Social Contract

Chrucky’s paper (yesterday’s blog) covers interesting ground, even if the purpose is a catholic religious / abortion argument about what constitutes a human person. The concept of whether “morals” are something fundamental and whether consciousness and communication shared between “persons” are really part of some social contract, existing at tacit levels to build on more explicit conscious actions. (Duties, agreements, negotiations, Hobbes, body-politic, Searle, weak-AI, capabilities, facilities, and more.)

[Quote] […. distinguish between “Hypothetical” and “Categorical” duties or rules …..] H-duties are those things I must do to survive or to live well. The obvious h-duties that I have are to obey the laws of nature and such overwhelming forces as muggers, tyrants, and the law — on the threat of such things as penalties, injuries, incarceration, or death. C-duties are those actions which I have promised or agreed to do freely — overtly or tacitly. Talk of c-duties is grounded in some kind of an agreement. This is the insight of the social contract theoreticians, such as Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant, and John Rawls. Such an agreement is viewed as a historical fiction, but which is invoked to reveal the logic of c-duties. Talk of c-duties is based on some explicit or implicit set of agreed-to rules. According to the social contract theories, these rules may in fact be imposed through social laws or through indoctrination. Call this their genesis. However, their justification is through a fictitious, historical original free rational agreement. This is to say that h-rules in order to be freely accepted must be grounded in c-rules. And by being so grounded they become extensions of c-rules. Another way of expressing this is to say that there are many rules which appear to be h-rules but are really c-rules. Unless h-rules are agreed to at least implicitly, they have the character of imposed commands and remain merely h-rules. Let me clarify this through some thoughts about pursuing survival and the good life ….. [Unquote]

Very much Maslow / Hertzberg distinctions in motivations, here cast as social “duties”. Need to diagnose his “historical fiction” comment about the social contract idea – seems to me he’s making the same point that the distinction between survival pursuits and the good life is set at some (tacit) level defined by (or rationalised using) previous explicit negotiated agreements. Same thread as Pirsig and Foucault about the relationships between “moral” levels being pretty fundamental. As soon as you have a human social intent view of meaning and knowledge, the moral base level “human survival” seems a similarly fundamental basis for the knowledge model.

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