Phil e166 ethical theory
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PHIL E166 Ethical Theory. Week Two: Hobbes on Materialism, Secularism and Morality. The Five Threats. The Threat The Christian Response Materialism , naturalismDualism, supernaturalism Atheism Voluntarism or intellectualism

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PHIL E166 Ethical Theory

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Phil e166 ethical theory

PHIL E166 Ethical Theory

Week Two: Hobbes on Materialism, Secularism and Morality


The five threats

The Five Threats

  • The ThreatThe Christian Response

  • Materialism, naturalismDualism, supernaturalism

  • AtheismVoluntarism orintellectualism

  • EgoismExistence of morality andaltruism, with God’s help

  • RelativismMoral objectivity

  • DeterminismLibertarianism


The perceived threat from hobbes and hobbes s true position

The Perceived Threat from Hobbes, and Hobbes’s True Position

  • Perceived Hobbesian ThreatThe Christian ResponseHobbes’ True Position

  • Materialism, naturalismDualism, supernaturalismUnorthodox Christianity

  • AtheismVoluntarism orSecular Moralism

  • intellectualism

  • EgoismExistence of morality andCompatibility of egoism

  • altruism, with God’s helpand morality

  • RelativismMoral objectivityDistinction between

  • natural law & civil law

  • DeterminismLibertarianismMetaphysical compatibilism


Hobbes on religious beings

Hobbes on Religious Beings

  • : “From this ignorance of how to distinguish dreams, and other strong fancies, from vision and sense, did arise the greatest part of the religion of the Gentiles in time past, that worshipped satyrs, fauns, nymphs, and the like….” (Leviathan, ch. 2, p. 92.)


Hobbes on the origin of the idea of souls

Hobbes on the Origin of the Idea of Souls

  • “And for the matter, or substance, of the invisible agents, so fancied, they could not by natural cogitation fall upon any other concept but that it was the same with that of the soul of man; and that the soul of man was of the same substance with that which appeareth in a dream to one that sleepeth; or in a looking-glass to one that is awake; which, men not knowing that such apparitions are nothing else but creatures of the fancy, think to be real and external substances….” (Leviathan, ch. 12, p. 170.)


Hobbes on the misuse of language

Hobbes on the Misuse of Language

  • Errors are aided by the misuse of language, as “when men make a name of two names, whose significations are contradictory and inconsistent; as this name, an incorporeal body, or, which is all one, an incorporeal substance, and a great number more.” (Leviathan, ch. 4, p. 108.)


The knowledge argument for distinguishing moral from physical properties

The Knowledge Argument for Distinguishing Moral from Physical Properties

  • One might know everything physical about jealousy (for example) but not know everything (for instance, its moral character), due (say) to a moral blindness.

  • Thus, the argument goes, moral properties, if there are any, are distinct from physical properties.


Cudworth on materialism and atheism

Cudworth on Materialism and Atheism

  • “Now if there be no middle betwixt atheism and theism, and all things must of necessity either spring from senseless matter, or else from a perfect understanding Being; then is this demonstration of the impossibility of atheism a sufficient establishment of the truth of theism.” (True Intellectual System, p. 121.)


Rawls on the role of materialism in hobbes s moral theory

Rawls on the Role of Materialism in Hobbes’s Moral Theory

  • “I don’t believe that this had any significant influence on the content…,” he said in his first lecture on Hobbes (LHPP, pp. 29-30). “Hobbes’s psychology derived mainly from common sense observation, and from his reading of the classics, Thucydides, Aristotle and Plato. His political thought, that is, his conception of human nature, was probably formed there. It doesn’t show any signs of actually having been thought out and derived on the basis of mechanical principles of materialism, the so-called method of science. Although occasionally it is mentioned, it did not actually affect his account of human nature and the passions, and the like, that motivate it.”


Rawls concession

Rawls’ Concession

  • “Hobbes’s materialism, and the idea of there being a mechanical principle that explains causation, gave him greater confidence in the social contract as an analytic method. He may have felt that the two went together.”


Hobbes on materialism and method in de cive

Hobbes on Materialism and Method in De Cive

  • “Concerning my Method,” Hobbes writes, “I thought it not sufficient to use a plain and evident style in what I had to deliver, except I took my begining from the very matter of civill government, and thence proceeded to its generation, and form, and the first beginning of justice; for everything is best understood by its constitutive causes; for as in a watch, or some such small engine, the matter, figure, and motion of the wheeles, cannot well be known, except it be taken in sunder, and viewed in parts; so to make a more curious search into the rights of States, and duties of Subjects, it is necessary, (I say not to take them in sunder, but yet that) they be so considered, as if they were dissolved, (i.e.) that wee rightly understand what the quality of humane nature is, in what matters it is, in what not fit to make up a civill government, and how men must be agreed among themselves, that intend to grow up into a well-grounded State.”


Cudworth s misquotation of hobbes

Cudworth’s Misquotation of Hobbes

  • “The attributes of God signify not true nor false, nor any opinion of our brain, but the reverence and devotion of our hearts; and therefore they are not sufficient premises to infer truth, or convince falsehood.” (TIS, p. 125.)


What hobbes really wrote

What Hobbes Really Wrote

  • What Hobbes in fact writes is that “so far … as their significations [are not] conceivable” arguments “derived from the attributes of God” signify “neither true nor false…” (Questions Concerning Liberty, Necessity and Chance, p. 6.)


Cudworth accuses hobbes of atheism

Cudworth Accuses Hobbes of Atheism

  • On the basis of this attribution, Cudworth accuses Hobbes of inferring atheism from the belief “That we have no idea of God, and therefore can have no evidence of him; which argument is further flourished and descanted upon in this manner. That notion or conception of a Deity, that is commonly entertained, is nothing but a bundle of incomprehensibles, unconceivables, and impossibles….” (TIS, p. 125.)


