The social contract aqa phil1 notes morality

Just some typed up notes on unit 1 aqa philosophy on morality: the social contract bit. If these help anyone, i might upload the rest of the unit 1 morality notes.

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Mr Wilson Notes
EXPLAIN: In some ways, being moral is in my self interest and I will benefit from being moral and
acting morally. We can develop this by saying morality is an agreement about how to behave
because we have realised that behaving in a certain way is in our self interest. Morality in this way is
seen as a means to an end.
RATIONAL EGOISM: We can see that it is in our self interest that other people don't harm us when
pursuing their self interest, but , it also isn't such a good thing if we are constrained ourselves.
Therefore we agree not to harm others so they won't harm us, My self interest may suffer a little,
however the benefit to us is greater than the loss
ILLUSTRATE: Calicles ethical egoism and agreements of men
The figure of calicles say that we should avoid being moral whenever we can
His answer to the question `why should i be moral' is ` I should not be moral'
I should be as immoral as I need to be in search of what's good for myself
This is known as egoism ­ the view that I should always do what will promote my own
greatest good
Calicles position implies that the only reason I behave morally is in order to avoid the criticisms of
If I can get away with it, I would and should behave in a way which will bring maximum benefit to
myself. For example, if I can get rich by stealing peoples wallets without anyone knowing, why should
I stop?
Argument for
1. It is a simple and obvious answer to what makes me moral ­ individuals are clearly motivated
by self interest
2. Hobbes state of nature ­ `The life of a man would be solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and
short'. Because life would be so dangerous and scary, people would benefit from the social
3. The agreement must be and is fair ­ otherwise people wouldn't co operate
Arguments against
1. The argument assumes we know that self interest is independent of morality but do we
really? Suppose you say your self interest is being happy but sometimes being happy is not
good for you e.g. continually smoking to achieve happiness
2. The social contract shows that the only reason were moral is because it's in our self interest
but the prisoners dilemma shows if everyone acts on their self interest, they end up in a
worse position

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Barry confesses Barry doesn't confess
Adam confesses Both get 7 years Adam free, barry 10 years
Adam doesn't confess Adam Gets 10 years, Barry Both get 2 years
Two men, Adam and Barry are arrested for a crime and held in separate rooms. Adam is told `if you
confess your sentence will be reduced because you helped the prosecution, In fact, if you confess
you can go free and Barry will serve 10 years in prison'. Barry got told the same thing.…read more


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