Tuesday, February 4, 2014

quick notes for today's class

1- a distinction between de facto and morally legitimate authority. as we know, Hobbes insists that any entity capable of performing the function of de facto authority is necessarily justified and deserves the obedience of the de facto subjects.

de facto authority, on anyone's account, is distinct from political power. the latter is concerned with the state's or any agent's ability to get others to act in ways that they desire even when the subject does not want to do what the agent wants him to do.

political power does not require any kind of pro attitude toward the agent on the part of the subject, nor does it require that the state is actually successful at securing public order. It operates completely in the realm of threats and offers.

2-  the idea of liberty present in Bentham's account is what is now generally referred to as negative liberty—freedom from external restraint or compulsion. "[l]iberty is the absence of restraint" and so, to the extent that one is not hindered by others, one has liberty and is free. Bentham denies that liberty is "natural" (in the sense of existing prior to social life and thereby imposing limits on the state) or that there is an a priori sphere of liberty in which the individual is sovereign.

3- we need to make a couple of points regarding Hegel's notion of contract. let's point first to a distinction between besonderer wille (any particular will) and Wilkür (arbitrary choice).

a contract (Vertrag) is the acquisition of something that is already no longer devoid of rights. it involves the will of another against me, i.e., the will withdraws from it on the assumption that it will pass over my ownership.

Hegel explores the idea of the state as if given by God:

"...es ist der Gang Gottes in der Welt, sein Grund ist die Gewalt der sich als Wille verwirklichenden Vernunft." (i.e., "the State is the power to materialize will as reason").

It's the sate that provides the reality of objectives realized in complete freedom.

Hegel considers the state as providing legal basis and also the conditions of possibility of the law.  He puts it this way:
Recht und Staat stehen dabei in einem doppelten Verhältnis: einerseits stellt das Recht die Grundlage des Staates dar, andererseits kann das Recht erst im Staat zu einer Realität werden und so ein Wandel von bloßer Moralität zur Sittlichkeit stattfinden.
the words matter here, the difference between Sittlichkeit (for Hegel, a sphere of rights, the state of "ethical life") & bloßer Moralitat (mere morality).