks that he should only uphold contracts when they are in his interest.13 Hobbes' theory directly responds to the fool, and Rawls' theory can also be used to counter the fools argument, however they do not counter it equally. The purpose of this essay will be to show how Hobbes' Leviathan does a better job of dealing with the fool's argument than does John Rawls' Theory of Justice.
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While Hobbes agrees it can sometimes be in one's interest not to uphold contracts, he does believe it is not wise to do this. Hobbes' responds saying that the fool is either cast out of society, or has to live within it essentially hiding from the Leviathan.14 If he is cast out of the society, he perishes. The fool essentially takes a high risk, high reward gamble that he will not be caught by the leviathan. He has the potential for a large payoff, but if he is unsuccessful, then his punishment will be huge. ...

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