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  • When we ended last time

  • we were discussing Locke's idea of government by consent

  • and the question arose

  • what are the

  • limits on government

  • that even the

  • the agreement of the majority can't override

  • that was the question we ended with

  • we saw

  • in the case of property rights

  • that on Locke's view

  • a democratically elected government has the right to tax people

  • it has to be taxation with consent

  • because it does involve the taking of people's property

  • for the common good

  • but it doesn't require

  • the consent of the each individual

  • at the time the tax

  • is enacted or collected

  • what it does require

  • is a prior act of consent

  • to join the society

  • to take on the political obligation

  • but once you take on that obligation you agree to be bound by the majority

  • so much for taxation

  • but what, you may ask

  • about

  • the right

  • to life

  • can the government conscript

  • people and send them into battle

  • what about the idea that we own ourselves

  • is the idea of self possession violated

  • if the government

  • can through coercive legislation and enforcement powers say

  • you must go risk your life to fight in Iraq

  • what would Locke say? does the government have the right to do that?

  • yes

  • in fact he says in one thirty nine

  • he says

  • what matters

  • is that the political authority

  • or the military authority

  • not be arbitrary that's what matters

  • he gives a wonderful example he says a

  • a sergeant even a sergeant

  • let alone a general, a sergeant

  • can command a soldier

  • to go right up to the face of a cannon

  • where he is almost sure to die

  • that the sergeant can do

  • the general can condemn the soldier to death for deserting his post or for not obeying

  • even a desperate order

  • but with all their power over life and death

  • what these officers can't do

  • is take a penny

  • of that soldier's money

  • because that has

  • nothing to do with the rightful authority

  • that would be arbitrary

  • and it would be corrupt

  • so consent winds up being very powerful in Locke, not consent of the individual to the

  • particular tax or military order,

  • but consent to join the government and to be bound by the majority in the first place

  • that's the consent that matters

  • and it matters so

  • powerfully

  • the even the limited government created by the fact that we have an unalienable right

  • to life liberty and property

  • even that limited government is only limited in the sense that it has to govern by generally

  • applicable laws, the rule of law, it can't be arbitrary

  • that's Locke.

  • well this raises a question

  • about consent. Why is consent such a

  • powerful moral instrument in

  • creating political authority and the obligation to obey

  • today we begin to investigate the question of consent

  • by looking at a concrete case

  • the case of military conscription.

  • now some people say

  • if we have a fundamental right

  • that arises from

  • the idea that we own ourselves

  • it's a violation of that right

  • for a government

  • to conscript citizens to go fight in wars.

  • others disagree others say that's a legitimate

  • power

  • of government, of democratically elected government anyhow,

  • and that we have an obligation to obey

  • let's take the case

  • the united states fighting a war in Iraq.

  • news accounts tell us

  • that the military

  • is having great difficulty meeting its

  • recruitment targets

  • consider three policies that the

  • US government might undertake

  • to deal with the fact that it's not

  • achieving its recruiting targets

  • solution number one

  • increase the pay and benefits

  • to attract a sufficient number

  • of soldiers,

  • option number two

  • shift to a system of military conscription

  • have a lottery

  • and who's ever numbers

  • are drawn

  • go to fight in Iraq,

  • system number three

  • outsource, hire

  • what traditionally have been called mercenaries

  • people around the world who are qualified,

  • able to do the work, able to fight well

  • and who are willing to do it

  • for the existing wage

  • so let's take a quick

  • poll here

  • how many favor increasing the pay?

  • huge majority.

  • how many favor going to conscription?

  • all right maybe a dozen people in the room

  • favor conscription.

  • what about the outsourcing solution?

  • okay so there maybe

  • about two, three dozen.

