[hist-analytic] McPherson on Hobbes: status/simple market/possessive market
Baynesr at comcast.net
Baynesr at comcast.net
Tue Feb 16 09:55:54 EST 2010
My first impression was that Hobbes offers very little to the
analytical philosopher. But I think now that this was mistaken.
Whereas Rawls moves to assert the primacy of the political
over the moral ("comprehensive views"), Hobbes seeks,
as MacPherson points out, a reduction of obligation to
purely material principles related to the "possessive
individualism" in the "possessive market place."
What I will show is that having linked Rousseau and
Rawls I can also show that Hobbes belongs in this
group rather than those who adopt a more Lockean
Much will depend on how we understand the idea of
freedom. There is a seamless connection between
Hobbes on Man and Hobbes on the Commonwealth.
Rawls tries the same thing, but his success is doubtful.
Rawls loses sight of the individual, whereas Hobbes who
would probably be somewhat sympathetic to Rawls
Everything depends on the nature of reciprocity which
has not been sufficiently examined by past scholars.
Once this is done we see much more clearly.
Now ESSENTIAL to this, I think, is coming to grips
with D. Lewis's treatment of Grice in his work on
convention. I am deferring that until I get clearer on
freedom among contractarians . Then back to Grice !
What Rawls doens't capture is the relation of individuals
in a market economy (of any of the sorts discussed)
to contract. Understandablyt since his "methodological
avoidance" of "comprehensive views" leads him down
----- Original Message -----
From: Jlsperanza @ aol .com
To: hist-analytic@ simplelists .co. uk
Sent: Sunday, February 14, 2010 4:17:56 PM GMT -08:00 US/Canada Pacific
Subject: McPherson on Hobbes: status/simple market/possessive market
In a message dated 2/14/2010 6:48:23 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
Baynesr @comcast.net writes:
"What characterizes all of them are
certain market conditions. They are The Status Society,
the Simple Market Society and the the Possessive Market
These are very good. As you say _anything_ that analyses or cares to
analyse what was meant by Hobbes by his state of 'nature' is welcome!
--- A good point about the 'myth' , other than the Cassirer thing you quote
(I like Cassirer ) is the idea of
Wonder if McPherson talks about it, or considers that the passage from
those three sub-varieties onto 'the state we're in' is viewed as
I tried to track down the use of 'evolutionary' in Grice , but failed (to
what extent, for example, the conventional, arbitrary, system of signs we
call 'language' we have is an evolution over pooh-pooh).
If McPherson is abstracting, and thinking as you say that this is
counter-factual, etc he must be keeping at leas the _desires_ as fixed. No
evolution there. So he may need a 'change' of conditions, environment, or
whatever, to 'justify' or at least 'explain' the change from one status to the
other (or state to the other). This would be, as you say, 'de facto' . (If you
say that). Rather than 'de iure' .
At this point, he (or your reading of him) may want to consider whether
that is not a bit 'rough' , or too rough. We may claim that our desires have
NOT changed, but the point for a philosopher to (at least) conceive is
whether they should NOT have changed. It is when we find Hobbes's views as
_explanatory_ rather than descriptive that we start caring for him as a
'philosopher' . For an account of how the transition from one state to the other
is achieved along empirical lines we go to palaeontology, archaeology,
history, prehistory, sociology, biosociology , ethology, even economics. For a
philosophical _theory_ or as I prefer 'analysis' , we go to philosophers: we go
to Hobbes. (We may NOT go to McPherson if you'll tell me he only taught,
say, Ethology at ... -- just joking!)
(So perhaps you can provide briefly, in terms of agents's desires, in
what ways those three substates consist and diverge. And what main
'transmutation' is effected in the State 2 -- with the previous ones as State 1,
State 1' and State 1".).
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