slide #1 -> this course is: political science 225 - fall 2008 classics of political philosophy i:...
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slide #1 -> this course is: Political Science 225 - Fall 2008 Classics of Political Philosophy I: Plato through Machiavelli Professor: Jan Narveson [Emeritus, U of W Philosophy] Slide 2 Some points about the course: 1. Our selections are classics - BUT 2. We read them as being of perenniel interest - So, I dont pay a lot of attention to the context in which they were written 3. We treat the subject as philosophy - not as an exercise in classical scholarship. So: often I will speak to an interpretation of the text which I will not try to support by extensive references to the literature (I will try to mention alternative possible interpretations...) 4. This is a lecture/discussion course. I do like people to raise objections and questions. note: I am also a talker! Please dont let me steamroller the class! slide #2 Slide 3 Some points about the course (continued): 5. There is a lecture schedule, but it is tentative, not rigid. Keep abreast of things! 6. Your e-mail is a main method of communication. Do look for messages from me, and feel free to reply. 7. I do not have an office in the university, and it is difficult for me to do office hours. E-mail is much the best. I will make appointments as needed. 8. The course WEBSITE is on MY site. If you lose it, just: -> google Jan Narveson - my Home Page will be first -> go to course materials click ps 225 and youre in business ! slide #3 Slide 4 Political Philosophy NOT (exactly) political science We are concerned with general, rather abstract arguments - about normative matters, that is: what ought governments to do? what are right and wrong political actions? How do we decide about such things? etc! For the rest, lets just get started and see... Agenda for the immediate future: Sept. 14 [and maybe 16]: Platos Crito NOW: We discuss Socrates Arguments in the Crito.... -> slide #4 Slide 5 Plato (427-347 B.C.) [author of the dialogue Crito] [scene-setting dialogues: Euthyphro; Apology; Crito; Phaedo] slide # 5 Socrates in the Slammer In the first of those dialogues, Euthyphro, Socrates discusses an important issue, which well encounter later (the bearing of religion on morality) In the second, Apology, he explains to the court why he cannot accept their verdict of guilty (to a charge wed consider spurious), nor their offer of a quiet exile rather than death. In Phaedo, Socrates discusses the immortality of the soul, and at the end there is a moving scene in which he takes the penalty (drinking hemlock, a lethal poison) Crito is the next-last. In this he discusses the question whether it is morally OK for his friends to spirit him away from the prison. Thats where we come in. Slide 6 Plato (427-347 B.C.) [author of the dialogue Crito] slide # 6 Socrates in the Slammer Socrates (469-399 B.C.) [image by an unknown who did not know Socrates] Slide 7 slide # 7 Death of Socrates by Jacques Louis David Slide 8 Socrates Arguments in Crito The Question: what do we owe the state? [-> as a matter of moral obligation] -> Socrates answer (apparently): Everything! - almost?... - either always to obey, or (at least) to accept the penalty - even if its death! [note: I am imputing this answer to him - which is at least plausible. Not everyone agrees that Socrates does hold this.... We dont concern ourselves with that scholarly question.] slide # 8 Slide 9 - Socrates argues in favor of keeping his appointment with the executioner -> Is he right in his reasons for this? - Thats our question. Distinguish: the personal issue from the general issue The personal issue is for Socrates: what will he do? [of course, we know the answer, for the actual historical Socrates] The general issue is for us all: what are we morally required to do in a situation where the law calls on us to do something wed rather not do? Socrates does actually argue for this - he doesnt just assert it. We are to examine these arguments. slide # 9 Slide 10 What are we morally required to do in a situation where the law calls on us to do something wed rather not do? (a) where we can get away with it (b) where we cant (well get punished) - [Question: Is there a difference between (a) and (b)?? -> we are looking for the morally right thing to do - not just what well do... - [But how are those related?? - Thats a very large question....] Socrates case, oddly enough, combines (a) and (b) since hes voluntarily administering his own punishment when he could have just gone off with his friends slide # 10 Slide 11 The issue is: what authority do we attach to the laws and institutions under which we live? [i.e., What do we Owe the State?] Three possibilities: 100%: Do we owe them absolute loyalty? 50% Or some loyalty? 