KEY TERMS

 

What does Rousseau mean by justice?

 

by right?

 

by utility?

 

by convention?

 

by natural liberty vs. civil liberty?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BIG ISSUES

 

Compare Rousseau to Hobbes and to Locke, on each of the following issues:

 

Are there genuine moral constraints?  Does might make right?

 

What is the nature of paternal power?:

 

Are promises made from fear of death morally binding?  Are promises to a thief or pirate (brigand) binding?

 

Do slaves have a duty of obedience to their masters?

 

Can an absolute monarch be legitimate?

 

Are there ownership rights in the State of Nature?

 

Is there equality in the state of nature?

 

Are there any inalienable rights?

 

Does Rousseau advocate freedom of expression?

 

What about freedom of religion?


The State of Nature

 

Are there any moral constraints in the State of Nature?

 

Are there any rights in the State of Nature?

 

Is the State of Nature necessarily a state of war?

 

How do individuals escape the state of nature and become a people?

 

Is express consent necessary or is tacit consent enough?

 

What are the benefits of civil society?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Original Pact

 

What problem is the Original Pact a solution to?

 

How does the Original Pact solve that problem?

 

What are the terms of the Original Pact?

 

Must the terms of the Original Pact be agreed to explicitly?

 

Do the members of a body politic retain any of their State of Nature rights?

 

Who is the Sovereign;?

 

Explain the distinction between State/Sovereign/Power and People/Citizens/Subjects?

 

What is the difference between the Sovereign and the government?

Is government established by contract? 

 

What is the sole end of the State?

 

Are there any moral or legal constraints on the Sovereign?

 

What does Rousseau think of representative democracy?

 

 

 

 

What is the General Will?

 

The Goal:  The common good.

 

Laws are general conventions; magistrates apply them to particular cases.  The general will is one in which all interests agree, because all are benefited.  No subject is burdened more than any other.

 

What the General Will is not:

 

        (1) It is not defined by the Utilitarian Formula (Maximize Total or Average Well-Being)

        The common good promotes the good of every member.  Maximizing an average or total can involve sacrificing the good of some for the greater good of others.

 

        (2) It is not defined by any voting rule, not majority rule, not any supermajority rule, not even unanimity.  Distinction between the will of all and the general will.

 

        Condorcet's voting paradox as an example of the problem of defining the general will with any voting rule. 

 

Each votes on behalf of all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How is the General Will determined?

 

Can the General Will err?

 

What should be done when a particular private will conflicts with the General Will?  Why is coercion of private wills permissible?

 

What is freedom?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rousseau on Legitimate Government

 

        The Key Idea:  All governments constrain by force.  Only legitimate governments constrain by right (i.e., are supported by a duty to obey). 

 

        Only a government that expresses the General Will is legitimate.

 

        Therefore, the terms of the Original Agreement are largely irrelevant to determining government legitimacy.  Any agreement not to be governed by the General Will would not create a duty of the citizens to obey the government.  Such a government would be based only on force.

 

        Why is sovereignty inalienable?

 

        Why is sovereignty indivisible?

 

What is the best form of government?

 

The problem of conflicts between private will, corporate will, and general will.

 

What happens when a government becomes illegitimate—that is, when government power is used for private purposes?