“Without a Social Contract There Would Be No Morality...”

Topics: Social contract, Political philosophy, Thomas Hobbes Pages: 3 (1255 words) Published: January 20, 2013
“Without a social contract there would be no morality...” In this essay I will be debating whether moral motivation is purely existent as a result of a ‘social contract’ through an insight to conflicting philosophers’ hypothesis. The English philosopher Thomas Hobbes supported the idea that a social contract is necessary in order for a moral society to be attainable. Hobbes argued that morality would be non-existent within ‘a state of nature’. This is a society that lives in the absence of a social contract or a superior authority; he then concluded that life of an individual in this society would be “solitary, poor, brutish and short”, inevitably, by having no one to enforce moral behaviour. Hobbes furthered his argument by separating the two ways in which a social contract could come about; this is through either a mutual agreement/desire to co-operate or by force. However, Hobbes predominantly believed that regardless of why someone abides by the contract’s rules, the fundamental motivation is self-interest; this is titled ‘psychological egoism’. Therefore, as we are all naturally corrupt and fundamentally selfish having a contract put in place tames us as opposed to a rule-free society, which he believed would subsequently, disintegrate into chaos. Furthermore, Hobbes believed that co-operation is the best solution as it maximises the self-interest of both parties and this is supposedly guaranteed due to it being in our long-term self-interest, which means that we will benefit from our actions in the future; this is called contractarianism. In order to support Hobbes’ view of human nature, we could use the example of ‘the prisoner’s dilemma’ which can be applied to multiple situations of decision making to demonstrate how it is in our best interest to trust and co-operate; Hobbes’ argument suggests how we can guarantee this because we are all egoists. In addition, ‘The ring of Gyges’ is a subsequently necessary example to support the claim that morality is...
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