0%: Or none at all? Assumption: being in prison (or dead) is, other things equal, not a good thing! Questions: whats relevant to this more general issue, and what isnt? General answer (and Socrates answer): moral requirements are decisive: only if they permit us to act on other reasons may we do so.... [But of course, then the question is: OK, what are those requirements? - - Thats where we come in. slide # 11 Slide 12 Crito slide # 12 The Argument 1. We must always be Just part of the cost: Reputation - Crito: If you die, not only will I be deprived of a friend the like of whom I shall never find again, but many people will think that I was too cheap to save you. Surely there can be no worse reputation than that! Status of Opinions - not much...! Socrates: Why should we care so much about what the majority think? Reasonable people, to whom one should pay more attention, will believe the truth. C: But the majority can inflict great evils if one is slandered among them. S: Not really. They act haphazardly, and cannot make a man either wise or foolish. Consider, now, dont you think it true that one must not value all opinions, but only those of the wise, ignoring the foolish? C: Well, yes. [Why? presumably because the wise are more likely to be right?] Slide 13 slide # 13 1a. Justice and the Health of the Soul: to be unjust is to have an unhealthy soul..... S: We shouldnt care about reputation especially regardibg important things - such as just and unjust actions, and beautiful and ugly character: -if we dont follow the path of wisdom and disdain the foolish, shall we not - harm and corrupt that part of ourselves that is improved by just actions and destroyed by unjust ones? [that is, the soul] C. Yes, you have a point there. S: And is life worth living for us if it is corrupted? Surely that part of us, whatever it is, is more valuable than the body, is it not? C: It is. S: Well, then, we had better examine whether it would be right for me to try to get out of here when the Athenians have not acquitted me. -> If it is right, of course, I will go with you. But if not, then I must surely stay Lets begin at the beginning: namely, that we must never do wrong willingly - whatever the majority may say. Is that right? C: It is. Slide 14 [Question: Is Socrates right that nothing can possibly be more important than justice? (or more generally, than considerations of moral acceptability) Question: What does he mean by justice? [What do we mean by justice??] Is justice a synonym for supreme good (whatever it is)? Or is it narrower than that? (I think most of us think of it as narrower. So: it is unjust to cheat at cards. But is it unjust not to become a violinist when you could?) Should we be ready to do anything rather than any injustice?? We wont try to answer that one just now! - But as well see, it may be rather important. slide # 14 Slide 15 slide # 15 2. The Non-Injury Principle: Justice says that We must injure no one S: if we are wronged, we must nevertheless inflict no wrong in return - contrary to what the majority seem to think. C: That seems right, yes. S: So if we are injured, it is still not right to inflict an injury in return? After all, injuring is wrongdoing, is it not? C: It is, and we mustnt. [Question: (pursued on the next slide): is injury the same as wrongdoing??] Slide 16 slide # 16 Injury: Do we ever have the right to injure? Injury is infliction of evil. But, there are two senses of evil: (a) evil = morally wrong (b) evil = something undesirable [e.g. pain or death] -- These are not the same! [your dentist inflicts some pain on you; but what he does isnt morally evil (a), but only (b) - undesirable. So, we must distinguish these two questions: (1)Should we do immoral things to criminals? [plausible answer: No! Two wrongs indeed dont make a right. But a wrong and a punishing reaction to it are not two wrongs!] (2) Should we do undesirable things to criminals? [plausible answer: Yes!] (I.e., in one sense, we may injure criminals; in the other, we may not) Slide 17 Socrates: C1 therefore we must not injure the state Question: Do we injure the State by disobeying its laws? --Thats a tricky question, at least.... (a)Suppose we are not injuring any person by disobeying law L (b)Might we nevertheless be injuring the state by disobeying law L? [a further question - which well get to: Regarding (b): If (a) is the case, then would it matter??] [Later: well discuss the claim that disobeying the law is destroying the State...] Meanwhile, back to the text: Socrates will try to show that We are injuring the state in that we break our agreement with it slide # 17 Slide 18 Keeping Agreements S: Then let us move to the next point. When we have made a just agreement with someone, should we fulfill it, or do we get to cheat on it? C: Clearly, we must fulfill it. S: Well, but consider: if we leave here without the permission of the Athenians, are we not injuring people, people whom we should least injure? Would we be sticking to our just agreement, or reneging? C: Gosh, Im not quite sure! [Question: are we injuring people by leaving without permission? Which people? How?] [important further question: does it injure someone to have someone else bre