Current Moral and Social Issues



Midterm Exam


1. Rousseau identifies perfectibility in addition to pity and self-preservation as characteristic of the human condition and integral to the development of social inequality. Perfectibility is described as man’s ability to improve himself and shaped by his environment and accounts for human development.


2. Passion is one type of reason that is missing from the original human constitution and according to Rousseau need is what stimulates passion in mankind and causes man to act and develop. Language is also absent in the original human constitution because it stimulates abstract thought which is a central part of reasoning.


3. The time period consisted of one-man tasks and the activity of amour propre (awareness of oneself in relation to others) and the moment one man need another man’s help was when inequality was formed. The creation of metallurgy and agriculture formed divisions within mankind and inequality was formed on the basis of division of property. The project that was produced from this was the Social Contract, which was based on the Right of Conquest.


4. The new state of nature is one with greater inequality as a product of separation from rich to poor, powerful and weak, and master and slave.


5. All natural rights and laws mean nothing if we don’t understand the nature of man. We need to take reason out of the “equation” and think about the basic concepts of pity and self-preservation.


6. Without the system of needs that dominate his life, or the need to dominate others, modern man would not be receptive to the kind of trick played by the rich. Savage man, who is unconcerned by what others think of him, and has only basic needs, cannot be coerced. Modern man has a life filled with a system of needs, and the need to dominate others. Savage man was unconcerned by what others thought of him and had only basic needs. The “solution” would be a modeled after a medium between modern man and savage man with the understanding of the nature of man


7. The ideas of communitarianism and liberalism are overlapping in some theories of each. Gaus used the idea that “one’s identity is bound up with a group identity”. Many of the rules that govern communitarianism are the same that indivduals use to govern their own life. Many laws are made from the moral rule of human beings which exist from religion which is passed from the environment of the individual. Rawls argues that “our selves tend to be defined or constituted by various communal attachments”. Rawls expresses the idea that many of the ideas individuals attain are similar if not the same as the ideas of the group.


8. Many issues that pertain to moral decisions apply to the ideas that link liberalism and communitarianism. Issues such as abortion or euthanasia may apply to these ideas. People that are strongly influenced by religion lean towards the ideas of religion, such that abortion and euthanasia are wrong, morally. Although our government is based on the freedom of choice, the majority of our rules/laws are based on the shared identities of the group and individual.