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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