Hobbes we invent invisible agents as objects of our fears

Hobbes: We Invent “Invisible Agents” as Objects of Our Fears

  • “But the acknowledging of one God eternal, infinite, and omnipotent may more easily be derived from the desire men have to know the causes of natural bodies, and their several virtues and operations, than from the fear of what was to befall them in time to come. For he that, from any effect he seeth come to pass, should reason to the next and immediate cause thereof, and from thence to the cause of that cause, and plunge himself profoundly in the pursuit of causes, shall at last come to this, that there must be (as even the heathen philosophers confessed) one First Mover; that is, a first and an eternal cause of all things; which is that which men mean by the name of God.” (Leviathan, ch. 12, p. 170.)


Cudworth s comparison of hobbes to epicurus

Cudworth’s Comparison of Hobbes to Epicurus

  • “As Epicurus, so other Atheists, in like manner, have commonly had their vizards and disguises; Atheism, for the most part, prudently choosing to walk abroad in masquerade. And, though some over-credulous persons have been so far imposed upon hereby, as to conclude, that there was hardly any such thing as an Atheist anywhere in the world, yet they that are sagacious may easily look through these thin veils and disguises, and perceive these Atheists oftentimes insinuating their Atheism even then, when they most of all profess themselves Theists, by affirming, that it is impossible to have any idea or conception at all of God: and that, as he is not finite, so he cannot be infinite, and that no knowledge or understanding is to be attributed to him; which is, in effect, to say, that there is no such thing.” (TIS, p. 122.)


The merriam webster definition of secularism

The Merriam Webster Definition of “Secularism”

  • “indifference to or rejection or exclusion of religion and religious considerations.”


Hobbes on equality among persons

Hobbes on Equality among Persons

  • “strength enough to kill the strongest, either by secret machination or by confederacy with others that are in the same danger with himself.” (Leviathan, ch. 13, p. 183; also see Rawls, pp. 42-3.)


Hobbes on equality among our faculties of mind

Hobbes on Equality among Our Faculties of Mind

  • “aside the arts grounded upon words, and especially that skill of proceeding upon general and infallible rules, called science, which very few have and but in few things, as being not a native faculty born with us, nor attained, as prudence, while we look after somewhat else.”


Hobbes on power

Hobbes on “Power”

  • As Rawls points out (on p. 43, citing Leviathan,ch. 10, p. 150), “attaining our Ends” is what Hobbes means by his use of the word “power” – “Hobbes has a tendency … to reduce all these desires [for riches, glory, honor, knowledge, and so on] … to one: namely, the desire for ‘power after power,’ where ‘power’ in this case stands for the means for attaining our good or the object of our desires.”


Hobbes on the origin of diffidence

Hobbes on the Origin of Diffidence

  • “if any two men desire the same thing, which nevertheless they cannot both enjoy, they become enemies; and in the way to their end (which is principally their own conservation, and sometimes their delectation [def. enjoyment] only) endeavor to destroy or subdue one another.”


Diffidence leads to a state of war

Diffidence Leads to a State of War

  • “there is no way for any man to secure himself so reasonable as anticipation; that is, by force, or wiles, to master the persons of all men he can so long till he see no other power great enough to endanger him: and this is no more than his own conservation requireth, and is generally allowed.” (Leviathan, ch. 13, p. 184; also see Rawls’s discussion at pp. 49.)


Rawls on self centeredness in hobbes

Rawls on Self-Centeredness in Hobbes

  • At LHPP, pp. 45-46: that “when people deliberate about basic political and social matters, they tend to give priority in their thought and action to their own preservation and security, to that of their families, and, to use his phrase again, “to ‘the means of a commodious life.’”


State of war vs state of conflict

State of War vs. State of Conflict

  • “For war consisteth not in battle only, or the act of fighting, but in a tract of time, wherein the will to contend by battle is sufficiently known: and therefore the notion of time is to be considered in the nature of war, as it is in the nature of weather. For as the nature of foul weather lieth not in a shower or two of rain, but in an inclination thereto of many days together: so the nature of war consisteth not in actual fighting, but in the known disposition thereto during all the time there is no assurance to the contrary.” (Leviathan, ch. 13, p. 185-6.)


The fundamental law of nature

The Fundamental Law of Nature

  • “that every man ought to endeavour peace, as far as he has hope of obtaining it; and when he cannot obtain it, that he may seek and use all helps and advantages of war.” (Leviathan, ch. 14, p. 190.)


The second law

The Second Law

  • The second law, derived from the first, is this: “that a man be willing, when others are so too, as far forth as for peace and defense of himself he shall think it necessary, to lay down this right to all things; and be contented with so much liberty against other men as he would allow other men against himself.”


The golden rule

The Golden Rule

  • At Matthew 7:12, Jesus says, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.”

  • And at Luke 6: 31, Jesus is recorded as saying, “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.”


The golden rule vs the second law

The Golden Rule vs. the Second Law

  • At Matthew 7:12, Jesus says, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.”

  • And at Luke 6: 31, Jesus is recorded as saying, “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.”

  • The Second Law: “that a man be willing, when others are so too, as far forth as for peace and defense of himself he shall think it necessary, to lay down this right to all things; and be contented with so much liberty against other men as he would allow other men against himself.”


Dictates of reason vs laws of reason

Dictates of Reason vs. Laws of Reason

  • “These dictates of reason men used to call by the name of laws, but improperly: for they are but conclusions or theorems concerning what conduceth to the conservation and defence of themselves; whereas law, properly, is the word of him that by right hath command over others. But yet if we consider the same theorems as delivered in the word of God that by right commandeth all things, then are they properly called laws.”


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