Single Idea 8015

[catalogued under 23. Ethics / B. Contract Ethics / 1. Contractarianism]

Full Idea

Hobbes makes two incompatible demands of the original contract: he wishes it to be the foundation of all shared and common standards and rules; but he also wishes it to be a contract, which needs prior shared and common standards.

Gist of Idea

Hobbes wants a contract to found morality, but shared values are needed to make a contract


comment on Thomas Hobbes (Leviathan [1651], Pt 1) by Alasdair MacIntyre - A Short History of Ethics Ch.10

Book Reference

MacIntyre,Alasdair: 'A Short History of Ethics' [Routledge 1967], p.137

A Reaction

At the very least, the participants in a contract must be committed to keeping it even when it is not convenient. But a common purpose seems to be needed too, which makes the contract itself intrinsically valuable. Similar objections to Kant.