27 February 2014
PHI 112 Ethics
Social Contract Theory and Utilitarian Moral Theory on Same-Sex Marriage
The two main aims of ethics are to explain and understand, and guide behavior or actions. These are connected because one must look at each different moral issues and evaluate it based on different moral theories in order to understand how we ‘ought to live’ or behave in certain situations. Following the theoretical evaluation, one must be able to put their understanding into action. If there is an idea of how we ought to live that looks effective on paper but cannot be put into practice in our society, then it must be thrown out.
Social contract theory is the view that any persons’ moral obligations depend on a “contract” they “sign” when they form or become a part of a society. Although Socrates had ideas similar to that of social contract theory; Thomas Hobbes created what we view as the modern social contract theory, which is best explained in two parts. The first part states that humans are exclusively self-interested, and they will always be looking out for themselves before others. The second part needs a little set up: the State of Nature. The State of Nature is a hypothetical state where all human beings would find themselves alone, fending for themselves and in a constant state of war with every other human they come into contact with. The State of Nature is the worst possible situation to find oneself in and life could not be sustained here for very long.
In order to avoid living in the State of Nature and simultaneously doing what benefits oneself the most, one must enter into a social contract with others. Whether it is a small group or an entire country, when a group of rational people come together and agrees upon rules that benefit each individual the most- the entire group benefits. The interesting part of social contract theory on morality is that nothing in innately immoral, anything goes as long as all rational members of society...