Innate Orietnations

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Julia Holmes
CAL 105
Political Philosophers Essay

Innate Orientations

Political philosophers touch on various subjects as human behavior, society and ethics and have various opinions on these subjects, some of which I agree with, some of which I disagree with. People are born with free will and in general act for the greater good of society, whether they realize it or not, and strive for an environment free of conflict. Since the beginning of modern human history we have created a society based on contributions from numerous social groups. Society is a summation of education, culture and traditions that are developed in a self-identified group of people. Moral philosophy and ethics permeate humankind and its developments and interactions. Of all of the philosophers that we have read, my views are most shared by John Locke.

The general population tries to avoid situations that cause distress and havoc. A typical human would rather live in a state without conflict; people who prefer to live in a state of conflict are considered dysfunctional. We can see an example of this in the media, specifically on reality TV shows. Programs like Jersey Shore and Bad Girls Club projects the behavior of people who prefer to live in a state of conflict. The general population looks down on the people on these shows because there is an unwritten social standard of cooperation among people who are being contradicted. Therefore, people are, for the most part, naturally good and desire to work together to create a happier environment.

As an empiricist, Locke believed in the innate goodness of human beings, born with a mind he called "tabula rasa" or a clean slate. He says everyone is naturally good and free. Nurture is favored over nature. His views are religiously influenced and supported by his study of the bible. In my view, I believe that nature plays a role in the development in our identity but that it is a less important role than the environment in which a person lives. As a person who was adopted in early childhood, I find that my personality was greatly impacted by the environment in which I grew up. Although nature gave me certain and talents and physical characteristics, nurture gave me the direction that my talents developed as well as the values and ethics which make me the person I am today. Thomas Hobbes said that people are always in competition with each other, and only cooperate out of self-preservation. He calls this cooperation the social contract. The social contract is the condition in which people give up some individual liberty in exchange for some common security. Hobbes defines contract as "the mutual transferring of right." In the state of nature, everyone has the right to everything - there are no limits to the right of natural liberty. In other words, I give up my natural right to steal food because others give up their natural freedom to steal mine. In place of the natural right we have created a limited right; in the case above the right of property. Hobbes notes that we do not make these agreements explicitly because we are born into a civil society with laws and conventions (i.e. contracts) already in place. He says people have self-interest but they know that they can’t always act in their self-interest and in the end everyone cooperates on some level so as not to endanger themselves. I believe that people don’t cooperate out of self-preservation; they cooperate out of self-interest. A game of doubles tennis requires cooperation in order to reach their mutual goal (self-interest) to win the match. Adam Smith believes that people act in self-interest but in acting in self-interest, they are acting in the interest of the general people. He writes, “By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it.” Smith is proposing that people don’t necessarily need to cooperate for the benefit of...
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