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Spokane Community College Locke on Natural Law Question

you just need to read the file and answer the first part question. the seconf part is to expain.

Discussion Questions

  • What are the two ‘natural states’ of people? (1a)
  • What is Locke’s reason for believing that people are equal? (1a-b)
  • Which of the four conceptions of morality (approval, power, justice, prudence) is most relevant here? Why?
  • Why is one of those states of nature a boundary on the other one? (1a)
  • What is the natural, moral law? (1b)
  • What is the problem with breaking (he calls it ‘transgressing’) this moral law? (2a)

Locke on Natural Law

  1. The only significant moral distinction that exists is between Creator and created.
  2. God is the Creator, and all humans are created.
  3. Therefore while all humans are subordinate to God, all humans are equal to each other.
  4. Therefore the state of nature is a state of equality.
  5. Any act of violence or harm or theft is a declaration that “I am superior to you.”
  6. The declaration, “I am superior to you” is false, since we have been created as moral equals
  7. Therefore the Law of Nature: “No one ought to harm another….in his life, health, liberty or possessions”
  8. The state of nature is also a state of freedom to order our actions and dispose of our possessions and persons as we see fit.
  9. But freedom must always be “bounded by” the Law of Nature.
  10. Therefore the state of nature is a state of perfect freedom limited by the Law of Nature.

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On the previous page, I mentioned my belief that the most fundamental moral question is, “What is the goal of moral judgments?”, since this is the best way to classify moral theories. There are four distinct answers to that question, and each answer will identify a family of moral theories. The various members of the family will disagree, but they will have the same general answer to the question, “What is the goal of moral judgments?” Remember, there are 10 moral theories we will discuss in this course.

1) Morality and Approval

A very popular idea is that morality is simply a matter of what is approved of or forbidden by some person or group. Thus, the goal of moral judgments is simply to express moral approval (or disapproval), and so in a word, morality is about approval.

Who gives this approval? Some people say it is their culture, in which case, you are a cultural relativist. You also might think it is God, in which case you believe in divine command theory. For these two theories, ethical reasoning (i.e., attempting to justify a moral judgment) is unnecessary, because moral judgments simply come from an authoritative source and are blindly obeyed.

Some people don’t like putting authority into morality, but they do like the idea that moral judgments are matters of approval. And so another theory is that the approval comes from myself; when I make moral judgments, I am simply trying to state my own personal ideas of right and wrong based on my own personal tastes. The best word for this theory is ‘subjectivism,’ or technically, since there are several uses of that word, ‘ethical subjectivism.’ The subjectivist believes that ethical reasoning is merely a kind of introspection or reflection on your own personal view of the world; therefore, ethical reasoning is not very interesting. Moral judgments are basically like any statements of preference or taste, such as “Pizza is delicious,” or “Sunsets are lovely.” In that case moral judgments, like judgments of taste, cannot be objectively true or false – at best, they could be subjectively true or false. So the first three theories that believe that morality is about approval are:

  • (1) Divine Command Theory
  • (2) Cultural Relativism
  • (3) (Ethical) Subjectivism

2) Morality and Power

Some believe, instead, that the goal of moral judgments is an attempt to get or preserve control over other people. This is an extremely cynical view of morality. On this interpretation, morality still originates from some authority as it does in cultural relativism or divine command theory, but in those two systems, the authority is a benevolent one, specifying right and wrong actions in order to improve the lives of those who obey. But in the present theory, the authority is intentionally using morality as a way to manipulate others. So we might say that on this belief, morality is about power. Therefore, ethical reasoning is a mistake – it is only for weak-minded people who do not understand that moral judgments were invented as a way to control and manipulate others. These two moral theories don’t have specific names, so here are generic titles:

  • (4) Morality is an invention by the strong
  • (5) Morality is an invention by the weak

3) Morality and Prudence

Some believe that the goal of moral judgments is to promote or maintain my own well-being. On this interpretation, morality is about prudence. Therefore, ethical reasoning will focus on how the action benefits me. There are distinct versions that disagree about whether to focus on external well-being (i.e., security) or internal well-being (i.e., character), so there are two moral theories in this family:

  • (6) Contractarianism
  • (7) Virtue Ethics

4) Morality and Justice

Some believe that the goal of moral judgments is to promote or maintain the well-being of others. On this interpretation, morality is about justice. Therefore, ethical reasoning will focus on what other people deserve based on what constitutes their well-being. Western philosophy has come up with three different ideas about what gives other people moral value, and therefore there are three moral theories:

  • (8) Divine Creation Theory
  • (9) Utilitarianism
  • (10) Deontology

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