[hist-analytic] State of Nature: Methodological? Abstraction? Counter-Factual?

Jlsperanza at aol.com Jlsperanza at aol.com
Sat Feb 13 16:23:38 EST 2010

In a message dated 2/13/2010 3:51:19  P.M. Eastern Standard Time,  
Baynesr at comcast.net writes:
"Thus in the  Rudiments the state of war  is hypothetical 
condition, got by a purely  logical abstraction." (p.  28)


Thanks for the further quote from  McPherson.

That's an interesting thought!

I would be interested to  learn more about the different approaches  here.

I always divided  the approaches into

-- genetic: those who believe the state of nature did  exist.

----- methodological: those who use it as a methodological device.  Rawls,  
"veil of ignorance".

It's all pretty confusing, I  know.

But I _am_ interested.

--- I am particularly inclined to  regard those allusions as 'mythical'. A  
'myth' may have 'educational'  value, though (My recent invigorated 
sympathies  for 'myth' derive from  Wharton's book on pragmatics -- new 
with CUP which 
concludes with what he  calls Grice's 'myth' about the origin of language.

[Grice's  myth: in the origin there was 'nature'. Only  signs naturally  
signifying this or that. In the state of our civilised states,  it's  all 
artificial, etc.]

---- I'm slightly confused by talk of  'counterfactual' -- in terms of  
possible-world semantics. It seems to  me that a true counterfactual, I 
mean a  
genuine counterfactual (a  subjunctive, or past subjunctive) conditional 
need to postulate  something different from a mere reference to the _past_. 
I  don't think  the past is a different world, as we may say an irreal 
is a   different world. Hartey used to say that the past is "a foreign 
country"  but  that's different and just metaphorical).

---- I do like  McPherson's idea that in Hobbes's counterfactual, it is not 
men as  having desires they might have had then back in the state of 
but as  having desires as they have NOW, in this world, at this  time.


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