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13. Appropriating Locke Today

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Published on Apr 5, 2011

Moral Foundations of Politics (PLSC 118)

The final Enlightenment tradition left to be explored in this course is social contract theory, for which we must return to Locke and somehow secularize his views and reconcile them with the refutation of natural rights. Modern social contract theorists replace natural rights with Kant's categorical imperatives, and accept the Aristotelian notion that there is no such thing as pre-political man. They approach the social contract as a hypothetical thought experiment, asking, if there were no state, what kind of state, if any, would people like you and I create? The first modern social contract theorist Professor Shapiro introduces is Robert Nozick, whose theory derives from the voluntary entry of individuals into mutual protective associations in the absence of a state. But he also makes two important points about force: (1) for coercive force to be a good, it has to be exercised as a monopoly, and (2) there's no other natural monopoly. Therefore, a dominant protective association will come out on top and resemble the state. But one problem remains: the incorporation of independents into this state.

00:00 - Chapter 1. The Social Contract Tradition: Robert Nozick (1938 -- 2002)
22:58 - Chapter 2. Kant, Nozick and the Conception of Individual Liberty
32:53 - Chapter 3. Evolution of the State without Rights Violations

Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website: http://open.yale.edu/courses

This course was recorded in Spring 2010.

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