  • during the civil war

  • the union

  • used

  • a combination

  • of conscription

  • and the market system

  • to fill the ranks of the military to fight in the civil war

  • it was a system that

  • began with conscription

  • but

  • if you

  • were

  • drafted

  • and didn't want to serve

  • you could hire a substitute take your place

  • and many people did

  • you could pay whatever the market

  • required in order to find a substitute

  • people ran ads in

  • newspapers in the classified ads

  • offering

  • five hundred dollars

  • sometimes a thousand dollars

  • for a substitute who would go fight the civil war

  • in their place

  • in fact

  • it's reported that Andrew Carnegie

  • was drafted

  • and hired a substitute to take his place

  • for an amount

  • that was

  • a little less than the amount to spend for a year on fancy cigars

  • now I want to get your views

  • about this civil war system call it the a hybrid system

  • conscription but with the buyout provision

  • how many think it was a just system how many would defend the civil war system?

  • anybody?

  • one, anybody else?

  • to three

  • four five.

  • how many think it was unjust?

  • most of you don't like the civil war system you think it's

  • unjust, let's hear an objection

  • why don't you like it? what's wrong with it?

  • yes. well by paying

  • three hundred dollars for

  • to be exempt one time around you're really putting a price on valuing human life

  • and we established earlier that's really hard to do so

  • they're trying to accomplish something that really isn't feasible.

  • good, so

  • so paying someone three hundred or five hundred or a thousand dollars

  • you're basically saying that's what their life is worth you. that's what their life is worth

  • it's putting a dollar value on life

  • that's good, and what's your name? Liz.

  • Liz.

  • well who has an answer

  • for Liz

  • you defended the civil war system

  • what do you say?

  • if you don't like the price then

  • you have the freedom to

  • not be sold or for so it's

  • up to you and I don't think it's necessarily putting

  • a specific price on you and if it's

  • done by himself I don't think there's anything that's really morally wrong with that.

  • So the person who takes

  • the five hundred dollars let's say,

  • he's putting

  • his own

  • price on his life

  • on the risk of his life

  • and he should have the freedom to choose to do that. exactly.

  • what's your name? Jason.

  • Jason thank you.

  • now we need to hear from another critic of the civil war system. yes.

  • it's a kind of coercion almost of people who have lower incomes

  • for Carnegie he can

  • totally ignore the draft three hundred dollars is

  • you know irrelevant in terms of his income, but for someone of a lower income they are

  • essentially being coerced

  • to draft to be drafted or

  • I mean it's probably they're not able to find a replacement the

  • tell me your name. Sam.

  • Sam, all right so you say Sam

  • that

  • when a poor laborer

  • buys his, accepts three hundred dollars to fight in the civil war

  • he is in effect being coerced

  • by that money

  • given his economic circumstances

  • whereas Carnegie can go off pay the money

  • and not serve

  • I want to hear if someone has a reply

  • to Sam's

  • argument

  • that what looks like a free exchange

  • is actually

  • coercive

  • who has an answer to

  • to Sam. go ahead

  • I'd actually agree with him. You agree with him

  • I agree with him in saying that

  • it is coercion

  • in the sense that it robs an individual

  • of his ability to reason properly

  • okay and what's your name? Raul.

  • ok so Raul and Sam

  • agree

  • that what looks like a free exchange, free choice voluntary act

  • is actually coercion it involves coercion

  • it's profound coercion of the worst kind because it falls so disproportionately

  • upon one segment of society

  • good, all right so Raul

  • and Sam have made a powerful point

  • who would like to reply

  • who has an answer

  • for Sam and Raul? Go ahead

  • I just I don't think that these drafting systems are really terribly different from you know all

  • volunteer army sort of recruiting strategies

  • the whole idea of

  • you know having benefits in pay for joining the army is you know sort of a coercive strategy

  • to get people to

  • join

  • it is true that

  • military volunteers come from disproportionately, you know, lower economic

  • status

  • and also from certain regions of the country where you can use the patriotism

  • to try and coerce people, if you're like it's the right thing to do to

  • volunteer to go over to Iraq.

  • and tell me your name. Emily.

  • alright Emily

  • says

  • and Raul you're going to have to reply to this so get ready

  • Emily says

  • fair enough

  • there is a coercive element

  • to the civil war system when the laborer

  • takes the place of Andrew Carnegie for five hundred dollars

  • Emily concedes that

  • but she says

  • if that troubles you

  • about the civil war system