Tuesday, August 09, 2011
Good Youtube lecture on flaws of social constrct theory
J.S. Mill: major exponent of
social contract theory: Utilitarianism
On my message boards someone clued me in to this excellent lecture. It's an youtube lecture on flaws of social contract theory of ethics. The person who told me about it said that the guy talks like I do. I wish I was as clear, coherent, well ordered as this guy. I wish I was insightful and cogent. He was use a lot of my terminology, so apparently he's probalby been educated in a liberal seminary. Social contract theory is one of three major types of ethics toward which atheists tend to gravitate. Not to say that social contract is automatically "atheist" but it was developed in the enlightenment as an alternative to Christian based ethics, a secular alternative.
Social contract theory assumes that ethics is a mutual packed among members of society and is designed to offer maximal survive value for the greatest number, without any messy connections to the "great beyond" or "here after." It's just a naturalistic and supposedly logical way to have an ethical belief system without references to God or over arching ideas or anything transcendent. There are many kinds of social contract theory. Utilitarianism is one such kind, the greatest good for the greatest number.
Atheists tend toward three kinds of ethical theory:
(1) feeling based
I don't wish to harm people, I feel better than that. That's for people with bad feelings, I have good feelings.
(2) Genetically based
The founding assumption here is that survival is the basic point of ethics, everyone has to get along and maximize gene frequency. So that means certain behaviors that are genetic and we do because they are part of our genetic endowment are the roots basis of ethics. After that social contract theory is the only rational chosen part of ethics.
(3) Social Contract
We make a compact between members of a society that will be mutually beneficial and maximize survival so we don't' go around bashing each others heads in.
there are problems with these three:
(1) feelings can conflict, between people and within the same person. How do we sort out completing feelings? What is the basis of feelings.
(2) Just being an evolutionary behavior does not make something ethical. When we take the moral thinking out of ethics it's no longer ethics.
(3) There are many problems with social contract theory, not the least of which is a society can maximize survival for the greatest number at the expense of the individual or a minority.
listen to the lecture on the youtube linke above to hear a really good, clear, though understanding of the problems.