Liberalism and Social Contract

Topics: Liberalism, Political philosophy, Social contract Pages: 7 (2735 words) Published: May 11, 2005
Liberalism and Social Contract
Charles Larmore speaks of moral complexity as it exists in a pluralistic sense. The idea of pluralism says that each and every person has their own separate conception of the good as it appears to them. It is I virtually impossible to have to separate entities come up with the same exact concept of the "Good Life" and what it holds for them. As there are these conflicts ideals that exist in each of us it is possible for our conception of the good to come under attack from competing concepts that are held by others around us. Some one who is Muslim may have a conception of the good that wants to eradicate me and my notion of the good. There needs to exist some centralized thought controlled by the state to protect each individual concept of the good that exists under the people it resides over. If pluralism is true and evident in society then there needs to exist a liberal state to have a manner of political order to protect the differing conceptions of the good that exists within it to protect the personal ideals.

The main idea that Larmore is trying to set out between the political order and personal ideals is that the Kant's idea of the right being prior to the good is essential to the protection or cooperation of these two principles. Although this is a theory from Kant it is not a metaphysical like Kant brings up, rather it is a political movement that is necessary for the protection of individual personal ideals. The right of political neutrality must take priority over any individual conception of the good. This justifies political authority as the right of neutrality is more important than the personal good because without any sort of neutrality of the state none of us would be able to keep our own ideals of what the good is and practice it in our lives. This principle of primacy of the right is a political ideal that does not need to extend into all of morality but is necessary in the manner of political order. This primacy is important in the manner that it literally allows for that personal good to exist. For a moment imagine if some one lived in Mooneyville and their conception of the good differs from everyone else around him. It is essential for this mooneyite to give primacy of the right in the political realm so he is able to hold his own conception of the good. If there were no political liberal right of neutrality then he could either be cast out of the society or even forced to change his conception of the good. Larmore brings this to point in the way of his modus vivendi which is useful to have a justice that exists in the state to protect our own conception of the good respectively.

Hume wrote of justice as an "artificial" virtue that we create to make things in life work. Larmore thinks that there is a problem with this idea of an artificial virtue, he argues that "what distinguishes an artificial virtue from a natural one (such as courage) cannot be that it fails to be ‘instinctive,' as Hume wrote," (Larmore, 70-71) this is evident in that every virtue must be learned in some way either by teaching of the intellectual or the habituation of the moral virtues that Hume considers natural. It is important to see what Hume thought of as the "circumstances of justice" that are explained in two groups, the external and the internal that cause conflict based on wants and needs and individual concepts of the good respectively. This conflict creates a need for the virtue of justice to take care of the problems that arise. This encompasses the principle of liberal justice that is necessary for anyone to keep their conception of the good life. This modus vivendi or way of living is a means of accommodation between the political right and the individual concept of the good. It is a sort of pragmatic principle the helps us all get along in this pluralistic setting of any society. This comes of great value to each of us as individuals. This modus...

Bibliography: Davison & Wolf. The iI dea of a Political Liberalism.
Binmore, Ken. Game Theory and the Social Contract, Volume I: Fair Play.
Hampton, Jean. Hobbes and The Social Contract Tradition.
Larmore, Charles. Patterns of Moral Complexity.
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